Off the Grid Guide – A Total Off the Grid Solar System

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Categories: Guides, Off-Grid, Solar Power

A complete off the grid solar system is the center of so many South African visions, because it represents independence. Granted, it’s not a great dream to seek detachment from a country, especially if it’s a country you love. But in this case it’s a necessary dream. The government has proven it’s inability to really protect its nation. Which means we have to start fending for ourselves. As melodramatic as it may sound, just remember how desensitized we’ve become to certain things.

The economy, which is permanently dangling from a cliff, the lack of quality education, the corruption within high positions, we are reminded of these things on a daily basis. Oh, it’s just another $30 million wasted on snacks and food, at least it’s down 2% from last year. After a while, we just kind of get used to it. That is until the next big thing hits, which could be your ability to afford electricity.

A Total Off the Grid Solar System

In a time of crisis you want power and water inside your home. With a solar system and a borehole you are completely independent from basic municipal services, giving you two, really big benefits. The first is that you’ll save loads of money in the long run. Think about it as a DSTV package, but you only pay for the decoder and the dish. Your channels are free for the next 20 years, or even more. You don’t visit the sun on a monthly basis to pay the bill.

However, you need to be a little realistic here, because it’s going to cost more than a DSTV package. The good news is that solar collector equipment has become much more affordable over the years, and the technological advancements are more than just a little impressive. But installing a high quality, medium home, off the grid solar system, will cost around R250 000. Of course there are a lot of variables involved, so this is just a rough estimation.

Making Those Calculations

At face value it sounds like a lot, but this is when you have to sit back and do the calculations. Ask yourself, what are the chances of Eskom electricity prices falling in the next 20 years? And, what is your current monthly bill? We all know the answer to the first question, so all you have to do is calculate your average bill with a 9% increase, for the next 2 decades.

If you’re paying R3000 a month, which is still relatively low, you’re looking at R720 000 over 20 years (this is calculated WITHOUT the ongoing increases by the way). The difference comes to at least R450 000. All of a sudden the complete off the grid solar system doesn’t sound so much, plus you have the confidence of knowing the sun will ALWAYS shine, which brings us to benefit no. 2.

Can you even start putting a price on your independence? We don’t know what the future holds for South Africa, but if the current affairs (and recent history) are anything to go by, it’s a valid warning to start protecting ourselves.

What does the System Include?

The transition to a complete off the grid system will require:

  • Several Panels (anything between 12 and 25 depending on the quality and energy demand)
  • Inverter (the section of the system that switches the current from DC to AC)
  • Batteries (these are used for energy storage)
  • Charge Controller

typical-layout-off-grid-residential-pv-system

Of course there will be cables and other small parts, but they speak more to the installation process itself. You can also find certain innovations that can make the system more efficient, but the basics are those 4 things mentioned above. They are the big guns in your kit and require the most consideration.

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