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Are you looking to get off grid systems from solar companies, but aren’t sure how to get solar as a renter in South Africa? Below, we discuss the energy crisis, the need for solar in South Africa households, how to get the lowest price on solar and overcome the list of barriers you may face as a renter.

Solar for Renters: A Viable Option for Clean Energy in South Africa

South Africa is facing an energy crisis, with frequent power outages and load shedding having a significant impact on the country’s economy and daily life. To mitigate the effects of prolonged power outages, many South Africans are turning to backup power supplies, such as generators, batteries, and renewable energy sources like solar panels. However, renters in South Africa must be aware of the legal and financial implications of installing backup power systems on rental properties.

Understanding South Africa’s Property Laws and Energy Independence

Tenants must be aware that any backup power system installed on the property, whether it be a generator, inverter, or solar system, will become the property of the landlord unless there is a prior written agreement signed by both parties stating that the tenant will remove the installation upon the termination of the lease agreement. This means that renters risk losing their investment in backup power systems if they fail to consider an addendum with the landlord.

To avoid ambiguity and unnecessary costs at a later stage, it is strongly recommended that an addendum be drawn up, allowing both parties to mutually agree on who is responsible for the costs of installing, maintaining, and insuring the backup power system, including who ultimately owns these fixtures. The addendum should also address issues such as maintenance, operating costs, and the party responsible for providing an electrical certificate of compliance with the installation, depending on which party is installing the system.

legal policy for getting solar power

Furthermore, if the landlord chooses to provide an alternative energy supply, the tenant can be made liable for their pro-rata use costs of the backup power system, including maintenance, insurance, compliance certificates, and fuel required to operate it. However, this condition must be included in the lease agreement or a signed addendum between the parties. 

Landlords are generally not permitted to pass on the expenses related to providing an alternative energy source to tenants, unless such costs are specifically outlined in the lease agreement or a separate addendum that has been duly signed by both parties. This means that the responsibility for providing basic utilities that are necessary for tenants to occupy a rental unit typically falls on the landlord.

So can I rent solar?

South Africa’s abundant sunshine and the increasing affordability of solar technology have made solar power an attractive option for homeowners looking to reduce their energy bills and environmental footprint. However, if you’re a renter, you might be wondering if it’s possible to harness the power of the sun while living in a property you don’t own. The good news is that, yes, you can still get solar in South Africa as a renter, and in this article, we’ll explore your options and shed light on the process.

In South Africa, a “Certificate of Compliance” (CoC) is a crucial document when renting a property, including when considering a solar power installation. This certificate is typically associated with the electrical system of a property and ensures that all electrical installations and connections meet the required safety and regulatory standards. When renting solar power systems, it’s essential for both landlords and tenants to ensure that the solar installation complies with local electrical regulations and that a valid CoC is obtained. This certificate assures that the solar power system is installed correctly, is safe to use, and won’t pose any electrical hazards, providing peace of mind to both parties involved in the rental agreement. It’s a vital step to ensure the efficient and safe operation of solar power in rented properties across South Africa.

  1. Portable Solar Solutions:

    One of the easiest ways for renters to embrace solar power is by using portable solar solutions. These typically come in the form of portable solar panels and solar-powered generators. You can place these devices on a balcony, patio, or any sunny spot on your rented property. They are perfect for charging small electronics, running lights, or even powering a mini-fridge.

  2. Solar Leasing:

    Some solar companies in South Africa offer solar leasing or power purchase agreements (PPAs). In these arrangements, the solar company installs and maintains solar panels on your rented property, and you agree to purchase the electricity generated from those panels at a reduced rate compared to traditional utility rates. While you won’t own the solar panels, you’ll still benefit from lower energy costs.

  3. Community Solar Programs:

    In some areas, community solar programs allow renters and homeowners to invest in shared solar installations. You can purchase a share in a local solar project and receive credits on your electricity bill for the power generated by your share of the system. This approach allows renters to support renewable energy without installing solar panels on their rented property.

  4. Negotiating with Your Landlord:

    If you have a good relationship with your landlord, you can discuss the possibility of installing solar panels on the property. Some landlords may be open to the idea, especially if it adds value to their property. In such cases, you could offer to cover the installation costs in exchange for reduced rent or a share of the energy savings.

  5. Solar-Ready Rentals:

    When looking for a rental property, consider ones that are “solar-ready.” These properties are pre-equipped with the necessary wiring and infrastructure to easily add solar panels in the future. While this won’t provide immediate solar benefits, it sets the stage for a smoother transition to solar power when you decide to invest.

  6. Advantages of Going Solar as a Renter:

    • Reduced electricity bills, leading to potential cost savings.
    • Contribution to a cleaner environment by using renewable energy.
    • Increased property value if you negotiate solar installation with your landlord.
    • Enhanced energy independence and resilience in case of power outages.

Is Solar for Renters a Viable Option for an Alternative Source of Energy?

Despite the legal and financial barriers, solar energy is a viable option for renters in South Africa. Solar power systems not only reduce electricity bills but also provide clean energy, contributing to renewable energy generation and reducing the demand for grid power.

Renters can opt for portable solar systems or solar panel systems installed on the property’s roof, depending on their energy usage and the upfront costs they are willing to pay. Your energy demand can also determine the solar system size you may want to get. You can talk to our experts today to find a solution that suits your needs.

Why Property and Apartment Owners Should Consider Getting Solar for their Investment Properties

Solar energy can also increase property values, making it a desirable option for property owners and apartment owners. The Northern Cape in South Africa has the highest solar irradiation levels, making it a prime location for solar projects. Furthermore, LED bulbs can be used in conjunction with solar energy to increase energy efficiency and reduce hidden costs.

Investing in a solar power system can lead to significant electricity bill savings over time, making it a sound investment for homeowners and property investors.

benefits of solar energy to family

Benefits of Getting Solar as a Renter or Rental Property Owner

1. Load Shedding Backup

Load shedding is a common occurrence in South Africa, and it can last for hours at a time. During these periods, tenants with solar power systems can use their stored solar energy to power their homes, avoiding the inconvenience and cost of using backup power sources like generators. Now, renters can also enjoy this benefit, as long as they have a system that can store excess energy for later use.

2. Solar is Getting Cheaper

In recent years, the cost of solar power systems has decreased significantly, making it more accessible to renters and property owners alike. Additionally, there are various financing options available to help spread the upfront costs over time, such as solar loans and leasing programs.

3. Better for the Environment

By using solar power, renters can contribute to reducing their carbon footprint and help combat climate change. Using clean, renewable energy sources like solar can help to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, which are a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions.

4. Increase Property Value

Installing a solar power system can increase the value of a property, making it more attractive to potential buyers or renters. According to a study conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, homes with solar power systems sell for up to 4.1% more than homes without solar in the United States.

There is limited research on the impact of solar power systems on property values in South Africa. However, a study by the University of Cape Town’s Energy Research Centre found that homes with solar water heaters have a higher market value than those without. The study found that a solar water heater can increase a home’s market value by up to 4.4% compared to a home without one.

While this study specifically looked at solar water heaters, it is possible that solar power systems, in general, could have a similar effect on property values in South Africa. As renewable energy becomes increasingly important in the country’s energy mix, it is likely that homes with solar power systems will become more desirable and valuable to potential buyers.

5. Government Incentives

The South African government offers various incentives for homeowners and property owners who install solar power systems, such as tax rebates and feed-in tariffs. These incentives can help to offset the upfront costs of installing a solar power system and make it a more financially viable option.


Virtual Sense is committed to providing South Africans with clean power solutions, and we offer a range of solar systems tailored to meet your energy needs. Contact us today to learn more about how you can benefit from solar energy and take the first step towards electricity independence.

Virtual Sense Power supplies inverters, batteries and solar panels in the following areas - Helderberg, Somerset West, Stand and Gordons Bay