How Do Prepaid Electricity Meters Work?

Prepaid meters (sometimes also referred to as “prepayment meters”, or “prepaid electricity meters”) are now being used by 79% of households in the City of Cape Town, according to Statistics South Africa’s South African Community Survey 2016. Prepaid meters allow for the purchasing of electricity tokens in advance of their consumption. The purchasing of electricity tokens for use with prepaid meters is facilitated by the global Standard Transfer Specification Association (STSA) to ensure safety, security, and ease of use.

How Many Units Can I Buy for R100 (2021/2022)?

The number of kWh you can load onto your prepaid meters for R100 will depend on your tariff. Residential tariffs are affected by a number of factors such as monthly usage (12 month average), value of the property, type of electricity meter being used, and whether or not you are registered to receive a rates rebate. Residential properties valued at over R1,000,000 for example are billed under the “Home User” tariff. Users on the Home User tariff scheme are charged 272,42 cents per kWh (on Block 1 - where monthly consumption is less than 600 kWh) and 331.26 cents per kWh (on Block 2 - where monthly consumption is more than 600 kWh). That means, when spending R100 on prepaid electricity, Domestic  be able to purchase 36.7 units on Domestic tariff (Block 1), and 41.6 units on Home User tariff (Block 1).

Example of average monthly account billing on the Home User tariff (City of Cape Town)Units Received (kWh)2021/2022250R794.39450R1 274.47600R1 634.53800R2 297.051000R2 959.571500R4 615.87

What Are the Benefits of Prepaid Meters?

Prepaid electricity meters offer a wide range of benefits compared to defunct accumulation meters:


Purchasing electricity tokens in advance of electricity consumption promotes the conscious consumption of energy making them an extremely important green property feature. On average, household energy consumption is reduced by 14% after switching to prepaid methods!


Transactions are secured by the global STS standard strictly governed by the International Electrotechnical Commission. This system dictates specifications for token generation and transactions to ensure that payment is secure and that customers are able to use the service without any inconvenience.

Knowledge is Power

Prepaid electricity meters display the number of kWh available to users at any given time. This information isn’t just useful for reducing energy consumption… It’s also useful for identifying high consumption appliances or energy leakages and phantom power loss.

No Month-End Surprises

Paying for electricity in advance prevents inflated bills from arriving in the mail and disrupting monthly budgeting. With prepaid meters you only use what you can afford because you’ve already purchased it!

Helping Landlords

Prepaid meters bring big advantages for landlords too! Gone are the days of manually distributing electricity bills to tenants and hoping they pay on time. That also means you won’t have to argue with tenants after annual meter readings take place when monthly estimates plus tariff increases inevitably cause shock.

Prepaid meters help to ensure that there are no month-end surprises and that budgeting is easier.
Prepaid meters help to ensure that there are no month-end surprises and that budgeting is easier

Is It Better to Buy Smaller Amounts of Prepaid Electricity?

There is a common misconception that purchasing smaller amounts of electricity multiple times per month will reduce the cost per unit of electricity. This is not true. According to the City of Cape Town’s official website the best way to purchase prepaid electricity is “once a month, and only as much as you need.” The reason for this is the cost per unit of electricity is not determined by the amount purchased at any given time. The cost per unit of electricity is based on the tariff assigned to your property based on your average monthly consumption and property type.

Should I Install Prepaid Meters?​

If you’re a trustee, body corporate or homeowners’ association wondering whether or not you should have prepaid electricity meters installed, you’ve come to the right place. Inpower provides intelligent energy solutions for apartment blocks, secure estates, and business parks alike. Installing prepaid meters really is a bright idea: they can reduce the administrative and cash flow burden of postpaid systems. Additionally, when upgrading from accumulation meters you’ll be guaranteed that your metering solution is regulation compliant. Get in touch with Inpower today for a quote.

Do you need more information