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House De Swart
Taking a residential property off the grid

The de Swart Family, hails from sunny and warm Durban, South Africa. Seeking refuge in Cape Town they very quickly settled in and is now calling “Melkbosstrand” on the west coast their home. Below follows a breakdown of how we have been systematically taking Mr. de Swart’s home off the grid.

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Project overview

The challenge

Mr. de Swart contacted me in September of 2021. His request was simple. Make load shedding not be a problem for me and my family anymore and if you can let’s try to take Eskom out of the picture completely.

We decided on a phased approach to not break the bank but also to be able to judge the true need before throwing money at the problem. Load shedding was not letting up and at this “stage” was hitting us 1 or 2 times a day for 4 hours at a time without power. In most cases leaving the power on for two-thirds of the day. Load shedding was thus a major part of the brief as well as utilizing solar power to be able to lower the cost of electricity.

Moving into a new house it was almost impossible for us to get real-world information that would be directly applicable to the new house, we had to work on past data from de Swart's previous property and general averages from other properties similarly sized.

Roof Space was somewhat limited, and we had to think out of the box to ensure optimal use of every square meter available. The roof space is luckily optimally angled and adds to the success of the project.

With information on hand and site evaluations and surveys completed, we were ready to compile and execute the plan.

The Solution

We would start by covering the largest portion of the roof facing North with as many panels as we could fit.  

I used an average consumption of 62kwh per day based on previous consumption data and an average specific yield from this location of around 1670 kwh/kwp/a. The result herein is that 13.5kwp installed solar would be necessary to generate enough energy to bring the property to 0 consumption from the grid.

This number is unreachable however with the easily accessible roof space, which only allowed for around 8kwp to be installed. The first 10 panels left the property with a projected energy shortfall of around 60%. Thus, we had to dig for energy elsewhere.​ The battery would have to be rather big to support this system. The battery would have to help reduce the impact of the energy shortfall by storing generated energy for later use when the sun is around, and of course, stand ready for when the grid falls away.

We opted to start with: 1x 8kW Sunsynk inverter, 1x Freedom Won 10/8 battery, and 10x545 W solar panels to harvest the lovely Westcoast sun. We also prepared soon after concluding the initial installation a generator point where Mr. De Swart now has his generator on standby to charge up his batteries or support load in case of emergency situations. The inverter takes this input like a champ stabilizing any dirty frequencies that might slip through, making for seamless integration and worry-free use.

We still sat with a projected shortfall. Our client opted to optimize the energy consumption of the property even further. 2 Flat plate water heaters were in place already, alleviating the pressure of having to use electricity for heating water, yet the system still had the need for some electrical input on a daily basis. With 2 geysers servicing the house it was no easy feat. The geyser system received a good service making sure the whole system functioned optimally. With some minor alterations, more energy savings were achieved. At this stage, each kwh counted.

Throughout the house old switching devices and dated lamps and light fittings were causing a further unnecessary strain on the household’s reliance on grid power. After making some minor alterations and installing newer generation lamps and optimizing switching with smart devices energy could be saved
even further.

Then Mr. De Swart decided to pull the trigger on a state-of-the-art gas geyser system to support the existing flat plate collector system, optimizing this even further and lowering their dependency on grid-energized water heating. The first Summer had passed and we could see what the effect was, tweaking
settings on the inverter, our client could set up and change parameters as and when they wanted and see fit from the comfort of their lounge via the smart app linked directly to the inverter.

In June of 2022, we were able to use the previous energy information wisely and add 5 more panels to the system as well as expand with another 10kwh of storage. And now after all the various optimizations and our client settling into their property, we have managed to cover most of their daily consumption needs with solar and stored energy in the battery bank. Bringing their average monthly cash savings to around R2500 and their projected savings to date over 2 years to over R45000 putting them right on track to a 6-to-8-year payback period.

We are currently adding more smart features to the property to further increase control and increase the benefit of the energy freedom brought home by solar power.

next steps

In conclusion, Energy liberation is a never-ending journey and looks different for everyone. All our needs are different and need to be handled differently.

At le Grange Services we consider each one’s personal needs and cater to them with specialized and tailored solutions.  

Do you want to be like Mr. de Swart? Call us today!!

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