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Solar PV Panels

Virtually unknown 10 years ago, solar (photovoltaic) panels have increased in popularity rapidly as technology improved and prices became more competitive. With the energy crisis in South Africa causing electricity prices to skyrocket, turning to self-reliance for energy generation is becoming a more and more viable option.

Gone are the days when PV panels were only installed on spacecraft and remote locations, isolated from the electricity grid. Where the payback period on a typical home installation used to be well over 30 years as recent as five years ago, today it has drastically declined, to between five and ten years only. And with electricity prices still on a rapid incline, this payback period could drop to below five years within the next couple of years.

Previously, with the lifespan of older-technology PV panels only at around 10 years, it made no financial sense to fork out the investment. But now that the lifespan is higher (many suppliers now offer a 25-year warranty, where the power output should remain within 80% of the rated power), installation prices are cheaper (new technology and mass production has driven prices down by around 50% over the past five years alone), and electricity is much more expensive (prices have more than doubled in five years), the motivation behind going solar is obvious. Add to that the estimates that electricity will double again in the next five years, and you have to start asking whether you can afford NOT to do it.

To put it plainly, if you were to increase your bond to finance a full off-the-grid installation, you should end up with more money in your pocket straight away. Yes, the financing costs will be far less than your current monthly electricity bill - not to mention the fact that you will have vastly increased the value of your home.

A typical solar panel installation with battery backup will set you back between R100,000 and R250,000 for a medium- to large-sized house.

However, most installers also offer a "baby steps" solution, whereby you can gradually upgrade over a period of time.

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