Pros & Cons of Prepaid Electricity Meters

I’m sure most of you have heard of prepaid electricity meters and wondered whether you should make the switch. Some people swear it’s cheaper and others consider anything prepaid to be inferior. Let me tell you about my experience and the advice that I was given.

I’ve heard that prepaid meters are cheaper and the usage is easier to manage. Naturally, we’re all interested in cutting costs so I decided to take the plunge.

Apparently the Ethekwini prepaid meters are a bit cheaper than the other prepaid meters as the latter has a percentage that goes to the company.

I collected the form from Ethekwini Electricity and started the process. I heard that the application process takes a few months so I didn’t hold my breath. It was quicker than expected. I received a proforma invoice for the meter which needed to be paid before the meter is installed. So off I went to my nearest branch which is in Umhlanga.

Here’s where it gets interesting, we all have been programmed from past experiences with government departments to expect the worst.

When I went there, the lady asked why I wanted to change and then proceeded with the following:

1) Prepaid meters are billed at the same rate as the postpaid meters so there’s no difference in the price.
2) ‎The prepaid meters operate wirelessly and bad weather can affect it. There are instances where people were unable to load the prepaid token during a storm.
3) ‎If the prepaid meter becomes faulty, it can take quite a while to be repaired. Repairs or replacements are at your cost. I suppose it’s a matter of prioritization for the municipality, a single unit is not as important as an entire road / area being down. So I guess postpaid connections have a higher priority.

Apparently, there are people that switched to prepaid and had so many issues that they are trying to switch back to postpaid. And it takes just as long to go back to postpaid.

So how do you only pay for your usage and not an estimation?

The lady showed me my invoice and explained how to read it. Frankly, it was Greek to me prior to this. They were estimating my usage hence the fluctuation in the cost. She told me to try sending the readings to the municipality for three months and if it didn’t help then I can reconsider the prepaid option.

The municipality has an sms service for meter readings. All you have to do is sms your account number, meter number and the reading (use a comma to separate the numbers) to 30909. You’ll get a confirmation sms that it’s been received and a confirmation sms once their system has been updated.
When you do this each month, the municipality will bill you only for your usage. In other words, you’ll only pay for what you use.

That being said, I’ve submitted the readings and can see the results. If only all government departments showed this kind of service. Well done guys.

I hope that this article has helped you. Let me know your thoughts on this matter.

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10 thoughts on “Pros & Cons of Prepaid Electricity Meters

  1. Been on prepaid option for 3 years, 1 year ago R100 got you 80kw, 1 month ago 53 kw and today 50kw, 50kw doesn’t even last 3 days in a 2 bedroom flat with 2 and a half ppl, finding the prepaid option Extremely costly and have. Ever one received a notification of price increase, Wanting to switch over from Ethekwini to another operator as usual Government is finding a way to screw you up the bum. Not Impressed.

    1. Hi Sash.

      From my understanding, it’s only beneficial if you are a landlord that doesn’t want to get saddled with an unpaid bill or if you are the municipality since being paid cash upfront is obviously better.
      Prepaid can be dangerous if the unit is damaged and the technician is delayed for whatever reason. You will be stuck without electricity and its priority is lower in comparison with an area being down.

    1. Hi Jan

      There is no difference in the rate charged on prepaid. It would be safer to stay on postpaid and sms the reading to them 10 days before your bill is due. Prepaid seems cheaper but you can achieve the same results by ensuring they have the accurate reading.

    1. Hi Raynok

      My apologies for the delay, send it 10 days before your bill is due. That should give the system enough time to update.

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