South Africa’s power utility company,
Eskom, has been struggling to maintain a consistent power supply, causing frequent blackouts.
In this article we will explore the various load shedding solutions available to you, also highlighting the pros and cons of each option.
The Ups Backup System
One of the key solutions for load shedding is the UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) backup system. These systems have been prevalent in the computer industry for some time and offer a reliable short-term power source.
The UPS backup system comes in a lithium-ion option, which is suggested over the phased-out lead acid options. It can power devices like modems, phones, and laptops during load shedding, typically lasting a few hours depending on the load.
The UPS backup system is easy to install as it is plug-and-play, but it lacks expandability. You cannot add additional batteries or increase its capacity.
To summarise, the pros of the UPS backup system are its affordability, easy installation without the need for an electrician, and versatility in powering essential devices. However, its limitations include the inability to expand battery capacity and the system’s inability to support heavy loads.
Load Shedding Unit
A further option is the load shedding unit, which essentially consists of an inverter and a battery enclosed in a box. These units come in various sizes, with inverters ranging from one to five kilowatts and battery capacities from one to five kilowatt-hours.
Load shedding units are portable and generally equipped with wheels, allowing for easy mobility. They can power devices like TVs, lights, computers, phones, and modems, but they are not suitable for heavy appliances such as kettles or refrigerators.
Similar to UPS backup systems, load shedding units have limitations when it comes to expandability and upgradability. The lead acid option is not recommended due to its shorter lifespan.
To summarise, load shedding units provide a step up from UPS systems, enabling the power supply to a wider range of devices. However, they lack the scalability and flexibility required for a comprehensive long-term solution.
Built-in Load Shedding Kit: The Best Solution
For a robust and scalable solution, the built-in load shedding kit stands out as the best option. This system consists of an inverter and a battery and is intended for direct wiring into your house’s distribution board (DB board).
The key advantage of this kit is its expandability and extendibility. The DB board allows you to prioritize power distribution to lights and plugs, and it can be easily upgraded to include additional devices or accommodate future needs, such as solar power integration.
This flexibility makes the built-in load shedding kit the most versatile and reliable option for addressing load shedding. By choosing this option, you can ensure that your essential appliances are powered during blackouts while keeping the possibility of future upgrades open.
Tips for Making the Most of Your Living Situation
Now, let’s look at some strategies based on different living situations to help you choose the best load shedding solution.
If you live in an apartment, it is recommended to invest in an off-grid inverter, preferably a UPS version, along with a small battery bank.
A 3.5 kilowatt-hour battery should be sufficient to power most devices in your household, excluding high-consumption appliances like electric stoves, kettles, and microwaves.
This system serves as an excellent starting point, allowing you to add another battery in the future to cover those appliances as well.
Homes with Solar Integration
For houses with the ability to install a larger system and future plans for solar integration, a few factors should be considered.
First, ensure that the inverter size is sufficient for future requirements by calculating the total wattage of all appliances to be powered simultaneously. It is crucial to choose a quality hybrid inverter or, if opting for an off-grid inverter, select a high-voltage model with UPS functionality.
This upsizing of the inverter ensures that it can handle the additional load effectively. Additionally, it is important to select a reputable battery brand that will remain available in the market for future expansions.
Lastly, hiring a professional and experienced installer is critical to ensure a clean and tidy installation, proper surge protection, and thorough testing of the system before finalizing the setup.
Choosing the right load shedding solution is crucial for uninterrupted power supply in South Africa.
While UPS backup systems and load shedding units offer temporary relief, the built-in load shedding kit stands out as the most reliable and scalable option.
By directly integrating an inverter and battery into your house’s DB board, you gain the flexibility to prioritize power distribution and expand the system’s capacity as needed. Consider your specific living situation and future plans when deciding on the appropriate solution.
Investing in a quality system, choosing the right-sized inverter and battery, and relying on professional installation will ensure a reliable and efficient load shedding solution for your household.
Remember, finding a reliable solution to load shedding is essential for maintaining productivity, comfort, and peace of mind in your daily life.
The information provided in this article serves as a general guide. It is advisable to consult professionals and refer to manufacturer specifications for specific recommendations and requirements for your specific load shedding solution.