The March school holidays were around the corner but nobody could have envisioned the sudden staycation South African families are now finding themselves in the midst of.
We’re all on a mission to flatten the CoronaVirus curve, through self-isolation and social distancing.
So while the eight-hours of available child care many of us take for granted is no longer available, as schools and day-care facilities have closed – it’s time to put your game plan together for the next four weeks or so of being under home quarantine.
To start, develop a #StayatHome Family Charter highlighting each other’s strengths and weaknesses - as well as defining each person's expectations during this time of being in each other’s space, while trying not to be in each other’s space.
It will go a long way to stem any upcoming cabin fever.
If you haven’t done so already, it’s important for you to discuss the situation truthfully with your family, especially your younger kids who might have a lot of questions. We may think they’ve been properly informed at school – but sit down as a family, stem the panic by watching useful videos - What is Coronavirus Covid19, How can we stop it from spreading and What are the Symptoms is a good place to start.
South Africa’s official Coronavirus Covid-19 hotline – 0600 123456 - is the best source of contact and factual information to follow. Make sure you are doing this in an age-appropriate manner. Also, don’t be like Trump! Nip any discrimination or stigma about the virus in the bud. This is a great opportunity to teach our kids about tolerance.
As the next couple of weeks loom large, try a few of these suggestions to make the most if.
Set your daily routine!
Many have advocated to keeping to a routine of waking up early and being productive, as per normal. Don't succumb to the natural urge of snacking on all the stock-piled treats, all at once. If you’re up for it try one of the many #StayatHome challenges doing the rounds on social media. Ratchet up 3 000 burpees in 30 days. If you can’t do 100 all in one go, break it up into four sets of 25 that you and the family can tackle together during the course of the day. Or you may just want to teach them the Art of Yoga. Get a couple of stretches in first thing in the morning.
Balancing the act of working from home
Defining your office work space is a good start. While it will be difficult to keep the little ones at bay most of the time - setting this up, together with a workable routine that includes a couple of the below suggestions is going really help those parents who have to work from home. Have older kids? Why not encourage their inner master chef by getting them to get a head start on cooking the family meals. Do they love pizza and pasta? No better time to learn to make it fresh at home. Sure, it will be messy but that will be half the fun.
Schedule your entertainment
From Netflix to DSTV Now, streaming services that allow logins on more than one device are going to really come in handy. Three-hour long The Irishman? No problem. But what else is good to binge on? Create a WhatsApp review group to share the top shows and series you’re watching. Also check out this jam-packed entertainment guide from News24.
You can't go outdoors!
reviously we advised walks on the beach - this is no longer possible stick to your yard and stay safe - sunshine and vitamin D are instrumental to maintain a good immune system and can certainly help in the fight against Corona.
Go green in the garden
It’s the ideal time to transition your garden for the change of seasons from summer to autumn. You can all get your hands dirty mulching the soil or preparing bulbs. Show the kids how easy it is to create a terrarium or teach them about the wonders of spekboom. Over the next couple of weeks, you can drive home the soil to table concept by getting some easy-to-grow veggie seedlings in the ground - and then harvesting them a bit later down the line.
Reading books is a lost art
While you might have your own personal must-read list of books to get through, you can certainly spend a couple of hours reading with your younger ones. For your older kids why not stimulate their critical thinking by first getting them to read a popular book and then watch the movie version. Get them to share the changes they've noted; which version they preferred and why.
Free write some poetry or keep a journal
Taking the time to journal is a great means of self-reflection, as well as working through things we think we’re not equipped to deal with. Poetic expression could also be a creative outlet for a rather bleak time in the world right now. Make an evening of it as you all recite what you've come up with to each other. No judgies, no pressure. It certainly can be an interesting point of reflection once all of this is over.
Play “Elaborate reminiscing”
Similarly, the art of conversation tends to take a back seat to virtual chats and online things. Tap into developing your children’s memories creatively by setting a specific play time to include reminiscing. Get them to describe various holidays or notable experiences they’ve shared in the past. Where were they, what did they see, can they describe the sights and sounds. How did it make them feel and why? Ultimately, it will give you all the opportunity to relive the moment.
Organise all your digital photos
If your phone's memory is taking strain, then this is a must-do. Delete the unflattering selfies, keep the good-hair day ones or quirky smile shots. Sort them according to the then-and-now moments you actually want to have printed and framed.
Take a tik-tok challenge
Yes, it’s the latest craze amongst tweens these days, but since you're getting them to experiment with things that you mostly prefer, there is no reason you can’t join in on their fun. From doubling up in a dance duo to landing a cool bottle flip in the most unusual manner – your home quarantine will give you enough time to perfect it.
Learn a new language
While you might have had to put an international trip on hold this school holidays, and with good reason – you can still keep the excitement flowing by learning the mother tongue of the destination you planning to visit at a later date. Download Duolingo – and practice the simple sayings with each other from standard greetings to simple questions like, “Have you washed your hands?”
Finger paint or learn to do origami
From little paper butterflies to the symbolic crane, it will keep little hands busy. Anything that stimulates the mind will go a long way in helping to ease the frustration and boredom of being in the same space for an extended period of time.
Pick one room to do a complete make-over
With all the beautiful, creative keepsakes you’ll be making – you can take it a step further. Throw-out the things that no longer ‘spark joy’ and replace them with the things that do. Before tackling the room, have fun by creating a DIY vision board. Solidify the theme and style and then assign an element of the make-over to each family member so it can be a family project to be proud of.
Find a way to give back
Many of us have the luxury of working from home or being more in control of this crisis facing us than most. It’s still possible to help out during this social distancing phase. #CoronaKindness has taken on a life of its own and you can get in on it too. If possible, start by giving your char paid time off so they too can self-isolate without worrying about paying the bills. Get all family member hands on deck to do the daily chores. Otherwise, check on an elderly neighbour to see if you can get their shopping list done for them – they’re said to be most at risk right now.
The next couple of weeks won’t be easy, but we can do this.
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The arrival of the Corona virus COVID-19 to South Africa’s shores, as confirmed cases escalate, will only add to SA’s stalled economy, say experts.
The economy shrank by 1.4% in the fourth quarter of 2019 – as consumers remain under pressure. This with an interest rate cut in January, with the possibility of a further rate cut in March (with a COVID-19 fallout to intensify this prospect) - as Moody’s is set to make a call on downgrading SA’s credit rating on 27th March.
"We expect the virus' impact on the residential property market to be relatively small when compared to its effect on other key sectors,” says Andrew Amoils, Wealth Analyst for New World Wealth. He says sectors expected to be hardest hit by the virus will be “tourism, retail, mining, manufacturing and transport".
Erwin Rode, CEO of Rode & Associates property consultants also added the virus that has already affected the world economy as productivity suffers - largely due to China's shutdown - is sure to be "bad for the property market" too.
“In South Africa, it will affect some of our crucial commodity exports. What is bad for the economy, is bad for the residential and non-residential property markets, so it now seems likely that house prices will decline in nominal terms this year."
“The only good news is the price of oil that has collapsed,” says Rode. A price war has erupted between Saudi Arabia and Russia, with Brent Crude down some 30% a barrel on Monday. Fuel prices dropped by 19 cents a litre and diesel by 54 cents a litre on 4 March – but it is expected to be short lived as Finance minister Tito Mboweni announced an increase in fuel levies for South African motorists during his Budget 2020 speech.
The general fuel levy will be increased by 16 cents a litre for petrol and diesel, while the Road Accident Fund (RAF) levy will also increase by 9 cents a litre for petrol and diesel on 1 April 2020.
Overall, Investec forecasts SA's economic risk has increased in the face of rate cuts and a poor credit ratings.
Covid-19 is now expected to have a much greater impact on global economic growth than previously thought - with the International Monetary fund saying last week "global growth would dip below last year's rate of 2.9%".
While Investec’s severe down case for SA includes the impact of a severe global pandemic, it says a number of other factors must be considered as well in the scenario, "which remains an international led scenario impact on SA". It would reassess the impact once more conclusive data becomes available at the start of April.
"A global recession would necessitate a more severe downwards revision to SA’s expected case economic outlook. Moody’s includes a peer comparison basis in its rating of SA, and so an environment where all countries’ growth rates drop, and the IMF steps in with financial assistance, would likely need to be newly factored into Moody’s considerations."
"We continue to believe that it will be a very close call whether Moody’s downgrades SA’s credit, but marginally lean towards the chance of no downgrade."
Working out how much you can afford when buying a property is simple. Use a bond affordability calculator to understand what you can afford when buying a home.
An affordability calculator works out the home loan amount you can apply for. Your salary after tax, total monthly expenses, interest rate and loan term (years over which you will pay off your bond) are used to estimate the total loan amount you can afford with the monthly repayment amount.
Using the affordability calculator
As a general rule, you should look at spending no more than a third of your monthly income (after tax and deductions) towards your monthly bond repayments. Make use of a bond affordability calculator to understand what you can afford when buying a property. Calculate what you can afford using the Affordability Calculator.
Using the bond calculator
A bond calculator is used to calculate the monthly home loan installments and the interest added over the loan period. This will determine your affordability level by calculating your income against main bond variables and other monthly expenses. Calculate your monthly mortgage repayments using the Bond Calculator.
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A bold move by Cape Town to ‘break free’ from Eskom will have a great impact on its property values.
Following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement to ‘fix the fundamentals’ at last week’s SONA address, the breakaway from Eskom through alternate energy sources and the speeding up of licences to generate more than 1MW of power, shows clear signs of hope for the Commercial Real Estate industry.
The property sector has been at the mercy of Eskom and new measures being put in place will see growth in real estate values in the long-run. Welcoming both local and global independent sustainable power producers into the market will boost market confidence and see significant investments into South Africa. The question is, how fast can this happen, and can we afford to wait?
Uninterrupted power supply to Cape Town through the creation of its own power generation will see small businesses relocating from Johannesburg to Cape Town, while larger Johannesburg-based businesses would have already put plans in place to generate their own power”. Based on this, the prediction is a land price increase towards areas like Atlantis as a commercial hub.
The Real Price of Power Cuts
The replacement of equipment and increased maintenance due to power cuts is costing the industry. Increasingly, landlords are moving towards being sustainable and self-sufficient. If you are not making your portfolio sustainable then you are behind the curve. Today, tenants want to know if a property is equipped with a generator, solar power etc. and this has become a key selling point.
In addition, the news of Moody’s growth forecast down from 1 percent to 0.7 percent has once again placed a negative sentiment on South Africa. There is a lot pressure on the market and there isn’t a lot of growth to drive the market. We are seeing upward pressure on interest rates and a reduction of 25 basis points has very little impact on the industry.
Landlords want to see a clear decrease in interest rates. 100 points, for instance, will have a big impact on the industry. Landlords still have debt to service – regardless of whether they have a tenant or not.
Signs of Hope post-SONA
There are two additional key take-outs from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s SONA address to consider:
Land Expropriation: To a large degree, land expropriation has no impact on large commercial property owners, nor does it concern them. Where there is plans to develop land, we do not foresee it being taken away and don’t believe that there is any reason to panic”.
Infrastructure Investments: Talk of a smart city, a new university and a major dam to name a few will provide a much-needed boost for both the construction sectors.
That said this has been in the pipeline for years at Lanseria and is 'nothing new' he said.
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Homeowners have been urged to test their security systems as a matter of urgency and to pay particular attention to the battery backup systems. The message comes from an armed response company, as South Africa finds itself in the midst of wide-spread load shedding once again.
“Many people are under the incorrect assumption that their home alarm system is deactivated when the power supply is interrupted. However, if you have a stable and correctly programmed system coupled with a battery that is in good condition, it will continue to protect the premises during a power outage - regardless if the outage is because of load shedding or not,” says Charnel Hattingh, national marketing and communications manager at Fidelity ADT.
The only time it may not function correctly is if there is a technical issue, or the battery power is low. “Most modern alarm systems have a back-up battery pack that activates automatically when there is a power failure,” she says.
She adds that there are a number of practical steps that can be taken to ensure security is not compromised during any power cuts.
Some of these include ensuring the alarm system has an adequate battery supply, that all automated gates and doors are secured and, lastly, to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to your security provider or the police.
With the added inconvenience of the lights going out at night due to power cuts, candles and touch-lights are handy alternatives. Hattingh says home and business owners should consider installing Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology, which is integrated into the alarm system’s wiring and automatically switches on for a maximum of 15 minutes when there is a power outage.
“If there is an additional battery pack, the small, non-intrusive LED lights can stay on for the duration of the power outage - or a maximum of 40 hours without draining the primary alarm battery,” she explains.
The most important tips to remember about being prepared for a power cut are:
1. Your alarm system must have an adequate battery supply. Batteries should be checked regularly.
2. Alarms should be checked during extended power outages to keep systems running.
3. Power cuts can impact on fire systems and fire control systems, so these must be checked regularly.
4. The more frequent use of gas and candles can increase the risk of fire and home fire extinguishers should be on hand.
5. Above all, remain vigilant during a power cut; be on the look-out for any suspicious activity and report this to your security company or SAPS immediately.
“Because of load shedding, there might also be a higher than usual number of alarm activation signals received by security companies and their monitoring centres,” says Hattingh.
“This could lead to a delay in monitoring centre agents making contact with customers. You can assist by manually cancelling any potential false alarms caused by load shedding, and thus help call centre agents in prioritising the calls needing urgent attention.”
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The turn of the decade presents some interesting opportunities within the South African housing market.
As it stands, house price growth is slow and economic threats are plenty. Yet, after reviewing internal sales figures for 2019 and other industry reports, experts believe that the 2020 real estate market will hold as many opportunities as it holds challenges.
The weight of these challenges will be shouldered mostly by sellers as we continue to experience a buyer’s market where supply outweighs demand. The opportunity for sellers lies in when they choose to list their home. If, for example, they choose to list shortly after the announcement that interest rates have dropped to 9.75% (prime), they could capitalise on the potential uptake in buyers who are incentivised to take on home loans while interest rates are low.
Buyers too might enjoy the opportunity of securing a good rate on their home loan if they apply now while interest rates are low. Alternatively, buyers can take this time to improve their credit record by using the money they save on interest charges to lower their debts.
Beyond this, buyers are encouraged to capitalise on the fact that house price growth has been slow. Buyers should purchase now before house prices begin to grow at more unaffordable rates.
As much as the current market favours buyers, certain realities could also be used to the advantage of sellers. For example, by installing eco-friendly alternative energy sources to their home, sellers can choose to turn the ongoing crisis around our national power supply into an opportunity to add value to their home.
In terms of the challenges that sellers might face, larger homes are taking considerably longer to sell than in the past. The luxury market will continue to feel the pinch within this tight economy and the majority of transactions will continue to fall within the affordable price ranges. Sellers within this price bracket are therefore advised to partner with an experienced real estate professional so that the probability of their selling at full value will improve.
Similarly, buyers will continue to feel the pressure of the struggling economy which could hurt their chances of qualifying for a home loan and securing the necessary funds to purchase a home.
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This is how much the average house costs in South Africa – and why banks will offer favourable home loans in 2020
Data from home loan comparison service, Ooba, shows minimal growth of 1.8% in the average house price year-on-year from Q4 2018 to Q4 2019.
The average purchase price of first-time buyers performed marginally better, up 2.5% for the same period.
“Local residential property prices have experienced four tough years of flat to negative real growth.
Property price growth in 2020 is expected to perform in line with 2019 levels,” said Rhys Dyer, CEO of Ooba. “We anticipate nominal growth in the average purchase price of between 3.5% and 4% for the year ahead, largely tracking inflation.”
Dyer said that prospects for the residential property market during 2020 will be directly influenced by the ability for SA Inc. to ramp up economic growth.
“This year presents a key fork in the road for the economy. A ratings downgrade seems increasingly possible, exacerbated by the ongoing challenges facing almost all State-Owned Enterprises, particularly Eskom. The economy needs urgent and decisive action from policymakers to ensure much-needed stronger economic growth.”
The average purchase price climbed to R1.208 million, from R1.188 million in December 2018, while the average purchase price for a first time buyer climbed to R958,546, from R934,916. Ooba noted that the average age of a bond applicant is 38, versus 35 for a first timer.
Looking ahead, Dyer expects that the four key drivers of performance in the 2020 residential property market will be softer interest rates, improved property affordability, the banks’ favourable lending appetite and consumer confidence.
“The decision by the Reserve Bank this month to cut interest rates by 25 basis points will assist home buyers to meet their home loan and other debt repayments and will generate much needed consumer relief, which hopefully translates into improved consumer confidence,” said Dyer.
“Currently inflation is well within the 3% to 6% target range and this, coupled with the recent Rand strength, we expect will result in the Reserve Bank dropping interest rates further during the course of 2020.”
Despite economic and political uncertainty, local banks remained confident about the residential property market during 2019. Buyers took advantage of reduced deposit requirements, higher approval rates, historically-low interest rates and improved lending conditions.
Home loan approval rates increased, with Ooba showing a 2.4% increase in it’s approval rate from 80.4% in Q4 2018 to 82.8% in Q4 2019. Over the same period, the average deposit as a percentage of purchase price fell to 10.9%, from 12.0% in Q4 2018.
Banks continue to compete for new customers by approving finance at good interest rates, Dyer said. Ooba’s statistics for Q4 2019 show that the average interest rate was 13 basis points lower year-on-year.
“We envisage that local banks will continue to offer favourable mortgage finance terms during 2020, similar to levels experienced in 2019,” said Dyer.
“Banks are also increasingly granting loans of 100% and more of the purchase price to all home-buyers, not just first-time buyers. This will have a positive effect on liquidity in the property market and will in particular encourage more first-time buyers to enter the market.”
Dyer believes first-time buyers will make up a greater portion of total homebuyers in 2020 as they take advantage of lower interest rates, availability of finance and relatively cheaper property prices. This will result in the lower end of the market performing better than the upper end.
The top end of the market will likely remain subdued until much better news on economic growth and consumer confidence comes through, which is unlikely to occur to any large degree during 2020, Ooba said.
Given the bumpy economic road ahead, it is advisable for property buyers to shop around for the most competitive home loan.
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South Africans enter 2020 with one of the best property buyer's markets in years - and the reasons to buy are compelling.
The residential property market in SA is currently oversupplied in most areas, meaning price growth is likely to remain flat in the 4% range at best.
Sellers would therefore need to keep their asking prices market-related or risk not attracting buyer interest.
Here are 6 reasons why 2020 is a great year to buy property:
Most areas are still overstocked, so there are still plenty of excellent buys in the market.
It's a buyer's market, meaning prospective buyers can negotiate strongly.
Sellers who have been holding out may be more ready to sell.
The flat interest rate and July rate cut has contributed to low borrowing costs and favourable mortgage lending conditions. Related to the above, banks are keen to lend, and first-time buyers are finding bonds of up to 105%.
Price growth has barely kept track with inflation and will likely remain flat for some time, which means buyers can find homes at "last year's prices". However, property does generally appreciate in value, meaning prospective homeowners can start small and renovate or customise to suit their needs.
Homeowners can earn income from their properties by house sharing or renting out a room, flat, or cottage, or even renting out the entire property, while still retaining the asset and benefiting from the potential capital growth.
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South Africa is currently in the midst of a buyers' market, creating an opportunity for first-time buyers to purchase property. On top of that, banks are extending the threshold of 100% loans to qualified buyers, and in some cases even 105% loans to cover the transfer costs and registration fees.
Before you begin the home buying process, you need to see if you can actually afford it. This will require doing a thorough audit of your finances to see what you can comfortably afford to spend on a house. As a home buyer, you also need to be prepared for the additional costs of a property purchase, as well as the ongoing costs of home ownership.
When you buy a home, the additional transaction costs - sometimes called the "hidden" costs - include property valuation, bond initiation, bond registration, legal and transfer fees, as well as transfer duty if you are buying a pre-owned property. If you buy a newly-built home you will avoid having to pay any duty because VAT will be built into the purchase price.
The extra transaction fees can add up to quite a significant amount, on top of the purchase price of your new home, and you will usually have to pay them in cash to the attorneys handling the registration of your new bond and the transfer of the property into your name.
For example, on a home costing R1.5m the total additional transaction fees would be almost R85 000 on top of any cash you might need to pay a deposit.
Once you have calculated all your monthly expenses to see what disposable income you can put towards paying off a home loan, you then need to figure out the price range you should be shopping in. If you're making an offer as a first-time home buyer, you need to do your homework before negotiating with the seller. Look at the location and size of the property, the current economic and market conditions as well as the prices of similar properties in the area. All these must be factored in when putting in your offer.
If you are using an estate agent, the agent will serve as the "middleman" and will present your offer to the seller. If a final price is agreed upon, you will complete the formal offer to purchase. Once you and the seller have signed the document, you are both legally bound by it.
After your finance has been approved and you have paid all costs to the transferring attorney, the transfer process will begin.
It is currently a property buyers' market, but it is essential to do your homework first so that buying your dream home doesn't turn into a financial nightmare.
The stagnant economy, slightly lower prime lending rate, and increased number of properties for sale in numerous locations are encouraging some potential buyers – who might have been sitting on the fence – to seriously explore the market.
Before signing on the dotted line, however, it’s important to inform yourself about the hidden expenses that come with buying a property.
Insurance (including homeowner's, life and household contents cover) tops the list, because it will help protect you should something unfortunate such as theft, fire, or major damage affect your house. Furthermore, every month you would need to pay for your water and electricity, plus rates and refuse removal.
Owning a home also requires regular check-ups and repairs, while installing a good security system is likely to be a key priority to keep you and your possessions safe.
If you're living in a sectional title estate, you may also be required to pay monthly levies for the upkeep and management of the communal property.
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Eskom is now rationing electricity at stage 6. Experts have warned that South Africa will struggle with electricity provision for many more years given a myriad of problems at the utility, including shoddy maintenance.
For those too frustrated to deal with that kind of pain, off-grid home solutions won't come cheap – but they are no longer entirely beyond the reach of an upper-middle-class family either. Business Insider South Africa approached various renewable energy solutions companies to see how much it would cost to go off the grid. Prices vary depending on what your electricity usage is, but for a standard four-person family home you could expect to pay around R200,000 – without taking government rebates into account.
According to Paul Lombard from energy solutions company Regenergy, a fundamental challenge to renewable energy has been the upfront costs. But these days, most companies offer monthly instalment plans to allow users to pay off the investment over anything up to 15 or even 25 years.
“Many customers feel that the pride and peace of mind of solar ‘pays for itself’ as soon as the system powers on, and they can remotely monitor and adjust their system on their smart phone app,” said Lombard.
These are the key components to move your house over to solar energy:
As a rough guide, a 1 kilowatt (kW) solar array takes up about 8m2 of space on your roof. This can produce about 3-5 kilowatts hours of energy (kWh) per day depending on the angle and direction the panels face. Solar panels are typically installed facing north in South Africa, in order to maximise exposure to the sun’s rays.
You will need to replace today's panels every 25 to 40 years.
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Key to going off the grid is a battery storage unit. Newer battery types have been able to push the limits to improve storage for longer periods as well as stand up to more recharges before running out of steam, two of the major problems with home installations to date.
“Lithium batteries need replacing every 8 to 10 years, especially in hotter parts of our country. Typical solar deep cycle batteries like lead, calcium or other AGM [absorbed glass mat] batteries only provide 1,500 to 2,500 recharges. These ‘old school’ batteries require replacing every 3 to 5 years,” said Lombard.
Inverter and/or charge controller
Batteries produce output power in direct current (DC) form, which can run at very low voltages but cannot be used to run most modern household appliances. Utility companies and generators produce sine wave alternating current (AC) power, which is used by most commonly available appliances today. Inverters take the DC power supplied by a storage battery bank and convert it to AC power. You can expect your inverter and/or charge controller to have 10 to 15 years of operation.
Three companies give cost estimates, based on some typical home installations.
The three companies that gave us broad-stroke proposals give some idea of the range you can expect to pay to take a home off the grid right now: between R150,000 and R350,000.
Here's what each of the three companies quoted.
2 person home using 15kWh/day - R152,000
4 person home using 25kWh/day - R270,600
5 person home using +35kWh/day – R359, 790
10kW (29 - 46kWh) average 4 bedroom home - R215,000
15kW (75kW) 5+ bedroom - R240, 000
10kW 2-4 bedroom home - R249,669 (excluding Vat)
15kW 5 + bedroom home - R349,669 (excluding Vat)
If you feel that a full off-the-grid solution is too much, there are also other options. Björn Potgieter of SolarConnect, says they can provide a grid back up system using solar electricity for R120,000 or for R49,500 a basic back up that excludes powering stove, geysers, air conditioning.
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