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Solar panels: Go in with your eyes open

A study conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) revealed that apart from a safe neighbourhood, the factor that influenced home-buying decisions the most was a home’s energy efficiency.

Adrian Goslett, regional director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that these are the predominant pros and cons homeowners should consider before investing in solar panels for their homes.


Reduced utility bill

It goes without saying that using power generated from the sun will reduce the amount of electricity used from the main power grid, which will reduce the household’s utility bill. In most cases, solar panel systems save between 50% and 75% of an electricity bill.

Increases value of the home

Energy-efficient elements add value to a home, and a large percentage of the initial outlay of such elements is recouped when the property is sold.

“According to the NAHB, approximately 61% of homebuyers would be prepared to pay an additional R50,000 to R100,000 on a home that had features which would reduce utility costs,” says Goslett.

Reduced carbon footprint

Although going green will save money on utility costs and add value to the home the financial aspect it is not the only reason. It is also about sustainability and reducing the household’s effect on the environment and its surroundings. Generating energy from fossil fuels emits harmful carbon dioxide and methane which contributes to global warming – using solar panels for power does not. Solar power also doesn’t require water to process, while other energy sources do.

ConsPros vs Cons

The upfront cost

Even though solar panels have become more affordable over the years, the initial upfront cost of installation can be expensive, and it could take some time for the system to pay itself off.

Did you know? It typically takes around seven years for a solar system to pay itself off.

Won’t work on every roof

There are some roofing materials, particularly in older homes, that make it difficult to install solar panels such as slate tiles. There is also the matter of available space on the roof, many homes have limited clear space to fit the solar panels.


As with all household elements, solar panels require upkeep and maintenance, which come at an additional cost. The solar panels will need to be cleaned, repaired when necessary and insured.


Review overview
  • Marius Fourie 11th July 2017

    Good short summary.

    PV systems have come down to closer than 5 years payback at current domestic electricity rates and system costs. For new or renovating projects, its also a good idea to heat geysers via PV rather than using additional solar water heating systems. A slightly bigger system adds less cost than a separate heating system. Even using PV as a separate solar heating system is becomming an option, with new products being developed. Cheaper, much less maintenance, does not burst, use power elsewhere if geyser is hot, but more roof space needed. Watch this space.

    Not cleaning panels will reduce yield by about 6% on average. So if cleaning is a pain, that will be the price you pay. Maintenace should be close to zero and warranties on good panels are 10 years on workmanship and 25 years performance. The electronics generally have a 5 year warranty.

  • Keith 11th July 2017

    The payback on PV of 5 years does this include batteries to store the power ?

    • Marius Fourie 11th July 2017

      No, batteries are excluded, see it as two different systems with two different purposes. The purpose of a PV system is to save power. That has a payback.

      The purpose of a battery system is business continuity in case of a business, or convenience at home. The benefit is keeping your business open, fridges cold, people working, etc. in case of a power failure. So you have to quantify the value of that.

      At home, you do not sit in the dark, and see the rugby while the power is off. Quantify that!

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