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Can Solar Panels Save You Money?

While South Africans must somehow weather the economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 lockdown measures, Eskom seemingly has no compunction when it comes to adding to our problems.

Luckily for us, when Eskom tried to hike our electricity tariffs up by almost 17% for 2020, their attempt didn’t get past the Gauteng High Court. That doesn’t mean they’ll stop trying – and it’s almost a given that they’ll subject us to load shedding (or is it “load reduction” now?) during the colder winter months.

Many South Africans are looking to alternative power sources to take the pressure off our pockets. Solar panels are one of the most popular alternative energy solutions for homeowners. However, the initial financial outlay can be heavy for many households.

The question on many minds is - can solar panels REALLY save you money?

Here are a few factors that can help to inform your decision on whether solar power can save you money on your electricity bill.

Solar Energy and Household Electricity Consumption

A quick look at your Eskom bill can tell you how much electricity your household consumes. Even a small household can easily consume upwards of 5kW/h.

The larger the system you install, the more energy you'll generate. You could even get off the grid completely. However, you’ll pay a sizeable amount in initial outlay.

It’s better to pick a system that suits your ideal payback period and return on investment – probably a system that allows you to run your household partially off-grid, with backup electricity for when you need it.

Whatever you choose, you'll save substantially after a period of 5 to 10 years.

Related: See What Size Solar Panel System Your Household Needs

solar connect sunshine

Solar Panel Installations and Local Electricity Prices

Factors that make countries good candidates for solar power installations are those closer to the equator and/or with dry climates and clear skies. The US Southwest, Saharan and sub-Saharan countries, and central America have nearly perfect conditions for solar energy.

However, South Africans have comparatively high electricity prices for a developing country. The good news is that solar installations help you to save – and the higher the electricity prices are, the more you'll save by drawing from the backup electricity generated by your solar panels.

Solar Panels on Long-Term Homes

Solar panel installations can save South Africans money on energy costs - as long as you live in the same house for long enough to get back the installation costs, via saving on your power bill.

Current studies show that going Solar will start to save you substantial amounts of money if your utility bills are over R700-R800 per month for a period of 5 years or longer.

Related: You Can Save 50% or More on Your Bill if You Install Solar Power

solar connect savings

Solar Panels, Property Value and Rental Yields

Solar panels add to your property's market value. Buyers will be willing to pay a higher price, especially given the rising electricity prices in South Africa. If you're a landlord, both residential AND commercial tenants might be willing to pay more to rent a property with solar panels, because they'll undoubtedly save on power bills.

While an off-grid system might be a good solution for you, not every buyer will trust an electricity system that relies completely on sunshine. This is due more to ignorance of the technology involved, and is not generally based on any genuine factors. However, if you want your home to appeal to a wider net of potential buyers, you might prefer to install a system that still ties into the electricity grid.

Related: 5 Things To Know About Off-Grid Power Systems

The Final Verdict?

A solar panel system installed at your home will likely help you save money over the long run, as long as you live in the home long enough to get a return on your investment. However, it will be worthwhile even if you rent out or sell your home. The key things to consider are your particular consumption level and household requirements.

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About Solar Connect

Solarconnect connects you to solar energy providers. You can choose to opt for financing, or get a quote on a solar installation. 

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