Backup power on a budget

Nafisa AkaborCache This, Latest

light bulbs about to smash

Out-run load shedding

We’ve reached a point where it’s not viable to sit around and do nothing while we wait for load shedding to end. And with stage 6 becoming the norm, our backup systems need to last through multiple power cuts per day.

As a result, batteries, inverters and solar panels have become expensive grudge purchases.

Installing permanent solutions on your property requires significant upfront investment. But what happens if you’re renting? In apartments and housing complexes there are strict rules about building alterations and running a generator will certainly involve disturbing the peace.

Here are some solutions to consider if you’re a homeowner on a budget, or if you’re looking for short term solutions that you can take with you to your next home.

Buy a portable power station

Portable power stations are one of the best options to consider if you live in an apartment or if you’re renting. There are a bunch of solutions on the market from brands such as EcoFlow, Jackery, Gizzu, and Bluetti. Among their entry-level offerings, you need to consider the weight, maximum watts, and the number of ports and outputs supporting South African plugs. you also need to consider recharge options (AC, solar, car, USB) and safety features that prevent the unit from overheating.

If you want to power larger appliances like a fridge, microwave, or washing machine, consider a 1kWh battery capacity, but it will cost a lot more. Typically, solar panels for these portable stations are an optional extra you need to purchase. And if they all seem similar, decide what matters the most to you:

  • EcoFlow recharges the quickest,
  • Jackery offers life-long technical support, and
  • Bluetti lets you recharge in 6 different ways.

Look to rent, or rent-to-own solar

If you want to go solar and can do so on your property, it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. There are several providers in South Africa who offer a renting module or a rent-to-own solution. It’s something that won’t require upfront costs and has a fixed monthly fee.

GoSolar is one such example. They offer hybrid solutions with everything included: Inverter, batteries and solar panels that can be wired to your DB board. Another option is through Solarite South Africa. They offer a 36/48/60-month rental that lets you upgrade when the period is over. It requires no deposits, the fee is tax-deductible, and it covers insurance and maintenance costs.

For those living in the Western Cape and Gauteng, Versofy Solar offers both rent-to-own and purchase options on 36- or 60-month terms. You get to decide how many solar panels you want and the power required. This option requires a R5,000 upfront payment.

If you’re in KwaZulu-Natal, Solana Energy is also worth considering – Simon recently interviewed their CEO to find out more about costs and process.

Check bank offerings

Some banks offer solar-energy related loans. This option lets you find your own solar provider from which you need to get a quote, and then apply for the loan. Nedbank offers solar finance loans for up to 72 months. Absa details a list of options you can choose from and ways to finance it, such as using your home loan or taking out a personal loan.

Meanwhile, Standard Bank has a dedicated portal with lights, solar, geyser, and energy meter options, plus portable and fixed backup solutions. And if you’re with FNB, their eBucks store has a range of solutions for energy and water. This includes solar hybrid, generators, UPS devices and batteries you can purchase with Rands and/or eBucks. You can also buy an EcoFlow unit over 24 months.

Cache This

Technology is an ever increasing part of our lives and let’s be honest, many of us like gadgets. There is also an abundance of new online services and apps taking over the traditional services we use. Nafisa Akabor has been covering everything tech for well over a decade and she’ll be writing on how we can do tech within a budget and reviewing some of the new online services. Cache This is published on the last Tuesday of every month.