Tired of sitting in the dark? Here are some alternatives to Eskom power and how much they cost

28 September 2022 - 12:38
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Taking your home off the grid can be expensive but at least it keeps the lights on. Stock photo.
Taking your home off the grid can be expensive but at least it keeps the lights on. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Diyana Dimitrova

Frequent rolling blackouts have left many South Africans rushing to buy alternative energy sources to keep the lights on. Some “setups” can cost a fortune, while others just a few rand.

The country is experiencing stages 3 and 4 load-shedding until Thursday, a downgrade from stage 6 a few weeks ago.

Eskom has blamed breakdowns at several generating units for the outages and said it was working hard to address SA's energy crisis.

The Sunday Times reported that the cabinet met about forming a new board at the power utility. A few days later, public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan said there would soon be a restructuring.

As the government moves to fix the catastrophe, President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged South Africans to use electricity sparingly.

“We must come together as citizens to alleviate the pressure on the national grid. This means using electricity sparingly, reporting illegal connections and paying for the electricity we use,” he said.

“Businesses, households and government departments that owe Eskom must pay so Eskom is better able to undertake the critical maintenance needed to keep the lights on.”

Gatvol of constantly being in the dark? Here are some solutions to shed some light and how much they could cost:


Going solar can be cost-effective in the long-run but is generally the most expensive to install.

Besides a roof and solar panels, you will need a mounting kit, inverter and batteries.

A study by Procompare, an online platform connecting clients with local professionals, said going solar could cost anything from R60,000 and R200,000 for panels and installation. 


Petrol and diesel generators are handy to keep the lights on but are often noisy and you have the added cost of fuel.

A basic 2-stroke 650W petrol generator costs about R2,500 and will keep the essentials on, while a larger but still portable generator could cost more than R50,000.

As with any alternative power source, be careful not to exceed the total wattage of the generator by calculating the wattage of the appliances, plugs and lights you have on and the maximum wattage generated.

Also, remember to have good ventilation because carbon monoxide gas is deadly.


A UPS, known as an uninterruptible power supply or uninterruptible power source, can sustain electronic equipment for up to eight hours. A simple UPS to keep the Wi-Fi on, costs about R800, while a 6,000W unit can cost more than R110,000.


Your signal may not be the best when there is load-shedding, but you can still connect to the internet with your mobile phone by creating a hotspot.

One gigabyte of data costs R85 at MTN, R65 at Cell C, R85 at Vodacom and R79 at Telkom. 


Get your friends' load-shedding schedules and if they are different from yours, visit them when your lights go out.

The cost of petrol is R22.95/l for 93 unleaded, R23.38/l for 95 unleaded and R23.96/l for 500ppm diesel.


Candles, torches, lamps and LED lights come in handy on those dark nights. Candles are the most cost-effective. A pack of six costs R43.

Just be sure to teach everyone in the house about fire safety. 


The cheapest option is to sit in the dark and wait for load-shedding to end. 

But if you want a cup of tea while you wait, a 500ml flask costs about R100.

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