Bye-bye ZESA, partial to fully off-grid solar prices in Zimbabwe

Valentine Muhamba Avatar
Solar panels, ZESA net metering, Zimbabwe, off-grid

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) has a large role to play in the economy because without electricity a number of things that we use can’t function especially in the digital age. Over the last couple of decades, ZESA has fallen short of the power demand, so much so that Zimbabweans have adopted alternative energy solutions in order to do business as well as enjoy life at home. One of these solutions is solar which for some is almost a necessity, what with the faults due to aged equipment, vandalism and the aforementioned shortfall in power supply. So we took a field trip to solar distributors in Harare to see what it actually costs to go partially or fully off-grid.

But before we get into what it costs… What is a solar system anyway?

Basic anatomy of a solar system

I know that I am preaching to the choir here because many of you might already have a solar system at home. However, for those of us who knew what it was but not the components involved, here is what makes up a general installation.

  • Solar panel – responsible for harnessing the solar energy and converting it to electrical energy.
  • Charge controller – is a device that controls the rate at which the electric current is added or take from the batteries to protect them from overload, overcharging, and may protect against overvoltage.
  • Battery – stores the electrical energy that is harnessed by the solar panels to be used by your appliances and devices.
  • Inverter – a solar (photovoltaic) inverter is a device that converts variable direct current (VDC) output of a photovoltaic solar panel into a utility frequency alternating current (AC) is used by your appliances and devices and can also be fed into commercial electrical grid or used by a local, off-grid electrical network.

To join all of these things together one would need cables to carry the current, ways to fix the solar in place and protect them from thieves as well as bolts, clips, clamps, circuit breakers and other bits and bobs.

How much energy does the average home use?

The average 3 bedroom home consumes about 7.5kVa to run all its electrical bits. This figure is excluding power-heavy appliances like electric geysers and a stove. So, as I am sure you may have noticed from that neighbour of yours who has a modest solar installation that they might also have a solar geyser. And if you have ventured into their home you would also see a gas stove which they use instead of an electric one.

Homes like these might only need a 5kVa system so they do all they can to make sure that those power-hungry appliances are replaced with ones that don’t draw from their precious solar reserves.

How much does a partial or fully off-grid solar system cost in Zimbabwe?

On our little field trip, we visited One Stop Solar, Nations Hardware, Samansco, and Mwenje Solar. We asked them about the popular 5KVA system as well as the 10kVa package and what we got is a general shopping list you’ll need to get a solar system within those ratings.

These packages might not necessarily apply to you because everyone’s home has different appliances and varying loads. In fact, the technicians and attendants will ask you to give as much detail about your particular situation and your budget. For the purposes of just finding out the prices for a general recommendation, we asked about what would be sufficient for a 5KVA and 10KVA installation. If you want to find out the power consumption of your appliances you can check the user manual or the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority’s (ZERA) energy consumption calculator (link here)

Now, in situations like these, Zimbos tend to use the price of a Honda Fit as a unit of measurement and with the prices below yes that might apply. However, the stores will tailor an installation that fits your budget as well as your particular use case… They can scale the products on offer to whatever you are prepared to pay at that point in time. And from what we are told they can also help you with warranties on top of scaling your installation.

So to reiterate these prices aren’t universal but are what you’ll get if you ask for a general 5KVA or 10KVA installation costs.

Nations Hardware solar products

5KVA solar kits

Phocos 5kva Inverter W/MPPT @ US$1,050.00 (1) – US$1,050.00
Pylontech Battery Cable Kit @ US$30.00 (1) – US$30.00
Pylontech Lit Battery 3.5w 48v @ US$1,450.00 (1) -US$1,450.00
Canadian Solar Panel 340W @ US$145.00 (6) – US$ 870.00
Solar Rail 6.2m KIT @ US$165.00 (1) – US$165.00
Sub Total – US$3,011.93
VAT – US$553.07
Total US$3,565.00
Pylontech Battery Cable Kit @ US$30.00 (1) – US$30.00
Pylontech Li Battery 3.5w 48v @ US$1,450.00 (2) – US$ $2,900.00
Canadian Solar Panel 340W @ US$145.00 (8) – US$1,160.00
Solar Rail 6.2m KIT @ US$165.00 (2) – US$330.00
Victron MPPT250/100-MC4 SS @ US$899.00 (1) – US$899.00
Victron Venus GX Controller @ US$290.00 (1) – US$290.00
VICTRON GX TOUCH @ US$230.00 (1) – US$230.00
Victron GX Touch 50 Bracket @ US$20.00 – US$20.00
Sub Total – US$6,451.42
VAT – US$1,282.28
Total – US$7,734.00

Contact details:

  • 0773441788
  • email –

10KVA solar kit prices

Phocos Victron
Phocos 5kva Inverter W/MPPT @ US$1,050.00 (2) – US$2,100.00
Pylontech Battery Cable Kit @ US$30.00 (1) – US$30.00
Pylontech Lit Battery 3.5w 48v @ US$1,450.00 (3) -US$4,350.00
Canadian Solar Panel 340W @ US$145.00 (12) – US$1,740.00
Solar Rail 6.2m KIT @ US$165.00 (2) – US$330.00
Sub Total – US$7,267.04
VAT – US$1,285.96
Total US$8,550.00
Pylontech Battery Cable Kit @ US$30.00 (1) – US$30.00
Pylontech Lit Battery 3.5w 48v @ US$1,450.00 (3) – US$ $4,350.00
Canadian Solar Panel 340W @ US$145.00 (12) – US$1,740.00
Solar Rail 6.2m KIT @ US$165.00 (2) – US$330.00
Victron MPPT250/100-MC4 SS @ US$899.00 (1) – US$899.00
Victron Venus GX Controller @ US$290.00 (1) – US$290.00
VICTRON GX TOUCH @ US$230.00 (1) – US$230.00
Victron GX Touch 50 Bracket @ US$20.00 (1) – US$20.00
Sub Total – US$10,032.69
VAT – US$1,656.31
Total – US$11,689.00

Mwenje Solar products

5KVA 48V SineWave inverter @ US$650.00 (1) – US$650.00
100AH 48V Huawei/Narada/Leooch Lithium Batteries @ US$1,350.00 (1) – US$1,350.00
415W 24V Jinko/ Solarcom/Canadian/ Trina Solar Panels @ US$180.00 (4) – US$720.00
Installation Kit & anti-theft @ US$200 – US$240.00 (1) – US$240.00
Earth and Surge Protector Kit @ US$95.00 (1) – US$95.00
Solar Flex Cable @ US$95.00 (1) – US$95.00
Installation fee (HRE) @ US$90.00 (1) – US$90.00

Total – US$3,440.00
10KVA 48V SineWave inverter @ US$2,400.00 (1) – US$2,400.00
100AH 48V Huawei/Narada/Leooch Lithium Batteries @ US$1,350.00 (4) – US$5,400.00
415W 24V Jinko/Solarcom/Canadian/ Trina Solar Panels @ US$180.00 (18) – US$3,240.00
Installation Kit & anti-theft @ US$200 – US$240.00 (1) – US$240.00
Installation Kit changeover, hub, breakers, DB, Powermatic @ US$650.00 (1) – US$650.00
Earth and Surge Protector Kit @ US$95.00 (1) – US$95.00
Solar Flex Cable @ US$200.00 (1) – US$200.00
Connection Hub @ US$450.00 (1) – US$450.00
Installation fee (HRE) @ US$90.00 (1) – US$90.00

Total – US$13,290.69

Contact details

  • (+263) 078 050 0500, 078 030 030

One Stop Solar

Victron 5KVA Victron 10KVA
Multiplus 48 V 5KVA @ US$1,972.00 (1) – US$1,972.00
SmartSolar MPPT 150/100A @ US$809.48 (1) – US$809.48
Color Control GX @ US$704.52 (1) – US$704.52
Enclosure for Color Control GX @ US$54.97 (1) – US$54.97
Longi 360W Mono Solar Panels @ US152.03 (12) – US$1,824.42
Solar Rack @ US$34.58 (4) – US$138.32
Anti theft powersnap clip @ US$1.74 – (48) US$83.61
Direct Cable 1.8M @ US$18.26 (1) – US$18.26
CCGX WiFI Dongle Long Range @ US$66.90 (1) – US$66.90
Citel AC Surge Protector @ US$61.56 (1) – US$61.56
Citel PV Surge Protector @ US$134.93 (1) – US$134.93
BYD 48V 5kWh Battery @ US$1,456.00 (2) – US$2,913.00
BYD Battery-Box @ US$170.27 (1) – US$170.27
Balance of System @ US$1,500.00 (1) – US$1,500.00

Sub Total – US$10,489.11
VAT – US1,520.00
Total – US$12,010.03
VE Quattreo 48V @ US$3,226.26 (1) – US$3,226.26
SmartSolar MPPT 250/100A @ US$909.89 (2) – US$1,819.77
Color Control GX @ US$704.52 (1) – US$704.52
Enclosure for Color Control GX @ US$54.97 (1) – US$54.97
Longi 360W Mono Solar Panels @ US152.03 (24) – US$3,648.83
Solar Rack @ US$34.58 (8) – US$276.65
Anti theft powersnap clip @ US$1.74 – (96) US$167.22
Direct Cable 1.8M @ US$18.26 (1) – US$36.21
CCGX WiFI Dongle Long Range @ US$66.90 (1) – US$66.90
Citel AC Surge Protector @ US$61.56 (1) – US$61.56
Citel PV Surge Protector @ US$134.93 (2) – US$269.86
BYD 48V 5kWh Battery @ US$1,456.00 (4) – US$5,826.40
BYD Battery-Box @ US$170.27 (1) – US$170.27
Balance of System @ US$1,500.00 (2) – US$3,000.00

Sub Total – US$19,365
VAT – US2,808.03
Total – US$22,173.75

Contact Details


Rebel 5KVA Hybrid Inverter @ US$750.00 (1) – US$750.00
Pylontech Li Battery @ US$1,450.00 (2) – US$ 2,900.00
455W Trina Solar Panels @ US$205.00 (6) US$1,230.00
Solar rail @ US$25.00 (4) – US$100.00
Premium End Clamp @ US$1.00 – US$4.00
Inter Camp @ US$1.00 (10) – US$10.00
Roof Hooks @ US$10.00 (12) – US$120.00
30A Surge Protector @ US$70.00 (1) – US$70.00
SPD 500V Surge Protector @ US$40.00 (1) – US$40.00
32A Surge Protect MCB @ US$5.00 (1) – US$5.00
16A Surge Protect MCB @ US$5.00 (1) – US$5.00
Fuse Holder and 20A Fuse @ US$20.00 (1) – US$20.00
125A DC Breaker Box – @ US$120.00 (1) – US$120.00
6mm PV Cable @ US$1.22 (40) – US$48.80
4mm 3 core flex @ US$3.20 (90) – US$288.00
Changeover Switch @ US$47.00 (2) – US$94.00
Installation Material @ US$650.00 (1) – US$650.00
Labour (HRE) @ US$500.00 (1) – US$500.00

Total – US$6,950.00
Quattro 48V – 10KVA Inverter Charger @ US$4,500.00 (1) – US$4,500.00
Pylontech Li Battery 3.5KwHr @ US$1,494.00 (4) – US$5,976.00
345W Trina Solar Panels @ US$170.00 (16) US$2,720.00
Solar rail @ US$120.00 (5) – US$600.00
Automatic Voltage Switcher @ US$120.00 (1) – US$120.00
SPD 500V Surge Protector @ US$50.00 (1) – US$50.00
SmartSolar MPPT 250/100A @ US$995.00 (1) – US$995.00
Pylontech Battery Pack of 4 @ US$535.00 (1) – US$535.00
Cable kit @ US$45.00 (1) – US$45.00
Venus GX Intuitive Control Unit @ US$420.00 (1) – US$420.00
Cerbo GX Touch Display (Optional) @ US$400.00 (1) – US$400.00
RJ45 Ethernet Cable 1.8M @ US$25.00 (1) – US$25.00
V.E Direct 1.8M Cable @ US$25.00 (1) – US$25.00
Victron CanBus Type A Cable for batteries @ US$30.00 (1) – US$30.00
6mm PV Cable @ US$1.50 (100) – US$150.00
4mm 3 core flex @ US$3.30 (40) – US$132.00
125A Rebel Energy Breaker – @ US$120.00 (3) – US$360.00
32A Surge Protector MCB @ US$10.00 (6) – US$60.00
Installation Material @ US$950.00 (1) – US$950.00
Labour (HRE) @ US$1,200.00 (1) – US$1,200.00

Total – US$19,483.00

Contact Details

Mix and matching products from different stores

For those who want a better deal, you can mix and match compatible products from varying stores if you think that’s what will get the best value. However, you’ll also have to be mindful of how that affects the warranty of each individual product. It also means that you’ll need to get an installer who is universally accepted by all the stores and distributors.

However, it’ll be, I think, a headache to go to several stores when something fails be it because of a defective product or a dodgy installation. This is why most stores give you a complete installation kit and recommend an installer they trust because if something is to go wrong, it will be easier to get to the route cause.

Apart from mixing and matching, the setups are also modular so if the goal is a 10KVA system but the budget only allows for a basic level 5KVA, you can get a 5KVA now and when the budget allows, add another 5KVA later. All that’s involved is another 5KVA inverter and double the solar panels plus a couple switches and cables. Any of these stores can configure something for you that meets your preference and budget.

Grid-tied solar systems

If you have the budget to get any of these “full fat installations”, you might also want to consider ZESA’s Net Metering program which allows you to feed the national grid in exchange for energy credits. In saying that the system is by no means perfect and you can read more about it with the link below:

Two big problems with ZESA’s net metering program

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  1. Barf!

    I’m almost fully off-grid now! Once the gas oven-stove is in place, I will be! I’m fed up with that lot! Only time I’d ever need it would be for an arc-welder or similar, but haven’t needed to use something like that for ages!

  2. Huxley

    I assumed this would be a Leonard Sengere article but, it’s not. That’s why i didn’t read it till the end.
    Sorry Valentine, Monday is your day!

    1. Tatenda Chitera Gozho

      If one wants a durable system they should buy brand new lithium batteries not these second life batteries that have flooded the market. I also Recommend the Solar Masters guys they offer Solar systems at reasonable prices and amazing quality is guaranteed. Their kodak 5.6 KVA with 2x pylotech us 3000 batteries is going for only USD 6060, their Kodak 7.2 KVA solar system is going for USD 8440 and their Kodak 10kw is going for just USD 9000

      1. Robert M

        hi Tatenda. do they have 3kva then?

    2. Valentine’s fan

      Kiss my s huxley

      1. Anonymous

        Service providers are excessively greedy judging by their price differentials. There is still a lot of room to enter the solar power installation space to stamp out the rampant over pricing. For a 10KVA solar system, the lowest price of $11689.00 still makes his margin. The most expensive price of $22173.75 makes a criminal super profit of $11k in addition to the normal profit realised by the lowest priced service provider.
        There is need for consumer awareness to avoid falling into traps of the greedy. Be prudent with your money and shop around for fair prices.

    3. Faki Mali’uzobona.

      Civil servants such as school teachers,nurses,police and public service employees who work for enterprises such as the NRZ earn very little in US dollars.
      I’m not sure of their monthly salary but it’s a pittance if converted to American dollars.
      Street vendors and the rest of us who live in the townships and are unemployed or work in the informal sector also earn 🥜.
      How on earth do we afford such expensive technology???
      I will let you guys enjoy the heat,power and light.
      I’m stuck with ZESA and cannot see any light at the end of my dark tunnel.

      1. 20

        I have to say I installed 1yr 6m…zesa is very cheap don’t work on return on investment… I’ve got the 5kva 2 lithium pylonteck and 10 400w panels… Unfortunately I paid about 7k USD…. Pri CES have only dropped by 10%. More need to be done. Good news is the system has held up

  3. perelwandle

    Thank you for this, been trying to look into solar. Your break down is well appreciated.

  4. Anonymous

    Thank you valentine. Very Informative

  5. Hugh Jarse

    Solar is fast becoming the way to go, and not just because of erratic power supplies! The cost keeps rocketing, there’s no hope of the supply improving in the medium to long term, and the supply isn’t always as it should be (220 -240v) either! The management at zesa seem more interested in hefty perks for the brass than improved infrastructure as well.

  6. Irridescent Darkness

    Strangely enough for a Zimbo, I’d never owned a power pack before. Such a simple little thing was eye opening to just how much long distance family time, earning/learning potential I used to waste by time warping (aka sleeping 😅) through powercuts! Solar has become a no-brainer investment on my never ending list of Zim survival gear, right after digital passport 😂

  7. Rashid funani

    I am enjoying the solar system fully using gas on stove. With 3.5kva I use refrigerator, water booster pump, TV. Inside lights . Computers. On outside I use separate solar flood lights. I intend to upgrade on using washing machine and dish washer. I am done will call for bye bye to Zesa.

  8. Anonymous

    The price variations are of the suppliers…

  9. Meister Matifadza

    Thank you for the information but the prices are beyond the reach of many ordinary zimboz, not to mention other suppliers who are behaving like our own gvt there… i just saw a supplier in this article quoting an RJ45 ethernet cable 1.8m at $25usd 😂. It costs somewhere between $3-5usd which makes me wonder what other products are overpriced if not all of them

    1. Irridescent Darkness

      Maybe the cable has a 5 layer braided sheath of gold, platinum, titanium, iridium and fartanium alloy!

  10. wiz

    Great article

  11. William 4

    Is this an advert for the respective companies?

    1. Ad Pro

      It’s just a simple informative piece. And if one day one of these companies or another competitor finds value in paying for Techzims reach, there won’t be anything wrong with that as long as TZ discloses just as they have done in the past.

  12. Mike

    It is sad that Lithium batteries are so expensive. Lead acid batteries especially the suspect brands and the very very cheap sorts are not worth the bother.

    The question is some lithium batteries are advertised at very questionable low prices, but not low enough for to take a risk and experiment as one can do with a $100 lead acid battery. No one can afford to take a risk to experiment with a purchase of $700 with a dodgy warranty if one is ever offered

    For some folks even experimenting with a $30 lead acid battery is outside their affordability

    1. really

      Claims between what the manufacturers advertised and real world performance is critical criteria to consider when going solar. There is clearly a vacuum in the area of holding manufacturers accountable. We need Standard Association of Zimbabwe to step up and make Zimbabwe enact laws and regulations that protects consumers from fraudulent specifications and performance claims and that would hold importers and manufacturers liable for products on sale.

      Some manuals and documents are in broken English and some have gaps in ctitical information and instructions that can lead to costly installation mishaps.

      We don’t have to rely on luck and costly experiments in order to make solar system purchases.

      1. metoo

        Don’t get me started (who in their right mind should spend USD 1 500 on product that has:
        – no name of manufacturer
        – no support of Standards Association of Zimbabwe or other globally recognized standards body
        – no support of any local laws and standards for product safety design performance or durability
        _ no contact details of manufacturer
        – no contact details for support
        – no specifications
        – no safety or performance standards used for design, manufacture or performance
        – no details of importer or local representatives
        – no warranty
        – no receipts or if given might say all sales are final – no returns and no refunds
        – no traceability of a given company that is claimed to be the manufacturer
        – no knowledgeable sales people. Sales people who are ignorant aboult the capabilities and limitation of the product. E.g. one brand of the popular charge controllers at Gulf complex and at most vendors in Harare is designed for use with lithium batteries and all others boldly warn you they are intended for lead acid batteries ONLY, but no vendor seem to know or care about this limitation.

  13. Thermal Runaway

    It’s a shame we seem to be in the middle of a lithium mine fire sale! Hope we at least get back a plant or two so that power storage doesn’t end up costing as much.

  14. Anonymous

    For me Best article you have done to date . Keep it up!. These prices can be reduced if one takes the LTE ( long term evolution) strategy. Start with what you can afford. Say even 0.5 kva . Up it up to 1 kva, 2 kva and so on. There are many small time technicians who can do this for you.
    And you need not buy all the equipment at ones. Start with what you can afford and build it up stage by stage.
    More articles like this please.

  15. Anonymous

    Great article valentine

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