What’s the Best Inverter for Load Shedding?
Thanks to Eskom loadshedding is here to stay. If you’re tired of living in the dark when power cuts occur, you’ve come to the right place. A back up power system will make a world of difference!
You do not have to resort to a noisy diesel-guzzling generator to make it through power cuts. An inverter with a backup battery can be a more affordable and convenient backup power solution. Find out which inverter is best for load shedding and how to choose the right one here.
What is an Inverter?
An inverter is a device that converts the power received from external batteries into electricity that can power your home and appliances. It works by converting DC voltage into AC voltage, meaning it converts a direct current into an alternate current to match the voltage requirements of South African home applications.
How Does an Inverter Work?
A basic circuit includes an oscillator, control circuitry, a driver circuit for the power device, switches, and a transformer. To convert DC power into alternating voltage, we must convert the DC power in sources, such as a battery, into alternate energy.
This is achieved using switching devices which are continuously turned on and off, and then stepping it up using the transformer. There are some configurations that don’t use transformers, but they’re not commonly used.
As mentioned earlier, the power device that feeds the pulse signal to the primary coil of the transformer switches ON/OFF the DC input voltage. Fluctuating voltage in the primary coil causes an alternating voltage in the secondary winding. The transformer also amplifies the output voltage at a rate determined by the turn’s ratio.
In most cases, this means raising it from 12V to 230V AC. The top three inverters commonly used include a push-pull full bridge, half-bridge, and a push-pull with centre tap transformer. The latter is most popular because it is simple and gives guaranteed results, although it is less efficient and uses a heavier transformer.
What Inverter Output Waves Are There?
Inverters are classified based on their wave output forms. These are the pure sine wave, the modified sine wave, and the square wave. The square wave is cheapest but delivers lower power quality than the other options. A modified wave is preferable, delivering marginally improved power quality.
These are most applicable for use with household electronics. The best inverter waveform is the true sine wave. Because it is most expensive, people often use it for stereos, laser printers, and medical equipment. They’re also used in grid-tied equipment and with grid-tied inverters.
How Are Inverters Used?
Often, inverters are installed in homes that are connected to the grid. These grid inverters convert the power coming from the nearest power station to your home into a voltage that is safe to use in your home. The amounts of electricity flowing to a device at one time matter.
For example, if your Wi-Fi router runts on 15 volts, the 230 volts coming from Eskom need to be converted to be safe to use. If you put more voltage than required into the device, it will fry it from the inside out. This makes inverters an essential element in most power supply systems.
We use inverters in uninterruptible power supplies, solar systems, switched-mode power supplies, and as standalone devices.
Do I Need an Inverter for Alternative Power During Load Shedding?
To use alternative backup power solutions, you will most likely need an inverter. The only backup power that definitely won’t require a standalone inverter is a UPS. Uninterruptible power supplies aren’t made to supply backup power, but rather to protect electronic devices from power surges. Even so, they contain a built-in inverter.
A UPS could give you a maximum of 4 hours’ power for smaller devices like your laptop, depending on the size. It won’t power larger items in your home, like your TV, fridge, or kettle. Luckily, there are affordable load-shedding solutions out there that can last longer and give you more usable energy.
What Types of Backup Power Systems Require Inverters?
All power systems need inverters, but when you are purchasing a backup power supply system, this inverter can be a separate item that must be purchased on its own. When you are getting an inverter for load shedding, it’s important to understand which types of systems are available to you and what would work best for your needs.
Different systems have unique benefits and pitfalls, power supply capabilities, and duration. Let’s look at the top back-up solutions requiring inverters.
- Solar Panel Back-Up Systems
Solar systems can often include grid-tied inverters, depending on the type of solar system you choose. If you choose to go completely off-grid with a solar system in place, you’ll need a solar inverter specifically for the job. These inverters convert the solar energy collected via solar panel into useable energy for your home or office.
A grid-tied solar system supplements your power supply with solar energy while the sun is shining. If you add a solar battery, you can store this energy for later use. Most systems have at least one solar battery, but you could build a whole battery bank if you choose.
- Backup Battery / Power Bank
The other option is to purchase a battery hooked up to an inverter to give you power. The type of batteries you choose will influence what you can power and for how long. If you need more electricity, for example, if you have a larger home or want to power your business, you can build a power bank — a number of batteries that, together, give you more capacity.
This option is highly customisable. Now, the battery you’d get wouldn’t be the good old AA or AAA. These batteries are more similar to the ones under the hood of your car. It’s important to get enough power for all the essential devices you want to keep switched on.
What Size Backup Power System Do I Need?
The size depends wholly on what you need to power. To work it out, you can add up the power requirements for each device together. Remember to differentiate between items that are essential and low consumption vs. heavy load items like stoves, pumps, geysers, and kettles.
After adding up the power needs for everything you want to keep on while there is loadshedding, you can compare it to the backup system’s capacity. Your peak power requirements should be less than the power rating of the backup system you buy.
Whether you want solar power, an inverter, or a backup battery power system, we can help with load shedding solutions to suit your budget. Talk to one of our experts today to find an effective solution for your needs.