Business Maverick

PERSONAL FINANCE

Four ways to fund your solar power solution

Four ways to fund your solar power solution
(Photo: Unsplash / Bill Mead)

The government’s recent announcement of a solar power tax incentive, coupled with the fact that rolling blackouts are unlikely to end any time soon, is set to propel solar power sales. However, these solutions are by no means cheap.

The banks all agree that there are four ways to fund your solar installation:

A personal loan

This is probably the least attractive option given that personal loans carry high interest rates. Under the National Credit Act, the maximum interest rate on personal loans (unsecured credit) is 28.25% a year. The remaining three options involve the use of your home loan facility. The maximum interest rate on home loans is currently 19.25%.

These interest rate caps change every time the repo rate changes, and we are currently in a rising interest rate cycle.

An access bond

This applies if you have extra funds that you have paid into your home loan, over and above the required monthly instalment. Not all home loans include this facility, so you need to check with your bank first.

A re-advance loan

This is where you have an existing home loan with the bank and you want to apply for the funds you have already paid into the home loan – the difference between your original loan amount and the outstanding balance. For example, your initial loan was R2.5-million and the outstanding balance is now R1.9-million, so you want to access the R600,000 you paid in.

You may also have registered a higher amount than the actual loan when you made the initial loan application, and you could apply for the difference in the form of a re-advance. For example, you registered a loan of R3-million but then only took out a home loan for R2.5-million and you now want to access the remaining R500,000.

A further loan

This means increasing your current home loan, provided there is sufficient equity in your property. You will have to pay a registration cost for this and, depending on your credit profile, the bank may change the interest rate you pay.

How much you can expect to pay 

  • Standard Bank’s head of home services, Toni Anderson, says launching the initial offering as early as 2022 with private banking clients, the average cost of installations has been around R176,000. In July last year, Standard Bank launched a website – https://www.looksee.co.za/property/solarscore – where you can input your address to determine how viable a solar solution will be, based on your location, roof size and weather in your area. Unfortunately for me, the Saldanha Bay municipality area is not yet covered. Using a friend’s address in Newlands, Cape Town, had better results. The property, which lies in the shadow of Table Mountain, scored a low 30 out of 100 because the amount of electricity that could be generated from sunlight was low. Reasons provided by the site included a lack of sufficient sunlight and the roof being at a poor angle to the sun. LookSee estimates that solar panels could be installed on 108m² of the roof and the maximum installation would yield 71kwh of energy per day.
  • Absa offers a load shedding solutions finance calculator. I input a monthly electricity bill of R1,400 and said I want to go off the grid completely, funding the solution by transferring my home loan to Absa. The calculator kicked up a total system and installation cost of R105,921, with a monthly repayment of R2,951 over a four-year repayment period at 12.75% interest (prime plus 2%).
  • Nedbank offers three solutions for three scenarios, assuming your monthly electricity cost is R1,400 for 960kWh of power.
    • A grid-tied solution using six panels and an inverter: R55,000 to R60,000.
    • A hybrid solution with eight solar panels and two batteries: R115,000 to R120,000.
    • A totally off-grid solution with 14 solar panels and nine batteries: Almost R250,000.
  • FNB was a bit late to the party, and only went live with a solar energy home loan offering in December 2022. However, they are currently running a special with LTM Energy, where FNB clients can get 10% off a green solutions solar package. You can work out your needs using this energy calculator. I did not like that I had to enter all my contact details before it produced a calculation, as it seemed like a sneaky way to get my details for marketing purposes. Using a monthly electricity cost of R1,400, the system came up with two solar PV solutions at a cost of R107,800 or R146,300. BM/DM

After this article was first published in the Money Cents newsletter, we received reader feedback. While some felt the estimates were understated, a few were astonished at how high the estimates were, and a third cohort said they were relieved to see the quotes they had received were “in the ballpark”. There are a number of variables including the size of your home, how much electricity you use and how much you are willing to spend.

If you have feedback on how your solar solution and costs compare to those in this article, please mail [email protected] as we plan to write a follow-up article.

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Pam Nel says:

    Sorry I can’t pay more per month. I love Daily Maverick and read it voraciously every day. Can’t I be a copy writer for you? I am well travelled, well educated and well read!

  • brian.lagrange says:

    Load shedding 8.15 to 11.00 average per day. Please the TRUTH!!!

  • Elizabeth Pearson says:

    The banks won’t lend pensioners anything – unfortunately we’re too old.

  • Rob Wilson says:

    To me, borrowing is linked either to absolute necessity (and this may be yours) or to leverage a return. I cannot leverage a competitive return for my own home using solar generation. It takes 8 to 10 years to break even if things go well. So I do what I need to survive with inverters and batteries, a generator and Eskom as my normal charging supplier. It is most certainly not saving the planet either.

  • Terry Reynolds says:

    Why has the lease-to-own option not been mentioned?
    I cannot put links in the reply but for those interested, go to mg(dot)co(dot) za and add the following to the end when you get there: /environment/2023-02-23-how-to-rent-to-own-a-solar/

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