South Africa: Going Solar - Sorry Tim, Our Kodak Batteries Are Much Smarter These Days


Going solar in 2021 is a lot easier now that the technology is commoditised and the installation is seamless.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

"The problem is the batteries are stupid," a close friend told me 12 years ago about his then unusual decision to live off the grid, powered by solar. He would later write up his experience for Daily Maverick in what became the most quoted article on going solar for nearly a decade with what must go down as one of the greatest intros:

"The salesman at the solar power shop told me: 'You have no idea how stupid batteries are.' That comment made me wonder about his intelligence, so it took me some time to realise the canny wisdom of this apparently dim statement," wrote Tim Cohen, who never intended to be a solar pioneer but moved to a Karoo farm where Eskom was "not economically viable".

When Tim installed solar, the only available batteries were deep-cycle tractor batteries - about 20 of which took up the entire floor of an outside storeroom.

"The intelligence of batteries has been one of the surprising, not to mention irritating, things about living without Eskom...

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