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Alternative power and should I get it?

South Africa has a very unstable power grid with loadshedding and power outages plaguing us on a constant basis. This is not only a nuisance but is also damaging to your home appliances which can amount to thousands of Rands of damage or repair. You need dependable power delivery to protect your valuable equipment. Here are fantastic alternative power solutions that solve these problems.

What are my options?

Well in this day and age, we have a huge range of system to choose from like; Solar Panels, Inverter Systems, Wind turbines, Hydro power, Solar Heating to name but a few. However some of these solutions are very costly and just not practical. Here are 4 alternative power solutions that are the most cost effective and maintainable.

  • UPS System – plug and play or grid installed
  • Inverter System
  • Rooftop Solar Panels – feeding your inverter only or with battery back up
  • Standby Generator – manual start up or automatic

The most important part is to determine what size system you need and what your system will feed, to do this you need to carefully calculate your power consumption or how much the devices will draw from your system. Keep in mind that the average South African house hold consumes about 900 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per month, according to Eskom.

Lets break down for each of these systems.

UPS System

UPS Systems come in all shapes and sizes, from plug and play units (just plugging the UPS in to your socket outlet) to grid installed units which require an electrician to install it with the necessary certification. These units are normally installed in your garage or a spot inside your house close to your current electrical DB. The UPS Systems sizes for Home use starts at 1000VA and can go up to 20kVA single Phase, it all depends on your personal needs.

Inverter System

Inverter Systems are similar to UPS Systems, they both store electricity in a battery when power is available and provide it to various devices in the event of an electricity outage. All UPS’s contain an inverter as well as a battery charger, but not all inverters offer a built-in battery charger. A UPS system has a quicker response time when power goes out than to that of a inverter. Remember, your online UPS is always in use even when the power is on, so when the power goes out it continues to provide power until the batteries are depleted. Inverters come in a range of sizes to choose from.

Rooftop Solar Panels

We have all seen them, on house roofs, carports and even on top of bill boards. They come in all shapes and sizes but all of them do the same thing – make electricity from sunlight. We have seen the combo set at the local hardware, where you can buy a solar light including the solar panel for those areas around the house where power is a problem. This example is a small panel just for a light, but these units can be combined to form part of 260 – 300 kilo-watt systems for corporate businesses that can run on top of their buildings.

The 2 basic systems in place is a Power Storage Supported and Unsupported system. Most companies implements a storage Unsupported system, so what does this mean? In short, the solar system provides power to an inverter which converts it to 220AC or even more, and then directs this power into the building to run the daily power requirements of the company. When the sun goes down the panels stop producing power and the building then again relies on grid power, but most companies operate during the day and consume less power in the evenings. Power Storage Supported systems do exactly the same thing, but store some of the power in a battery bank for use when the solar panels is not producing power.

Standby Generators

Standby Generators come in a large range of makes and sizes, but do the same thing – generates power when we experience outages or load shedding. The 2 main ways of applying generators is manual operated or automatic switch over. Manual operated systems involve an individual going to the generator and starting it while switching the power over to the generator board, if the generator only supplies some parts of your home or business. An automatic switch over system does all of this automatically.

Get Started with Interconnect Systems

If you found this article to be insightful and have any questions or problems with your alternative power solutions at home or the office please contact us or at the sales office at nationalsales@interconnect.co.za

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