Is It Legal To Go Off Grid In South Africa?

Because they are not designed to feed back into the grid, off-grid technologies are exempt from provincial power rules.

You can go entirely “Off-Grid” or only partially “Off-Grid.” The utility connection is totally disconnected and the account with the energy provider is cancelled on a wholly Off-Grid system, saving on monthly connection expenses. Semi-off-grid systems can keep the utility connection in the event of protracted outages or tiny battery banks, and use grid power to power appliances as needed. These inverters can be configured to use solar power as the first option, battery to assist or provide power when solar energy is insufficient or non-existent (such as in the evening), and utility (Eskom or generator) as the third option in the event of persistent rain or smaller battery banks.

Is it possible for me to live off the grid in South Africa?

The majority of South Africans get their electricity via the state-run power system. This grid and the transmission of coal-based energy to people’s homes and companies are managed by Eskom, a public utility company. For many South Africans, living off the grid is a fantasy. However, it is possible that it will become a reality in the near future.

Over the last decade, South Africa has seen a shift towards solar energy. In South Africa, one business, WiSolar, has emerged as a leader in the solar energy transition. Several residents have already purchased WiSolar solar electricity systems and installed them in their homes. It is consumed and excess retained after their solar panels produce electrons caused by photons of light impacting the panels from the sun.

Unfortunately, the ordinary solar panel system in South Africa is incapable of providing 100 percent of a household’s power needs at all times of the day and night. As a result, South Africans continue to use both coal and solar energy. However, this does not rule out the possibility of living off the grid. Simply put, more solar panels will need to be erected in order to capture more solar energy from the sun.

To generate an average of 12kWh per day that is consumed per capita, six solar panels would need to be installed outside of a residence. This may not appear to be a big concern, but solar energy equipment is expensive to buy outright. The average South African family consumes approximately 25 kwh of peak load electricity per day, which would necessitate the installation of 12 solar panels to provide power to a single home on a daily basis. WiSolar, fortunately, provides financing solutions to make it easier for customers to buy solar panels on credit.

WiSolar now allows homeowners to pay for their solar energy system in monthly instalments. It’s all part of their plan to provide low-cost solar energy to South African communities and combat climate change. People will no longer be reliant on the state-run power system for their energy needs.

WiSolar claims that its solar energy bundles come with financing alternatives. Here’s a quick rundown of their terminology:

  • Medium Package: Enough to run a two-bedroom home with necessary appliances like a refrigerator and washing machine. For 72 months, you’ll pay R2 557.15 each month.
  • Popular Package: Provides three- to four-bedroom homes with solar power and all necessary appliances and electrical gadgets. For 72 months, pay R3 610.10 every month.
  • Large Package: This is the ideal solar energy plan for individuals with five bedrooms, air conditioning, and all the bells and whistles. For 72 months, pay R4 512.62 per month.

Most suburban residences in South Africa should be able to benefit from the Popular Package. WiSolar has already given over 9MW of solar energy to homes in South Africa. It is sufficient to power around 3 000 residential dwellings across the country. And now that these low-cost financing options are available, the solar energy trend is certain to skyrocket in the next years.

In South Africa, how much does it cost to go off the grid?

A’starter’ off-grid power system, which will power small households for a limited period of time, costs roughly R49,000. Expect to pay upwards of R90,000 for a kit that will provide electricity consistently.

In South Africa, where can I live off the grid for free?

If you want to move to South Africa, these are the best areas to live.

  • Hoedspruit is a town in South Africa (Limpopo)
  • Valley of Riebeek (Western Cape)
  • Midlands of Natal (Kwazulu-Natal)
  • Kuruman Kuruman Kuruman Kuruman Kur (Northern Cape)
  • Read more about how much it costs to build a house in South Africa right now.

Find a new source of power

The most crucial step in making your home energy independent will be to use non-coal energy sources. Among the possibilities are:

Sun energy is the most popular renewable energy source, and it’s a realistic alternative in South Africa, which is known for its high solar concentration. Solar panels, which are made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells that receive the sun’s rays and generate direct current, which is then converted to alternating current by an inverter, are the most important part of a solar-powered system.

Bottled LPG gas is a cost-effective and simple-to-install choice. There are also gas generators on the market now, which are “quite cheap and cost-effective to run, as well as being significantly quieter than a diesel generator and emitting none of the fumes,” according to Angus.

A gas-powered geyser will let you break free from your reliance on the grid. Geysers consume roughly 60% of residential electricity, so they’re the first place to look for ways to save money on energy. Gas-powered stoves are another useful and economical option, allowing you to cook and boil water without having to worry about Eskom interfering.

Although households may be put off by the high expense of implementation, this is the prefered solution for restaurants and shopping centres that want to stay open during loadshedding. According to the Western Cape’s guidelines, a rather low-end battery system can be installed for roughly R15 000. This would create 1 000 Watt (10.5A) of continuous power and 1.2 kWh of energy (to put that in perspective, a TV and a decoder use about 30W when off, and 150W whilst activated).

A high-end battery system, capable of keeping large residences fully functioning during loadshedding, would cost around R50,000 (without installation); and there are mid-range systems that aim to balance power requirements and cost.

Use alternative sources for water

Grey water is the water that remains after a shower or a load of laundry has been washed. Grey water can be used for things like flushing the toilet that don’t require fresh water.

Rainwater, which is absolutely free, can also be used for such purposes. Simple contraptions such as pots and barrels, as well as more complex equipment that must be purchased, such as cisterns, can be used to collect rainwater.

Plant a garden

Self-sufficiency begins with energy independence, and you may take it a step further by growing your own fruits, veggies, and herbs. In the process, you’ll learn some new farming techniques.

Grey water can be used to irrigate the new garden. You could also want to think about building energy-free cooking methods, such as a homemade grill or a good old-fashioned fire pit.

Buy land

Of course, not everyone is in a position to do so, but if you are, it is something you should really consider. Owning your own piece of property allows you to create a home that is completely off the grid, guaranteeing that you are not bothered by local officials.

In South Africa, is it possible to generate your own electricity?

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa recently declared that the barrier for firms producing their own electricity without a licence will be raised from 1 MW to 100 MW. Generation projects will still require a grid connection permit to guarantee that they meet all grid compliance standards.

The increased barrier, which was previously established at 10 MW in the Draft Schedule 2 to the Power Act, will stimulate private sector investment in the electricity industry, which is a surprising but welcome step. This move will relieve a lot of strain on Eskom and the government, and it is the quickest solution to address the country’s large electricity generation deficit. South Africa’s installed generation capacity is around 50 GW, with most of it coming from ageing coal facilities. Eskom, South Africa’s national utility, stated yesterday that it would impose Stage 4 load-shedding to deal with the day’s generation shortage. Eskom’s load-shedding programme is divided into “Stages,” in which the company removes a set amount of load from the grid in order to keep it stable. So, depending on the severity of the crisis, load-shedding is performed in phases ranging from Stage 1 to Stage 8, with Stage 1 removing 1000 MW of load from the grid and Stage 8 removing 8,000 MW. Depending on the severity of the crisis, load-shedding is performed in 2-hour or 4-hour blocks on a cyclical basis. Stage 8 will, however, result in a 12-hour blackout for the majority of users. As of yesterday, cumulative breakdowns at Eskom’s plants were 15,087 MW! A total of 1,273 MW was out of service due to scheduled maintenance.

The procedure of getting a generation licence for PV projects larger than 1 MW for the commercial and industrial sector had been lengthy and complicated, delaying large energy consumers’ adoption of solar. The new threshold eliminates this barrier, allowing the solar business to expand significantly. Large companies, such as cement mills, data centres, mines, retail malls, and universities, can now construct their own power plants to supplement what they get from the grid.

“However, our problems as a country predate the pandemic. Due to structural restraints that hold our economy back, we have had sluggish economic growth and significant unemployment for many years. There is no doubt that the likelihood of a prolonged energy shortage and additional load shedding poses a significant threat to our economy. That is why, as part of our Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, we have designated energy security as one of our top priorities. The speed of our economic recovery will be determined by our ability to address the energy crisis quickly and effectively. President Ramaphosa stated that “resolving the energy supply shortage and decreasing the possibility of load shedding is our single most critical priority in restarting economic growth.”

“We will alter Schedule 2 of the Electricity Regulation Act to increase the NERSA licence threshold for embedded generating projects from 1 MW to 100 MW, following a long public consultation process and major technical work by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy.” This initiative underscores our commitment to achieving energy security and reducing the impact of load shedding on businesses and individuals across the country. It demonstrates our commitment to confronting the economic crisis front on by enacting fundamental economic changes that will reshape our economy. It also illustrates our government’s willingness to pay attention to experts, collaborate closely with our social partners, and consider fresh ideas to address long-standing issues.

Distributed power facilities, particularly solar power plants, can be erected fast to help satisfy some of South Africa’s peak demand during the day. In South Africa, things are set to get pretty exciting in this space!

To go off-grid, how many batteries do I need?

Given that the average solar battery has a capacity of around 10 kilowatt-hours (kWh),

  • You’ll need enough battery storage to cover your energy demand when your solar panels aren’t producing (about 2-3 batteries) if you want to save the maximum money possible.
  • When the grid goes down, you usually just need one solar battery to keep the lights on.
  • If you want to be entirely off the grid, you’ll need a lot more storage capacity, like 8-12 batteries.

How much does it cost to say your final goodbyes to Eskom?

A solar power generation and storage system that can make a typical South African household totally independent of Eskom’s energy grid will cost more than R200,000.

After a festive season without power outages, Eskom’s cyclical power cuts resurfaced in the first week of February, reminding South Africans that load-shedding is here to stay.

In 2022, Eskom will shut down two of its main power generating units at the Koeberg nuclear power station, forcing it to rely more heavily on its unreliable coal-fired generation fleet.

Emergency power generation that was supposed to start at the end of the year will most likely be postponed.

It will take time for private renewable solar and wind projects to contribute enough capacity to the grid to help ease load shedding.

Many households and companies have grown tired of having their power disconnected and have decided to ditch Eskom and take care of their own electricity needs.

However, doing so is still prohibitively expensive, and recouping your investment can take years.

To figure out how much it would cost to get completely off the grid, we used internet calculators from two credible solar and energy storage companies, Solar Advice and Alumoto.

An off-grid system has three primary components: generating, storage, and output.

In terms of generating capacity, you’ll need to instal a solar array with enough sunlight exposure to power your home throughout the day while also charging your batteries for nighttime use.

The average South African home uses roughly 900kWh of power each month, or 30kWh per day, according to Eskom’s most recent data.

A 14-panel system, according to Solar Advice and Alumo, may supply over 30kWh of electricity per day. This is based on a solar efficiency of less than 50%.

Given that your solar panels won’t be able to create or directly feed electricity while the sun isn’t shining, you’ll need roughly 19.5kWh of battery storage to power your home at night.

Your inverter transforms the energy from your solar panels and batteries into usable electricity, which is the final component in your setup.

When choosing an inverter, think about how much peak power (in Watts) your appliances can handle.

Certain appliances require a lot of peak watts, and even if they only use it for a short time, your inverter must be able to give that output or you won’t be able to power them up.

While most houses rarely consume more than 5kW at peak, it’s safer to go with something in the 8 to 10kW range.

We computed the cost of an off-grid kit from Solar Advice and Alumo using the statistics above as a starting point.

Is it possible for me to get fully off the grid?

In most cases, living off the grid is legal in California. Off-grid living is often encouraged by state legislation. For practically everything, though, you’ll need to adhere to highly tight building rules and obtain a permit.

Obtaining water rights can be difficult, and there is no guarantee that wells will not run dry. You may also run into a legislation that mandates you to connect to a municipal sewer system if one is nearby, making being entirely off the grid unlawful in California.

California Zoning Laws and Off-Grid Living

Zoning rules are local regulations that govern everything from setbacks to the number of hens you can have on your property. Zoning regulations apply to all areas of California. These rules may make it illegal to live the off-grid lifestyle you desire on your land.

Local zoning laws can differ dramatically from one county to the next.

If you want to utilise alternative building materials, live in a mobile home or tiny home, or have many accessory homes, you’ll need to do a lot of study to find out what’s allowed in your area.

What are the requirements for going off-grid?

Since the turn of the century, finding a suitable site to live remotely has been increasingly challenging. Homesteading is illegal in the lower 48 states, but it is legal in less hospitable climates such as Alaska and Northern Canada. Those wanting an off-the-grid lifestyle now must either trespass on public or private grounds, risking fines and incarceration, or purchase enough land to meet their basic needs.

Off-the-grid living, according to veterans of the frontier, necessitates the following:

  • Shelter. While many people initially sleep under the stars or in tents, it is critical to have a living space that is protected from the elements and danger. Shelters range from strong log homes and reinforced yurts to abandoned minibuses and trailers, depending on the region. Even if you’re living in the woods, it’s crucial to be aware of any laws or regulations that apply to your shelter.
  • Water that is safe to drink. Living off the grid necessitates the availability of clean, drinkable water. According to the Mayo Clinic, the average male and female require 3 litres and 2.2 litres of water each day, respectively. Make sure you have access to a natural water source or choose a location that is convenient for hauling water before choosing a location. It’s usually a good idea to employ a rainwater collection system. Many people who live off the grid rely on hand-dug wells. Even crystal clear water can contain harmful bacteria and chemicals, so it’s vital to boil or disinfect it before drinking or cooking with it.
  • Efficacy (Fuel). In unfriendly regions, a power supply is required at the very least to prepare meals and provide heat. Some people rely completely on natural resources like wood or dried animal excrement. Off-the-grid life is now possible thanks to technological advancements such as solar, wind turbines, biodiesel generators, and micro-hydro systems, albeit at a high expense. Lamps made of kerosene can be used to light the gloomy nights. The power source used is determined by the anticipated use, cost, and installation constraints.
  • Sources of Food In most distant regions, living purely on natural game, nuts, berries, and plants is exceedingly unlikely. Furthermore, reliance on natural food sources might be challenging and harmful. Christopher McCandless, who lived in the Alaskan wilderness for three months, survived on squirrels, porcupines, tiny birds, mushrooms, roots, and berries until succumbing to toxic wild-potato seeds by mistake. Due to the scarcity of food, off-the-grid experts advise planting a vegetable garden and growing fruit trees and plants, as well as learning to can and preserve goods. During some seasons, fishing and hunting may be permitted, but it is critical to store meat for the times when these activities are not available. It’s critical to have a supply of dehydrated food on hand in case of an emergency.
  • Disposal of waste Cholera, intestinal worms, blood flukes, and typhoid fever can all be caused by not properly disposing of human faeces. As a result, a variety of waste disposal standards may apply to remote areas. Outdoor toilets or latrines positioned away from dwelling areas, rivers, streams, and other water sources, as well as composting toilets when legal, are the most popular methods of disposal. A septic tank with an underground leach field is another alternative. Plant and vegetable waste can be composted, while household garbage can be burned in a pit.
  • Security. Despite the allure of living in peace with nature, a careless resident may face some ever-present dangers. Wildlife such as bears, cougars, and wolves, as well as human outlaws, pose a threat.

The key to a successful shift to off-the-grid living, especially for individuals or single families, is extensive preparation. Before travelling to a remote location, learn survival skills such as basic woodworking, fishing, hunting, gardening, recognising regional plants, and basic first aid treatment. Being in good physical shape is also crucial, as living off the grid frequently necessitates daily physical labour.

Recognize that living alone can be challenging psychologically, and that it is not for everyone. Isolation can cause stress, anxiety, loneliness, and depression. Only one of the ten people who took part in the History Channel’s “Alone” series experienced the whole range of emotions, with one of the ten lasting up to 56 days.

What happens when you’re cut off from the rest of the world?

Going entirely off the grid entails disconnecting from all of the services to which your home is linked. Not just the electrical grid, but also the water supply and communal utilities such as rubbish collection are included.