South Africans are no strangers to stage 6 load shedding, and many people are searching for ways to power their homes without the help of the national grid. If you enjoy lots of direct sunlight, you could use solar battery power and a solar inverter to generate and store your own electricity off-grid.
Installing an inverter is a popular way to avoid the effects of load shedding in South Africa. They’re relatively affordable, depending on how you look at it, and they can provide hours of power to small electronics while homes go without electricity.
What is an Inverter?
Before we go further, let’s quickly catch up on what an inverter actually is. It’s an electrical device that converts direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC). It can also be a battery-based system used to run household appliances through conventional wiring.
You can find two types of inverters in South Africa: modified sine wave, and sine wave. Sine wave inverters are the more expensive option but perform more optimally. But there’s something to be said for a more affordable modified sine wave, especially when you’re desperate to have a little normalcy during hours of load shedding.
An inverter doesn’t produce energy on its own but rather stores it in an inverter battery for future use. Now that we’ve got that out the way, let’s look at the benefits of having an inverter in your home.
What Are the Benefits of Using an Inverter?
Uninterrupted power supply
The best part of installing an inverter is the power! Having lights on, running the TV, enjoying the Wi-Fi; these are all wonderful benefits to have when you’re living in South Africa. They take away the load shedding blues that we all feel whenever our power gets cut. Depending on the size of the batteries you get, an inverter could easily last you through the longest load shedding stint—four hours. It might not be full electricity capacity, but it’s enough to power the basics.
Compared to other alternative energy devices, such as generators, they’re sleek and modern. They hardly make a noise—just a mild hum, which is a huge bonus compared to the din that generators produce.
They also don’t create fumes like generators do, which is better for your immediate environment. This means you can also keep them indoors.
Because they’re powered by an inverter battery or two, inverters don’t need any routine maintenance, such as cleaning. Much like a car battery, they just get on with the job and only need to be considered again when they start to deteriorate.
For an inverter, this would mean not holding a charge for as long as it used to. This is different to a generator, which does need routine maintenance, sort of like a car engine does.
There’s no time between when load shedding starts and the inverter kicks in, providing continuous power. This means you can carry on watching whatever TV show you’re bingeing without missing a beat, or keep working without having to wait for the internet to start up again.
No Running Costs
Because there is no maintenance required, it means that there are no running costs associated with having an inverter if it is connected to a renewable source of energy like solar. There is an initial cost for the system, and costs further down the line when the batteries need replacing.
If there is any running cost, it will be the cost of charging the batteries with power from the grid, if your system is set up this way. This is still much better than the more expensive costs associated with running a generator, which requires you to keep buying fuel to keep it running.
Tips to Keep in Mind for Your Inverter
To make the most of the benefits of these electronic devices, here are some things we recommend you keep in mind:
- Go for quality. You want an inverter that produces the ‘purest’ or ‘truest’ current wave as possible—but you do want to balance this with affordability.
- Understand your power requirements and get the right size inverter. An inverter without enough juice to power what you want is a waste of money. Inverters can have capacity from 100W to 4000W; it really all depends on what you want to do with it.
- Try not to let the batteries go flat. This can damage them and significantly and reduce the amount of time they last.
- Try not to overload the system. It’s recommended to aim to use 75% of the inverter’s capacity to keep it in good condition for as long as possible.
- Don’t buy refurbished batteries. They’re never quite the same as they were in their original condition.
- Talk to the experts in inverters. If you’re looking at a larger system, it’s a good idea to call in the experts to design and install it for you. You wouldn’t want to spend a fortune on larger inverters if they’re not going to work optimally. Experts will also know where to find the best vertical surface for installation.
Looking to reduce the time during load shedding that gives you the blues? At PHD Powerhouse, we specialise in alternative power supply solutions that can keep you sane during grey-outs. We have offices throughout South Africa—in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban. Send us a message from wherever you are, and we’ll get back to you.