Are Batteries Sexy?

What is possibly worse than load shedding is scheduled load shedding that doesn’t happen. We were told by our favourite loadshedding app that there was to be a long loadshed last night, and we as a family prepared. We fed the kids early, got everyone’s teeth brushed and off to bed, and got ourselves into bed by 8pm with our charged iPads, ready to read a digitized book or some magazines. By 8:30 pm we realized that the scheduled loadshedding wasn’t going to happen, but it was a freezing night, my wife and I both found ourselves a little drowsy in the warm and comfy bed, and my third attempt at reading War and Peace soon put me to sleep.


It’s cool falling asleep at 8:30 as we are always tired at the moment, as anyone with two small kids would attest to. Sleep is golden. The problem is that our bodies soon get accustomed to whatever we are giving them, and if we are only allowing our bodies 7 hours sleep, they’ll wake up after those 7 hours. I woke up at 3:30 am. Wide awake. No turning round. As I stared at the darkness I realized that it isn’t only the fact that we want a back up system to work whenever we have load shedding, we actually want piece of mind more than anything else.

It’s sometimes very stressful getting unscheduled loadshedding, and it can be stressful even if we know about it but life circumstances prevents us from being in the right place at the right time. It’s not a good feeling when the wife is at home at night with no power and with the two kids, while I am at an opening function or press conference or some other such meeting. It’s unsettling. We all need peace of mind. It’s good for the soul.

There was more talk in the media of the Tesla Powerwall, but there was also a lot more talk about the dwindling power of the Rand. The Tesla Powerwall comes in two sizes – the 7kWh unit and the 10kWh unit. With our busy family and all sorts of power needs, we were always going to need the 10kWh unit. The Tesla price of $3,500 excluding installation comes in at a cool R43,000. The thing is, we always have to deal with the two certainties in life of death and taxes. SARS has got our number, and in this case it’s a 30% import tax on batteries.


Boom! That R43,000 suddenly jumps up to R56,000 – before installation. Then, without going into it to deeply, there will be transportation costs, installation costs and profit margins for the dealers. The Tesla Powerwall is also designed to consume solar power generation. So that means that you need to purchase some solar panels. These can be up to R5k each, and a decent system would need to start off with two such panels.

A little bit more homework will show that the Tesla Powerwall is simply a lithium-ion battery. These are readily available in South Africa, but universally not cheap. So what is it about the Powerwall that has everyone jumping up and down? It’s expensive and it comes in different colours and therein lies the rub.

The Powerwall is marketed as sexy. It’s the iPhone of backup batteries. It is set to become a fashionable accessory for the household, much like an expensive wrap TV or a giant, crystal-clear sound system loaded all around your double story house and deck. alongside the pool.

We didn’t need this. We needed electricity when there was none. It really is as simple as that.