I was awakened at 4am this morning by a shrieking alarm, a husband running around in the dark using every swear word known to man, the family dog barking and my three-year-old twins crying a cry that unlocked a new fear in me (I do apologise to my neighbours).
The reason was that the brand new battery that powers the electric fence had given up, or, more truthfully, Eskom had broken the battery that powers the electric fence that keeps my family safe.
There is no end in sight for South Africa’s rolling blackout problems, and they only seem to be getting worse. Yesterday, after a brief suspension of five hours, Eskom announced that it will be implementing stage 5 from today, 21 November to Wednesday evening between 4pm and midnight each night.
Our power utility is broke and the hens have come home to roost!
Is it time we stopped putting our faith in the ever-incompetent power utility, Eskom?
South Africans are gatvol and are looking for alternative power solutions that can be relied upon to power the essentials. Inverters are becoming an affordable and popular choice.
If you are considering purchasing an inverter, here is some useful information you need to know answered by Look See:
What is an inverter and how does it work?
An inverter is a device, which converts alternating current (AC) power supply into direct current (DC) and vice versa. This means the device can convert conventional residential electricity into the power used by batteries to charge and back again when conventional electricity output is required from the batteries.
How is an inverter set up?
The inverter system setup is quite simple. One or more batteries are connected to the inverter and then the device is plugged into a powerpoint. While normal residential electricity supply is available, the inverter charges the battery until it has reached capacity. When normal electricity supply is interrupted, the inverter switches over – either automatically or manually, depending on the model – to output mode, drawing power from the batteries, converting to AC and providing electricity through the built-in plug points in the inverter.
What are the different types of inverters?
Typically, inverters offer either a pure or modified sine wave supply. A pure sine wave device offers less electrical interference making it perfect for sensitive electronics and appliances. However, pure sine wave inverters are more expensive than modified sine wave devices, so investigate the items you wish to power from your inverter before making a decision.
What are the advantages of an inverter system?
Unlike generators, inverter systems are very quiet, do not emit fumes and can be kept and run indoors. For people living in sectional title complexes and under homeowners’ associations that do not allow generators, inverters are often the most effective option.
What are the disadvantages of an inverter system?
Inverter systems are limited by the capacity of the battery storage. Once this runs out, you have to wait for the normal electricity supply to be restored to recharge the batteries.
What size inverter do I need?
When deciding on an inverter and battery backup system, there are many elements to consider. To start with, make a note of the watt requirements of all the items you would like to run off your inverter system and add this up (1 000 watts = 1 kW). Next, consider how long you would like these items to be powered by your inverter system. With this information on hand, you will know how much power output will be required from your inverter as well as the capacity requirements for your batteries. Ideally, your requirements should be no more than 75% of your inverter and battery bank’s capacity to prevent overloading.