Can You Run Your Home Exclusively via Solar Energy?

With pressure on both the cost and, indeed, reliability of South Africa’s troubled national energy grid, many consumers are exploring ways of becoming less reliant on this supply. While in our part of the world, harnessing the power of the sun offers one notable alternative, is it plausible to rely solely on solar?

As the South African consumer prepares for a sixteenth straight year of so-called load-shedding (power cuts), the news of an imminent 18.65 percent increase in the cost of this broadly unreliable basic service has proved to be a catalyst for many households to explore viable options of becoming altogether less dependent on this supply.

The world’s first stand-alone solar home was completed in 1983 in New York’s Hudson River Valley. Since then, advances in solar PV technology have made this sustainable solution more efficient, accessible, and generally more affordable.

In a part of the world that’s, on average, bathed in more than 2,500 hours of sunshine per year (location-dependent), solar-based solutions are seen as an increasingly appealing means of generating energy for both industrial and residential use.  In many modern homes, how viable is it to rely solely on the power of the sun to sustain the energy requirements of an average-sized household?


The first consideration before committing to an exclusively solar-based solution is just how much energy you require to run your home. With the average South African home consuming around 10 000 to 20 000 kWh of energy per year (830 to 1660 kWh per month), the cost of a solar PV installation, including the inverter and BESS (battery storage system) will be determined by just how much energy you feel you need to live comfortably. Remember that appliances or furnishings that generate heat, including ovens, stoves, kettles, hair dryers, toasters, tumble dryers, and air conditioners, are heavy consumers of energy.

While the design of your home’s roof, as well as the overall positioning of your house in relation to the sun’s trajectory, will need to be considered in terms of the installation of an adequate number of solar PV (photovoltaic) panels, a modern solar system is also dependent on battery storage. These BESS (battery energy storage systems) are used to store energy generated throughout the day for later use, including during periods of inclement weather conditions. On this note, an efficient solar PV system is generally planned for the “worst-possible” scenario.

Remember that a solar PV system is broadly scalable, meaning that there are solutions available to suit all requirements and, indeed, budgets. While many South African consumers are jaded by the prospect of continued reliance on this country’s national power supply and would love to make the switch to an altogether more sustainable and environmentally friendly solar solution, it’s recommended to consult with a reputable, certified supplier and installer who can provide an end to end solution to establish how best to integrate the power of the sun into a specific living environment.