Got spoiled by solar!

I think most of us here got use to solar and hardly ever experience a power outage.

When I was staying in Phalaborwa, my battery bank was sufficient to get me through the night, I moved that system as it was to Pretoria and am sitting with a oversize PV array in an area that is not suppose to see loadshedding. In addition to that the children is growing up fast and interests changes constantly.

My 14 year old daughter started her own business. She is breeding fish and growing aquatic plants. All of a sudden there is over 30 aquariums on the premises, all with a heater of between 50W and 300W. Constant load of about 2.5kwh just for her. With 4 geysers, swimming pool heat pump and the normal loads we exceed 6kwh often and peak at about 9kw.

My house is fed from an overhead line across the road. The 80A breaker feeding my home is right on top of that pole, not covered and exposed to the sun and rain for over 2 years from what the previous owner tells me. From the time we moved in in September, this breaker will randomly trip. Lately at 04H20 (20 min after one geyser started) and roughly 12 noon.

First it tripped when VRM recorded just over 40A, but as time went by, it tripped more frequently and is now tripping at as low as 22A at noon when the breaker is nice and hot from staring at the sun the whole day.

I allow self consumption of the battery and because of the banks small size and the high loads, the battery cant handle the load from the early morning trip till the MPPT’s kick in and normally just before we wake up in the morning, the battery runs out and everything is off. The sun hits the panels just about the time the kids are at school, so every morning its chaos getting them ready for school in the dark. Quite stressful after not experiencing a power outage for years.

I have been reporting this issue for months, but as we know, nothing gets done. Even got the number of the electrical supervisor and explained everything to him. Got told to get an electrical contractor with recorders to prove its not something in my house tripping the power. So i started sending him VRM reports and that confused the situation even further. We are currently experiencing 2 trips per day and this afternoon at 4 I decided to complain on our local ratepayers group. I knew there were a few counselors on there that is still shopping for votes and send them them a video of the breaker that was not covered and explained the situation. Just before 6, two very upset council electricians stopped at my house and went up to reset the breaker like they did 100 times before, everytime promising me they will return with a new breaker and a cover to protect the breaker against the elements. As the guy got into his truck to leave, I asked him when I can expect the new breaker. He said I must rather fix the problem in my house. After some serious conversation, he took the breaker and cover that he was send with from the seat next to him and completed the work.

Kudos to the councilors for getting right (in less than 2 Hours) what I could not achieve in a few months.


For those who read this and thought, “Okay the trip at 4 am makes sense, but why does Jaco exceed 6kwh at noon if he says he’s got too many panels”

Well sometimes my old SD meter does an about-face and the system donates more than 6kwh to the guys who keeps on resetting my breaker.

That daughter of yours deserves the best, pa koop vir haar nog 'n Multi en 'n battery of 2. :smily

When we moved to the farm almost 2 years ago now, the transformer was stolen, so Eskom installed a new one a week before we moved in.

The transformer sits skew on the pole, looks like it’s hanging on for deer life, if I had R20 for every person who over the last 2 years came here and pointed out to me that the transformer is about to bliksem off, I could probably afford to drink Johnnie Blue.

I’ve been reporting it since day one, by now I even have cellphone numbers of Eskom techs who work in the area, but I simply get nowhere. The closest I got so far was one of the Eskom techs telling me it’s not their job, it’s another team who installs transformers on the poles, they only connect them up afterwards.

So far it survived hectic rain and winds, but the problem should that thing eventually bliksem off, is that Eskom apparently have no stock of transformers, a guy I know just down the road from us got a new transformer 2 weeks ago, after waiting for one for just under a month, they eventually traced one down for him somewhere in the Free State.

Yes, spoiled by solar indeed. My system caters eloquently for all our needs and I also allow battery consumption to keep that bill as low as possible. It’s heart warming to be able to do this, but the system has not really worked as much as it should’ve.

The reason being that our area is fed by 2 different lines. When our substation trips, it is always only a certain area in our neighborhood that it affected. The other residents is fine and that includes us. So it sounds weird (almost sick) to say that sometimes I think we should’ve lived in that problematic area because I have the means to cater for it where many of those residents don’t.

And then I think aaag nee wat julle bliksems, run your generators and suffer want julle wil mos nie luister nie. It is an old established neighborhood with very large erven and the people are very well off judging by the house sizes and the subdivisions taking place for extra rental incomes etc. They can afford to go solar but the uptake is slow.

We got very lucky to own a property here. The main stand was subdivided into three some years ago of which we have one, so much smaller than the average house here - that and the fact that it was a “projek huis” needing lots of work.

But solar has made me a main konyn amongst these mere mortals and I only sit and snicker when the moaning and bitching starts to take place on the local Whatsapp group!

Jaco, where does your daughter sell her fish and plants? My inlaws are moving house within 2-3 months and they sit with a swimming pool full of Khoi (probably about 350 of them needs to be dealt with.

My house came with 2 smallish ponds so I offered to take about 30 of their hands and they seem to do well. But the rest will need to be sold or donated. (an issue is that skoonma is under the mistaken impression that she could get pet shop prices for these and does not want to listen to reason) Eish, oumense get more stingy by the day.

Been wondering about that myself … :innocent:

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Why has he not gone up there with his sparkies and sorted the issue himself? (Legal or not.)

Read your post. I started off with UPS’es when LS first “showed up” in Cpt in ±2008, working from home and all that.

That morphed into a Victron system, with mistakes made (and rectified), but by then not for LS, for ROI.

17kWh bank in for additional ROI, and the fun in and around DIY banks.

The fact that LS was also being sorted was just a side bonus on my journey.

Yes, agreed, lots of time and effort was spent to mitigate LS woes, but for the last number of years, LS was not my focus.

Cause I knew, one day, either SA will be a wasteland (Eskom collapsed) OR LS is less, one day even over … then what?

All of this reminds me of #DayZero in Cpt.
People went bossies with securing their water supply systems. Years later, many of those systems have fallen into disrepair after users have spent thousands on pumps, filters, sensors, boreholes and whatnot. The cost is never to be recouped. It was big business at the time.

Solar systems. One day, all that one has spent, will have to be replaced.

But what do I know?

Over twenty-five years ago, I put in a borehole (101m), an expensive proposition for a young man.
R50 per metre (Vat incl.).
I built 4 large (8m3 ea.) septic tank systems, around the same time.
I also installed a capable underground stormwater drain system together with a 50mm2 water reticulation system.
Once it was done it was all buried over, and it looked like I had made no improvements on the property.
Quite heart-breaking at the time, and yes, you’re right if the property is ever sold the value of those sunken costs will never be recouped. On the other hand, my property will never attract taxes commensurate with my invisible investments.
It cost a lot of money, I could have bought a new Mercedes instead.
My water needs are sorted forever-ish and I have an older Toyota.
In hindsight, it was money well spent.
I view my impending solar investment in the same vein.

It’s like wiring up your own house. You’ll never get that investment back but at least you can work on your electrical setup without risking your life!

That got done as well.
But that is not nearly as permanent a fix.
Solar, fibre optics, the internet, smart switches, POE CCTV etc have happened in the ensuing quarter of a century.
It was easier to predict the demise of local services than it was to predict how integral technological advances were to become in our everyday lives.
So I think that job will warrant a whole new redo.

Where I live, and in the neighbouring suburb, there’s a set of people we could term “property rich, cash poor”. And this is not unique to those two suburbs. I bet we all know somebody in this situation.

They have a nice (on paper and by location) property and they’ve had it for years. Their income is sufficient to pay the bills and put meals on the table. And that’s about it. They can’t improve the property. They can get a second mortgage, but now that’s a payment you have to meet every month or you will find that the bank now owns your home. They can’t sell and downsize because they’re going to take a knock, and all of the places they’re thinking they’d like to live in have large levies. One friend moved into a much smaller home in a retirement village and found that her bills went up and she is further away from everything.

A lot of people haven’t provided adequately for their retirement. South Africans, polls repeatedly show, are not good savers.

I am now a “consultant” at my place of work, but I officially retired a couple of years ago. The team I’m part of asked me if I had any wisdom gained from my years of experience that I would like to impart. I told them that whatever they’re saving for retirement they should double it.

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Or, in my neck of the woods anyway, we have people who gone out on a big financial limb. They have bought up so that their kids fall into the catchment area of good schools. They go bust putting those children through schools, and then unsympathetic or unknowing neighbours complain that their gutters haven’t been painted, or that they don’t pay for security (they can’t afford to) and so don’t contribute to the safety of the neighbourhood.

I learnt about some of these people when I joined in a neighbourhood watch and did shifts with them. It’s not that they don’t care, they do otherwise they wouldn’t be up patrolling at 2 in the morning. But they have spent everything in the piggy bank to get their kids a better start in life.

Reminds me of success stories, where kids had nothing growing up, but become very sensible adults.
Also the reverse, kids got everything, and never resulted in being able to sustain themselves.
We know people on both sides of the coin.

I don’t “buy into” one must give your kids everything. One must teach them pearls of life, THAT give them THE best chance to succeed IF they want to grab that.

I read that as an ROI, fact that you don’t have to pay taxes. That is a plus in my view.

Yes you do. At least, supposed to.

A totally other perspective:
What I also realized, owning a home is NOT an investment. It is an expense. A liability.
Who has ever documented every cent they have spent over the years staying in a house, down to the brackets, and screws?
Cause the day you sell it, at “market-related price”, turning the liability into cash, having done that sum of the actual real total costs to that point, one may sit back and say WOW, I made a profit or “O my word, I’m making a loss!”.

Owning a home is a liability … until you sell it.

True… but perhaps a bit cynical. You have to live somewhere, and that will always have certain costs. You have those costs regardless of whether you buy or rent. Even when you rent, you clean the place, you probably keep gutters clean, you replace blown lamps, and so forth. Municipal accounts are just passed on, in many cases. With the exception of large scale modifications or paint, counting every cent of the small stuff is of no use, that is the same regardless of where you live.

Therefore the question is simply whether I lose less money this way, than I would if I rented. That is the easier one, because the answer is usually a positive one.

The second question is whether I lose/gain more money by living in this house rather than the smaller less expensive one in a less glamorous neighbourhood, and that is where it gets interesting. There is some kind of happy medium, and just about all of us probably believe we managed to more or less hit it, but overall, the millionaire’s mindset will always buy a middle class house in an older neighbourhood, close to a school. Not only for your own kids, but because when you sell it, it is half likely to be important again.

Even with this advice, most people report that after subtracting all the expenses on the house from the growth, it barely beats inflation, if at all. To which I say, that sounds like good news: It sounds like you’re practically living there for free then.


Once listened to this financial guru, a super clever lady, talk about rental vs owning, that is where I started thinking about it all the first time.

Renting, at the right price, CAN be cheaper than owning a home, seeing that we all have to pay to have a roof over our heads.

Ok, the screws and brackets are a bridge too far … but the expenses we recently incurred, the maintenance, liewe vader!!!

Oh absolutely, and there are definitely some of these guys in our hood. The ones that complain the most though on the group about power outages are guys that I KNOW can afford it having dealt with them before on CPF concerns. You get to know the people with street braais also.

These guys just choose not to go solar for reasons of their own.

My inlaws are now going through this. Massive house on a very large piece of land, but the house was never “completed” - a developers dream. They even have space and approved plans for 6 flats to be built on it.

But now they grew old and is tired of the upkeep required and is moving to a lock up and go with big levies which now adds to the budget. Thing is, if that house was properly renovated or finished (lots of add one rooms, braai areas etc that was never finished), then they would’ve gotten their price of approx R5mil.

Now they have to stare reality in the eyes and had to settle for R2,8mil after about a year in the market. Because the buyer either have to knock down everything and start over, or finish what was started. Both which are going to cost a substantial amount which will influence your offered price.

This keeps me awake at night, seeing the mistakes that other people made (including myself). I started too late in life and I have only 10 years left to work before I get the golden handshake.
I am saving like a madman now but at least I have been debt free for a few years (bonds and vehicles) I might just make it.

I would have to make my house wheelchair friendly though because I might not be able to afford to move out now… :laughing:

There is a nice thread on the 4x4 Community Forum about wasteful expenditure, retirement etc that makes for entertaining reading. I’ll see if I can find it.

Going on 6 pages now, but at least I didn’t make all those mistakes that are mentioned there by family, friends etc.

Its entertaining, worth a read.

Looked at our house, no bond.
Decided to start renting rooms/parts out because of the design, to younger people. Passing it on if you want.

Said to the wife … so one can invest the money at X return in the markets.
Or, one can use the money wisely and create a place for people to rent parts, and earn a X+Y return.
We have the “location location location”.

Cause everyone has to pay to stay/live somewhere.

So far we are living free, no R&T’es, no electricity costs and I’m 50% done. :slight_smile:
If I get gatvol later much after, need to go to frail care or whatnot, Option 1, continue the rentals incl the main house then or Option 2, sell it and be done with it all.

Pension is sorted either way.

Just an idea to maybe also consider.

Ps. Context.
Before we started renting out, we had 6 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, 3 showers/toilet bathroom (maw baie plek om te k_k) … for 4 people. So let’s make money! I said. :wink:

Off street parking the only challenge, but I have a Plan b, c etc for one day.

Eskom will tax your solar, so there is no point. It said so on the internet.

But of course yes. :rofl:

I read some of it. It reminded me of a colleague of my wife (once, a long time ago). Always short of money. Lives with his girlfriend, two kids. Overall not a bad guy, but makes a lot of poor decisions. Let’s call him Basil (not his real name).

Basil smokes. So much that his teeth is black. When his colleagues tell him how much money he can save by quitting the habit, Basil says there is no point, since the money will simply disappear into the many doctor’s bills his kids rack up.

Basil needed a car. A colleague’s grandmother was selling an 80s Corolla. This car had less than 100k km on the odo and had all the suspension done rather recently. Good car, no issues with it. Basil is happy for a bit.

Basil’s girlfriend doesn’t have a driver’s license, but he lets her use the car. One night she goes out, and drives the car into a steel barrier. Car is still usable, but somewhat badly dented. Basil decides he needs a new car.

His colleagues tell him to buy a good secondhand car. Basil is not impressed. Basil buys a new VW Polo.

The repayments are barely affordable, but he makes up for it with a sizeable balloon payment, and the cheapest insurance money cannot buy.

Basil’s girlfriend goes out with the car again, and gets into an accident again (not even her fault). They lie to the insurance and say he was driving (that is fraud), and convince them to repair the car and not write it off. Now Basil has a code 3 Polo that can’t be sold for what he owes on it.

Basil rents a flat from his employer, who gives him discount on the condition that he does minor maintenance around the place, such as keeping the pool clean. The pool isn’t always very clean.

The bathroom ceiling is completely black with fungal growth, because neither he nor his girlfriend apparently knows how to clean it.

Then Basil decides he should marry his girlfriend. First good decision he has made in years… if only he could make it stick, but they end up divorcing, putting him back even further.

He then decides he needs a better job, but in the process has to move out of the subsidised place he lives in, making it at best a sideways move.

He now works with a former colleague of mine, who I still occasionally speak with. I ask him one day, about how Bassil is doing… it turns out Bassil is still borrowing money from his colleagues to make it through the month.