Is taking your home off the grid worth it?

taking your home off grid

In the face of daily power cuts, water scarcity challenges, and soaring utility costs, many South Africans are exploring innovative ways to liberate their homes from traditional utility dependence. The concept of taking your home off the grid, once considered niche, is gaining momentum as a practical solution to a new era of self-sufficiency and environmentally sustainable infrastructure. Home and business owners can break free from reliance on the national grid by tapping into renewable energy and water sources, such as solar power, boreholes, and purification units.

The typical South Africans’ potential to embrace off-grid living lies in our resourcefulness and adaptability. We’re not the type to just sit back and let things happen – instead, we roll up our sleeves and find ways to make things work, especially when it comes to creating our own solutions. So….

How to take your house off the grid?

Discovering the path to living off-grid in South Africa revolves around two key aspects: disconnecting from the electrical grid, and finding alternative sources of water. Let’s explore the options…

Solar Power

The first step towards off-grid living in South Africa usually begins with electricity. With ample sunshine throughout the year, solar power emerges as a popular and practical option for many South African homeowners. Solar power systems comprise solar panels, inverters, and batteries to store excess energy for later use. You can start small with a solar water heater for geysers or go big by outfitting your entire home with solar panels.

In South Africa, solar panels are commonly installed on north-facing pitched roofs to optimise sun exposure. Modern panels have a lifespan of 25 to 40 years which increases the reliability and durability of solar power.

Depending on the size of your home and your unique requirements, the total cost for a renewable energy system with battery, inverter, and panels could set you back around R140,000. While the upfront expense might appear hefty, did you know that the government offers incentives for your solar investment? You can claim a 25% rebate on the cost of your solar panels! Plus, the substantial long-term savings on your electricity bills make it a truly worthwhile investment.

When considering setting up a solar power system, involving a professional is a good idea. The process can be a bit complex, but having an expert on board will help manage time efficiently and save you money on unnecessary costs or losses.

Gas is another alternative power source to consider when taking your home off the grid, and complementing gas energy with solar power can enhance your off-grid experience. Gas-powered appliances, such as stoves, heaters, and water heaters, provide a more reliable and stable source of energy than electricity, and it is typically cheaper, especially during times of high demand when the price of electricity tends to increase.

This means that when you switch to gas you can potentially save money on your energy bills and cook your favourite meals, without any concerns about Eskom’s daily disruptions.

When it comes to water, going off the grid in South Africa involves implementing sustainable solutions for sourcing and managing this precious resource. Here are some key methods:

  • Borehole Water

    In areas where groundwater is accessible, drilling a borehole can provide a reliable source of water for your household. Boreholes tap into underground aquifers, offering a sustainable alternative to relying solely on municipal water supplies, in turn saving you income from water bills. However, though it's worth the investment, it is crucial to factor in additional costs for pump installation, water quality testing, and routine maintenance to ensure the longevity of your borehole. If your borehole water isn’t potable, you may also need to install a purification system.

  • Rainwater Harvesting

    South Africa experiences periodic rainfall, which can be collected and stored for various household uses. Rainwater harvesting involves installing a system to capture rainwater from your rooftops and directing it into storage tanks. This harvested water can then be filtered and used for activities such as watering your garden, toilet flushing, and laundry.

  • Greywater Recycling

    Greywater refers to wastewater generated from activities like bathing, laundry, and dishwashing. Instead of letting this water go to waste, greywater recycling systems treat and filter it for reuse in irrigation for plants or flushing toilets. This approach not only conserves water but also reduces the strain on municipal sewage systems. Greywater recycling systems can be integrated into new construction or retrofitted into your existing homes, offering a sustainable solution for your water management and going one step further in taking your home off the grid.

Counting the Cost

Choosing to take your home off the grid may have a high initial cost, but it offers long-term savings and positive environmental impacts.

Initial Investment

The initial cost of installing solar panels, boreholes, rainwater harvesting systems, and other off-grid infrastructure can be quite large. However, it’s important to view this as a long-term investment that will result in significant savings on utility bills and contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle over time.

At the time of publishing this article (March 2024) a 25% government rebate on alternative energy systems makes living off-grid easier and more accessible – and that’s not to mention various financing solutions. Multiple banks in South Africa have teamed up with renewable and backup energy providers to offer special discounts to their customers. In tandem with this, and for the time being, FNB has negotiated a 10% discount on the retail price of energy-saving solutions for FNB and RMB Private Bank customers, and Standard Bank offers customers a range of energy solutions as well as financing options through their website


Off-grid systems require regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance and longevity. This includes cleaning solar panels, servicing gas appliances, inspecting boreholes, and maintaining water storage tanks. While maintenance costs may vary depending on the type and size of the system, they are essential for maximising the lifespan of your off-grid infrastructure.

Taking your home off the grid is not a DIY project

The installation of any off-grid system can be exciting, but it can also be inconvenient and costly if not done properly. If you’re ready to be liberated from your load-shedding and water supply woes, it’s essential to hire professional installers to implement and maintain the project for you!

Are you interested in renovating your home to incorporate solar power, gas appliances, boreholes, rainwater harvesting, greywater recycling, or any other sustainable solutions into your property – or planning to build a new sustainable home? Contact our home renovations experts for personalised guidance throughout the process, and we’ll work with you to create a tailored solution that meets your specific needs.