solar panel prices

Solar Panel Prices in South Africa

Solar panels have been rapidly gaining traction in South Africa as an effective alternative energy solution, particularly in the wake of frequent load-shedding by Eskom. To make a well-informed decision about investing in solar panels for your home, it’s crucial to understand the elements affecting the cost of solar panels.

Solar Panels are becoming more accessible

Despite the initial investment, solar panel prices are becoming increasingly affordable due in large part to the growth of the industry. Moreover, various solar rent to own and financing options are now available that have significantly subsidised the cost of solar panel installation for homeowners.

Factors such as the kind of solar panels you choose, your home’s roof shape and size, and the size of the system will, however, have a substantial influence on the overall cost. In this article, we’ll cover the basics and what you need to consider to bring solar power to your home. 

Key Points

  • Prices range from R2,600 for a 360W panel from Canadian Solar all the way up to R4800 for a 610W Jinko Tiger Neo panel.
  • The number of panels you require depends on how you spec your solar power system. Grid-tied vs Grid-tied and energy storage vs Off-grid.
  • Looking at Cost-per-watt is the first element to consider when evaluating solar panels. After which you should consider the warranty period and support in South Africa.

What type of Solar System do you require?

Your choice of solar panels will significantly impact the cost. Options such as grid-tied, grid-tied solar with energy storage, and off-grid solar will vary in cost. Selecting the optimal solar panels for your home will depend on both your objectives and budget.

  • Grid-tied: This is ideal if you’re connected to the utility grid and your primary objective is to reduce your electricity bill.
  • Grid-tied solar and energy storage: If you’re connected to the utility grid and want a backup power source during load shedding, this is the best choice.
  • Off-grid: This is perfect for those living in areas where the utility grid is inaccessible.

Consider price once you’ve identified your requirements

Choosing a grid-tied system could significantly lower the cost of solar panels if you’re connected to the grid, as you don’t need to install extra solar panel capacity for those few occasional periods in the month or year when you need more electricity than your solar panels can provide.

With an off-grid system, you’ll need to purchase a solar battery. Depending on your energy requirement, this can account for well over half to three-quarters of the  cost of an off-grid solar system.

While we suggest opting for a grid-tied system where feasible, off-grid solar can be a cost-effective long-term solution if you wish to cut your reliance on the utility grid, especially given the frequent load shedding in South Africa.

The Cost-Per-Watt of Solar Panels

Solar panels come in a wide variety of sizes, from small 5W panels to larger, premium 600W+ panels. Considering the cost-per-watt will help you compare the value-for-money offered by different panels. Although the lowest cost-per-Watt options deliver the most power output for your Rand, they may require more space to install and come with a shorter warranty period.

Below is a screenshot of panels from the same manufacturer on an online retailer’s website called Sustainable. Simply by dividing the cost of the panel by the Watts, you arrive at a cost-per-Watt. You’ll see the calculation made in the table that follows. Just note that the 545W solar panel is much larger, and your roof dimensions start to become a consideration.

solar panel prices

The point above is that even among the same brand, it can be difficult to choose the right solar panels because the pricing, as determined by the cost-per-watt, may be very similar. 

Solar Panel Model Solar Panel Price Solar Panel Watts Cost-per-Watt Panel Dimensions
Canadian Solar HiKu 380W R3,229 380W R8.49 1765 mm x 1048 mm
Canadian Solar HiKu 375W  R3,338 375W R8.90 1765 mm x 1048 mm
Canadian Solar HiKu 545W  R4,712 545W R8.65 2261 mm x 1134 mm
Canadian Solar HiKu 370W R3,112 370W R8.41 1765 mm x 1048 mm

When we start to look across different brands of solar panels, the cost-per-watt has a greater difference. See below:


Solar Panel Model Solar Panel Price Solar Panel Watts Cost-per-Watt Solar Panel Dimensions Warranty Retailer
JA Solar 545W Mono Percium Half-cell R4,312 545W R7.91 2279 mm x 1134 mm 15yrs Sustainable
Jinko Solar 475W Tiger Mono-facial R3,386 475W R7.12 2182 mm x 1029 mm 12yrs SolarHub
Canadian Solar HiKu 545W R4,712 545W R8.65 2261 mm x 1134 mm 15yrs Sustainable
Seraphim 460 Watt Mono R2,856 370W R7.72 1909 mm x 1134 mm 15yrs JC Solar Panels

In theory, cost-per-watt is directly related to the quality of the materials used. The efficiency of the solar panels goes up, and so do the warranty and useful life of the solar panels.

Price vs Lifespan

Although modern solar panels have warranties of 10 – 15 years and more, it does not necessarily mean that your solar panels will cease to function at that point. In theory, high-quality panels may continue operating for 30 to 40 years. However, the same cannot be said for cheaper panels.

The issue with inexpensive solar panels is quite straightforward: they are manufactured at a low cost. For example, the type of glue used by cheaper brands may be of inferior quality, leading to a problem known as delamination. Delamination occurs when the bond between the glass and plastic layers of a solar panel begins to deteriorate, causing them to separate gradually. This creates space for moisture to seep in, resulting in corrosion and eventual system failure.

Furthermore, these budget solar panels do not withstand adverse weather conditions well. If your area experiences scorching hot summers, severe hailstorms, or freezing winters, these conditions can cause tiny cracks to form on the panel surface. Each of these micro-cracks reduces the efficiency of your solar system, turning your aspiration of a solar-powered home into something more elusive.

What about Efficiency?

Our advice here is to not fuss with efficiency too much. Focus on Cost-per-watt rather. That being said, in the current market, solar panels with an efficiency rating exceeding 20% is considered great. On the other hand, anything below 20% is considered mediocre.

Recommended Solar Panel manufacturers

The below is correct as of mid-2023. Keep in mind that the higher the wattage of each panel, the fewer panels you require.

  1. Canadian Solar: Prices range from R2,300 to R6,000 per panel (270W – 650W)
  2. JA Solar: Prices range from R2,300 to R4,800 per panel (275W – 595W)
  3. Jinko Solar: Prices range from R2,200 to R4,400 per panel (275W – 575W)
  4. Seraphim Solar: Prices range from R2,300 to R4,200 per panel (275W – 550W)

Need more detailed information on the best solar panels to choose in South Africa? Read our article.

Need to know how many solar panels you need for your solar power system? Read our article.

Final thoughts

No matter which brand you choose, we recommend using a qualified professional installer to ensure that your solar panels and all their additional parts are properly installed and maintained. We also suggest exploring rent to own and financing options, as this can help make it easier to afford a high-quality solar system.

When it comes to choosing the best solar panels in South Africa, you should always consider quality over price. Cost-per-watt is your number one tool to start your solar panel evaluation with. Investing in a higher-quality panel will pay off in the long run with better efficiency and longevity.