Load Shedding in South Africa – Cost Effective Solutions for Everyone.
Load shedding…now you either have one of two reactions. One, building up steam to get rid of the frustration that life AND Eskom throw at you. Or two, you accepted the fact that we’re living in a world where our energy crisis is kind of the norm these days and you find the memes going around on social media are quite clever and, uhm funny… and you reshare it because why not? South Africans have a good sense of humour, transforming everything serious to something hilarious.
Load shedding is not a new term; it’s been around for over five years now. If you haven’t adjusted to the fact of possible load shedding yet, start now. We’ll take you through alternatives, the benefits and the cost of each.
Daily average household power consumption
Before we dig into the alternatives, let’s clear the confusion of an average household’s daily power usage. If you could guess, what is the average your home consumes daily? (According to Eskom the average daily consumption is 30kWh. Which is ridiculous. Some households consume as little as 3kWh per day! Use the simple method below to calculate your household’s daily energy consumption:
- Write down the number on your meter at a convenient time.
- Write down the number again after 24 hours.
- Subtract the two figures from each other.
- The total is the amounts of units, kilowatt-hours (kWh), your household consumed in the last 24 hours.
- This is what the independent solar electric system would need to generate each day.
- If you keep record of this, you can quickly determine which appliances have the highest consumption and turn them off to see whether it makes a difference.
So, how did they get off the grid? They’ve invested in some, or most, of the following options.
What are the alternative energy options?
There are a couple of alternatives that could be cost-effective, maybe not in the interim but definitely in the long run. Going green and getting off the grid with ecologically savvy decisions is the best way to help with the power outages we experience.
This is radiant light and heat generated from the sun and is the most readily accessible resource in South Africa. We’ve got solar geysers, solar lamps and solar cell phone chargers. Solar installations ensure a stable power supply but will cost you hundreds of thousands to get you off the grid. Elements for a comprehensive system will include solar panels, a sun tracker, battery banks, power-tracking systems, a backup generator, chargers and several cables and conduits. Click here to compare prices on solar geysers.
The Tesla Solar Roof is an entire solar roof if you’re not fond of the visually appealing solar panels on the market. It converts and store energy throughout the day and make it available to use when needed during the night. To store the energy, it’s incorporated with an embedded Powerwall battery system. In South Africa, there are other suppliers, such as Smart Energy SA, Solteq, and AM Solar. One supplier points out that the roof could pay for itself in 10 years, depending on the roof size and energy demand. Another supplier claims to generate an output of up to 212 Wp/m² or 93 kW/per day for a 100m² roof. The life span of these roofs is up to 80 years and therefore come with warranties of 40 years or more.
The benefits are great, but the cost of solar roofs is the biggest problem. A 9.45kW Tesla Solar Glass Roof of 173m² will typically cost about R566 500 for the roof, another R157 000 for the Powerwall and R126 000 for roof and site repairs. This amounts to a total of R849 500 at the current exchange rate. Installation costs may increase with obstructions and complex roof designs.
This is very expensive, and not everyone has this kind of finance. Let’s look at the more economical and cost-effective load shedding choices.
Get gas – R250 to R500
Gas stoves are becoming popular and a choice for newly built houses or renovated kitchens. Camping gas stoves are a portable option to quickly boil water if there’s no electricity. Gas braais is another option; they are cheap and easy to operate. A two-plate gas stove can be anything from R500, and a camping gas stove from R250.
Get a generator – R2 000 to R10 000
This is the easiest way to avoid power cuts, but can become somewhat expensive, depending on your needs and budget. Smaller generators run on petrol and give enough electricity to keep the fridge, lights and maybe the TV running. While larger ones could power the entire home. A 650W generator could be from R2 000, which will be able to operate necessary appliances. A 5.5 kW generator can be between R9 000 and R10 000.
Get an inverter – R9 000
An inverter can convert energy from a battery bank to power major appliances. Considering the input and output voltages of inverters is essential – check appliance voltages and choose a sine wave inverter for major appliances. Depending on your needs, inverters can be costly. This Ellies entry-level inverter is R9 000.
UPS it – R700 to R1 500
Uninterrupted Power Supplies can help keep a few devices powered up when the electricity goes out, like computers. It can also help against surges. A 600VA UPS (from R700) can power a standard computer for another 5 minutes, while a 2 000VA UPS (from R1 500) would be able to power 4 to 5 computers for the same period.
Rechargeable lights – R200
Rechargeable lights will give your home enough lighting when load shedding sets in. It is power efficient and relatively cheap. Some of them come with USBs to charge smaller devices with, such as a phone. Rechargeable camping lanterns can be anything from R200, depending on the size you need. Battery-operated lights can also be lifesavers, and it’s less dangerous than candles.
Power banks – R100 to R1 000
Power banks can be used even when there is no load shedding. It’s comfortable for just leaving the house for the day and you know that’ll be out until late. The battery capacity of a standard smartphone is between 2,500mAh and 3,500mAh, and you should ensure that the power bank can charge your phone multiple times before it runs flat. Power banks can range between R100 to R1 000, depending on your needs. Having car chargers will also help with charging your phone or tablet while driving.