Let the sun shine – the latest homeowners need to know before going solar
As South Africans contend with the likelihood of advanced stages of loadshedding for the foreseeable future, more homeowners are looking at ways to mitigate the impact of prolonged power outages on their daily lives.
In response, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana informed citizens during his budget speech that they can receive up to R15 000 tax rebates for installation costs of rooftop solar panels starting from March 1st - leaving many considering sun-based energy sources as their pathway towards uninterrupted power supply.
But having the latest information about where and how to start the process is a crucial first step.
While solar provides the single, most cost-effective solution for homeowners, cost-effective doesn’t necessarily mean easily affordable. “In the same way that we always advise prospective homeowners to have a budget in mind and finance in place, we also recommend that solar shoppers do a needs assessment, cost it and then research the options for financing their solar installation.
With such a high demand for solar in South Africa, banks and finance companies are starting to offer more innovative and affordable solutions, including adding the cost of solar to a home loan on registration of the bond, extending home loans to cover the cost of installation, or financing solar as a rent to buy option or even on a subscription basis.
Given that Eskom’s problems are unlikely to be resolved any time soon, the installation of solar will almost certainly enhance the resale value of a property or attractiveness to potential renters - it is therefore seen as a good investment by finance houses.
This is, of course, based on the installation being professional, compliant and adequate for the needs of the house and its occupants.
Versofy SOLAR co-founder and CEO Ross Mains-Sheard has advised hundreds of homeowners on their solar installations and gives his top tips to consider before making the decision to go solar:
- Talk to friends, neighbours and your community for recommendations of companies that they have used.
- Assess your home’s energy needs based on historical usage patterns.
- Assess your home’s capacity to support solar panels, taking into consideration surface area of the roof, orientation, pitch, and exposure to the sun.
- When you have completed these two exercises, you will be able to determine - in conjunction with a reputable solar installation company - the capacity of the solar panel and storage system you need to install.
- Ensure that your installer is accredited and uses only the best-quality materials.
- Get the necessary approvals including from the municipality, homeowners’ association, body corporate etc.
- Ensure your solar system is maintained regularly and that it is insured the same as any other household asset.
Solar installation is not only about the number of panels but also of the storage capacity of the captured solar energy based on the size of the home and appliances that people wish to keep on during a power outage. There is also the possibility that in the future, surplus energy generated may be sold back into the grid, which may provide a modest return on your investment. The Western Cape is certainly moving forward with this and it is hoped that the rest of the country will follow suit.
With the added burden of increased electricity tariffs on top of loadshedding, solar provides a reliable, safe and sustainable energy alternative to the national grid – and it only makes sense in a country with as many sunlight hours as we experience.
There are many options that make it cost-effective depending on your immediate needs and ability to outlay a large amount upfront or pay it off over time. It is certainly looked upon favourably by banks and finance houses who are making it easier for homeowners to choose solar.