If Eskom’s constant shifting from stage 1 to stage 6 and back again (often within a single day -and now talk of Stage 7!) isn’t enough to push me over the edge, I don’t know what is.
After writing off solar for many years due to its seeming unaffordability, I decided recently to look into it again.
It’s time. I needed to find a way to get out of my deeply dysfunctional, co-dependent relationship that I – and most other South Africans – have with our least favourite parastatal.
First things first: I’m not a member of that elite club. You know the one: that 1% deep within the 1% who can afford to pay cash upfront for their solar installation.
On their Plett holiday house. That they use for one week a year. In contrast, I needed a permanent solution in exchange for a monthly fee.
I’m a work-from-home mom, so I’d need power throughout the day but for a relatively small Joburg home. Should be simple to organise, right?
The problem, I quickly realised, is that we’re in the middle of some kind of giant ‘solar rush’. It’s like the gold rush, only with fewer pans and more panels.
I don’t have the time to sift through all the available solar suppliers in South Africa, and – let me tell you – in 2023, there are a lot them.
I’m also not a solar expert, so how do I know who’s a genuine, quality provider and who’s part of the bakkie brigade selling cheap panels that break a month after they’re installed?
After about a week of online research that left me completely overwhelmed, I finally came across something that stood out in a sea of seemingly endless options: an online solar marketplace called Hohm Energy.
I saw them via their very funny YouTube ad, where the female protagonist breaks the news to her partner that she’s ready to take the next step in their relationship… which to her means installing solar in their house.
Beyond the fact that the ad made me laugh, Hohm caught my eye because they’re not solar installers themselves. Rather, they pitch themselves as a “solar concierge”.
But what is that? Sadly, it doesn’t mean an ice–cold G&T and a sun lounger while I wait for my solar to be installed.
It’s almost as good though.
As South Africa’s first solar marketplace, Hohm connects solar customers with accredited solar providers and product suppliers. For me, that means they take away the stress and hassle of me selecting a solar provider myself.
As a first step, I had to put in my home address, and Hohm then asked me a bunch of questions about the type of solution I needed.
The process was simple and easy to follow and included nifty little calculations like how many solar panels I’d need for a certain number of hours of backup power.
Based on my responses, I then got a customised price proposal from their vetted suppliers.
Next, I had to fill out my finance application, which was actually the simplest step of all. Hohm have teamed up with major finance brands such as Nedbank, FNB, BettaBond, Capitec and Ooba, which meant I could tag my solar finance onto my existing home loan.
I’ve always thought that if I sell my house in future, I’d get a far better price if there was solar installed – so it’s well worth the monthly addition to my mortgage repayment.
Although in my case I had an existing home loan, if you don’t have one Hohm also offers a standalone finance product via MFC (a division of Nedbank), and you don’t even need to bank with them to qualify.
They also offer a very affordable solar subscription product powered by GLINT, available exclusively on the Hohm platform.
From there, all I needed to do was arrange a site visit for the option I selected.
Two weeks later, the installation was done, and I was up and running with my inverter, batteries and panels. That’s it. Goodbye loadshedding – don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
I think the best part of the whole process for me was feeling confident that the options I was given were the best quality within my budget.
Hohm have negotiated the best prices from leading product suppliers and solar installers, and they only use ones who are vetted and who use tier 1 solar products with a 10–year warranty.
I also loved that it was all done on one platform through one seamless journey, and that they were available throughout to answer any questions I had.
The entire process of moving off the grid took me about a month from start to finish – but it probably saved me multiple lifetimes of research.
Because while choice is great, it can also be overwhelming, especially with all the solar mavericks out there trying to make a quick buck at the consumer’s expense.
With Hohm, it felt like I had a trusted advisor helping me through it, which gave me huge peace of mind.
These days, I’m becoming one of those smug South Africans who’s almost forgotten what loadshedding feels like. It feels so good to have broken up with Eskom for good.
From here, the future looks rosy. Or, should I say, sunny.