How much it costs to get off Eskom’s grid in 2019

Eskom announced stage 4 load shedding on Monday (11 February) following the loss of six additional power generating units.

Stage 4 load shedding removes 4,000MW of power from the grid and means that some South Africans may go without power for up 4.5 hours at a time.

In light of these cuts, the Western Cape Provincial Government has released a new guideline on the costs of preparing for load shedding.

The guide is aimed at preparing both businesses and individual electricity users, and aims to provide a number of alternatives to Eskom across a wide variety of price ranges.

Below BusinessTech looked at the proposed options as well as the other costs involved in moving from Eskom in 2019.


Cheapest and quickest options (R100 – R400)

  • A small gas cooker should cost you between R400 – R500.
  • A solar cell charger a car phone charger or a cellphone power bank should cost around R300.
  • Rechargeable lights (R200) can last for up to 10 hours when fully charged.
  • Buying a surge protector plug for your television, computer and fridge will protect your appliances when the power comes back on. Depending on the number of sockets required, these range from R100 to R400.

Battery system (R15,000 – R50,000)

Another possible option is the installation of a battery system which can keep a number of electrical systems powered for hours at a time.

Most battery backup systems consist of the following components:

  • A battery charger –  Charges the rechargeable batteries from the AC mains power while there is no load-shedding.
  • Inverter –  Converts the DC battery power into usable AC power during load-shedding.  Grid-tied inverters must be registered with the municipality and installed by a qualified person.
  • Battery – Stores the electrical power for later use.

The Western Cape’s guideline estimates that the cost of a battery system can range from R15,000 on the low-end to R50,000 for a top-end installation.

Low-end option – R15,000 excluding installation

This option is suitable for very limited usage with an average load of 240W, according to the guideline.

“This option will have a total of 2 x 100 Ah 12V batteries (R6,000). The inverter can provide 1 000 Watt (10.5A) continuously and 1.2 kWh energy (R9,000).”

An example of the items you can run on this type of system include:

  • Four to six LED or Compact Fluorescent lights (CFL) amounting to 24W for LEDs or 45W for CFLs;
  • A TV and a decoder using 30W when off and 150W when in use;
  • A cell phone charger using 0.5W not charging and 6W when charging.

Mid-tier option – R30,000 excluding installation

This option is suitable for an average 3-bedroom house where the usage will be limited to an average load of 480W, according to the guideline.

This option has a total of 2 x 200 Ah 12V batteries (R12,000). The inverter can provide 2,400 Watt (10.5A) continuously and 2.4 kWh energy (R18,000).

An example of the items you can run on this type of system include:

  • 10 to 15 LED or CFL lights;
  • A TV and a decoder uses 30W when off and 150W when in use;
  • One energy-efficient fridge/freezer on, managed well, will consume 100W – 200W;
  • A laptop uses 65W while charging.

High-end option – R50,000 excluding installation

This option is suitable for bigger houses, small offices and shops that want to be unaffected by load-shedding, and will be limited to a load of 960W, according to the guideline.

“This option has a total of 4 x 200 Ah 12V batteries (R24,000). The inverter can provide 4 000 Watt (17 A) continuously and 4.8 kWh energy (R25,000).

An example of the items you can run on this type of system include:

  • All lighting and a TV will be operational;
  • Multiple fridges and freezers can be operated but must be opened as little as possible;
  • Laptops and a printer can be used.

Solar (R2,000 – R180,000)

According to the guideline you can expect to pay anywhere from R2,000 to R50,000+ for a solar and battery installation.

An example of the possible costs systems available include:

  • One or two small solar panels and battery that will power 10-20 W will cost between R2,000 and R5,000. This is equal to a couple of lights and a cellphone charger.
  • A large solar panel and a battery that will power 120W will cost between R9,000 and R16,000. This is equal to about 5 lights or a TV, or a fridge.
  • A 1.5kW – 3kW solar PV system, with batteries, can power 280-305 W and will cost in excess of R50,000. This is equal to a few lights, a TV and a fridge.

BusinessTech has previously reported on the costs of moving your entire home onto a solar PV system.

We found that despite decreasing in price over the last few years, solar energy systems can still be quite expensive when it comes to installation.

Notably, the size of your home, as well as the amount of work that is involved for installation, will determine the cost.

According to Cala van der Westhuizen, head of marketing and sales at Energy Partners Home Solutions you can expect to pay the following for a full-home solution:

  • The complete heating solution costs around for the average home – R35,000;
  • The complete Solar photovoltaic (PV) system – R80,000 and upwards;
  • ICON Home Energy Hub – between R100,000 – R180,000;

These installations also require additional maintenance – such as ensuring that the panels are clean – and you will likely end up changing the cells (batteries) every 7-10 years which will bring additional costs.


Read: What stage 4 load shedding means for you

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How much it costs to get off Eskom’s grid in 2019