The initial set up costs of installing solar panels can be quite intimidating, enough so to discourage many people from making the investment. However, with the help of a reliable company specialising in solar products and services at reasonable prices, you can make your money back in less than ten years, while substantially reducing your overall energy costs and your carbon footprint.
Solar power is an especially important alternative in South Africa, where the national electricity supplier Eskom has struggled for years to provide sufficient quality power to the population. This coupled with the fact that our climate is sunny and hot for most of the year means that South Africa is one of the world’s best suited locations for producing solar power.
It is quite difficult to accurately predict the exact payback of investing in solar panels, as it depends on variables such as the quality of the system installed, the amount of sunlight over a particular period of time, and the demands on the system.
In South Africa it typically costs between R10 000 and R25 000 to buy solar panels and set up a residential solar water heating system. Eskom will use part of the money made as a result of their much publicised tariff hikes to increase the subsidies for solar power systems from around R2500 to R7000. These improved incentives mean that almost half the cost of solar panels will be covered by Eskom for people who invest over the next couple of years. The National supplier has a total budget of R2 billion with which to subsidise solar power investment over the next five years.
The average monthly electricity bill for a South African household was calculated at R560 in 2008. With Eskoms’s increases this will rise to R1277 by 2011. For businesses which run on electric power and spend a whole lot more on electricity every month, the increases will be much more financially burdening. The high, and ever increasing, cost of conventional electricity in South Africa makes solar panelsa worthwhile investment.
Home solar panels and water heating systems generally have a lifespan of 20 to 25 years. This can be extended by a couple more years if the system is kept in good condition and the pressure valves and vacuum breakers are regularly checked.