Expert answers frequently asked questions about rooftop solar in South Africa

 ·15 Apr 2023

With an influx of South Africans turning to rooftop solar to combat load shedding, there is a growing concern that consumers are unaware of the exact options available.

People who install rooftop solar panels during the period of 1 March 2023 to 29 February 2024 are eligible for a rebate of 25% of the panel cost, with a maximum rebate limit of R15,000.

The rebate can reduce the taxpayer’s tax liability in the 2023/24 tax year, according to finance minister Enoch Godongwana.

This rebate has further boosted the popularity of solar alternatives in households across the country.

Solar company Versofy Solar has provided answers to some of the most frequently asked questions from people looking to shift toward rooftop solar:

Is one brand of solar panel as efficient as another?

The efficiency of a solar panel depends on both the amount of sunlight they gather as well as their overall technical specifications.

How long does it take to install a household solar system?

According to Versofy Solar, installing solar panels, an inverter, and a battery can be done within one to three days.

Can solar panels be installed on a flat roof?

Solar panels will perform efficiently on a flat roof, provided they are mounted securely and installed at the optimal angle.

The optimum angle for a solar panel’s performance in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa, would depend on latitude and other local factors, Versofy Solar said.

How many solar panels are needed for a typical house?

An average home will require between six and twelve panels – but the exact number is dependent on the area of the home, its electricity needs and the capabilities of the inverter.

Will the system work in extreme conditions?

Heavy rainfall and hail are likely to not damage the panels, they can also operate at various temperatures; high and low – extreme cold can, however, reduce their efficiency.

What are the payment options?

  • Solar as a service – this scheme refers to the rental of the product and no transfer of ownership – giving users the benefits of solar at a lower monthly cost and without the associated costs of ownership.
  • Rent to Own – Rent to Own is just like a cellphone contract for solar, said the solar firm. “You are able to benefit from the full savings of owning the system after the contract is up. If you sell your home, you should be able to transfer your rental agreement into the new owner’s name, subject to the new owner agreeing to the original terms and conditions.”
  • Cash – This is when you buy the system outright. The positives are that you start to get a return on investment immediately, however, it requires substantial upfront capital.

How much does it cost?

Versofy Solar offers the current prices:

To go fully off-grid, banking group Capitec estimates that it would cost the average household between R150,000 and R350,000 – through financing methods, this can be spread out over the course of a longer period.

Absa’s load-shedding finance calculator estimates that a household spending R2,500 per month on electricity would require over R190,000 to become fully off-grid using solar panels, an off-grid inverter, battery storage, and a backup generator.

Various different stakeholders argue over the true cost of solar. However, they have to be measured on a case by case basis. Despite this, however, the move away from Eskom is typically far more expensive than paying for traditional electricity every month.

Hohm Energy estimates that a medium-energy home could cost around R150,000 to R170,000, while Solana Energy puts the cost of a large-scale solution – without solar panels – to R290,000.

Read: 4 tax updates to watch out for in South Africa – including solar and medical aid

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter