How to beat load shedding. Solar power vs. Diesel Generators

We all know that load shedding is here to stay. According to Stats SA, it one of the biggest reasons the South African economy is struggling. Eskom predicts that load shedding will be with us until 2017, but then again the Medupi Power Station was supposed to be operational back in 2012. Who knows when the South African energy situation will stabilise?


Stats SA says more and more companies and business are turning to alternative power producers to keep them afloat. But what is the best form of power production to protect you from the effects of load shedding? Is it generators, or is it solar power. Let’s see how these two compare to each other.


Petrol and Diesel Generators


There are two types of generators, standby generators and portable generators. Standby generators are big and fixed to one spot. The idea is that during load shedding they power the entire household.


Portable generators range from extremely basic to digitally controlled. All of these have diesel or petrol engines with a plug socket on the front. For the most part they can only run one multi plug socket at a time.


Generator must be operational in order to work. In other words, a generator must be running for it to supply any power to connected appliances, even if the power required is minimal or intermittent. This means that they are actually inefficient as they use the same amount of fuel whether they power one appliance or multiple appliances. The amount of fuel used depends on the size of the generator.

Most of the time a generator is used because of its convenience. It simply needs to be switched on and connected to an appliance to work.




A 750 Watt Stramm generator will cost about R1000. If you are looking for a bit more power, then you can go for a 2 300 Watt Ryobi that will go for around R3 400. At the top of the range is the 161kg Kipor 8 500 Watt petrol generator that retails at about R26 000.


Solar systems


Solar power systems is long term solution to load shedding. The initial costs of solar is more than connecting a generator, but in the long term it will be much more beneficial.


A generator that is strong enough to power 10 lights, TV, decoder, home alarm, 3 chargers, desktop computer, fridge, kettle and stove or microwave will set you back about R7 490.


An average solar power system will be more expensive than this, but the amount that you will save will undoubtedly benefit you in the long run. A solar power system will have a longer lifespan, require much less maintenance and within two to three years it will actually pay for itself. Not only will you make money from a solar power system, but you will also add value to your property.


Another thing to consider is when you buy a generator you must still buy the fuel for it to produce power. With a solar power system you pay a once off cost for equipment and installation and from there it produce electricity.

So, everything considered, a generator can be seen as a bandage to temporarily tie you over the inconveniences and effects of load shedding. A more permanent solution and investment will be to install a solar power system.

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