Choosing the right energy solution will mean that you never have to be affected by loadshedding again.
There are energy solutions to suit just about every need and budget, so read on before choosing the one for you.
The simplest form of alternative power solution is the power bank, which contains a rechargeable battery that can be charged and then used to power a device such as a phone via a USB cable. They’re portable and affordable and can contain enough power to charge multiple devices. Some good options are the RCT Megapower Power Bank and the really cool Lalela GW17500C Universal Laptop Power bank. A power station might sound totally different, but it is actually just a more substantial power bank, with a bigger battery and so capable of charging bigger or more devices. For these, look at the 200 W Magneto DBK502 Portable Power Station or 150 W Ellies Lifelynk Cube Mega Portable Inverter.
Another great product is a Wi-Fi UPS, which is a power bank designed specifically to run your fibre or ADSL modem and your Wi-Fi router, so that you can stay connected for work or entertainment right through loadshedding. There are a number of these available, including the Vizia Mini DC Wi-Fi UPS and Titan Elecstor 24000 mAh 75 Wh Mini UPS.
If you’re looking to power more than just devices, perhaps a TV, some lights and a laptop, you’ll need something more powerful than a power bank. A larger power station such as the 720 W Ecoflow River Pro Portable Power Station or the 1200 W Magneto DBK512 Portable Power Station is an option. Alternatively look at an inverter like the Lalela 80 Ah Pure Sine Wave Trolley Inverter or Lalela 80 Ah Pure Sine Wave Trolley Inverter or opt for a small generator like the 2500 W Ryobi RG-2700 Generator. Look at the power output of the energy solution and compare it to your needs before making a decision. This will prevent you from buying something that can’t deliver what you need.
You might want to power lights, the TV and the internet, as well as vital appliances such as the fridge. For this you should look at a larger generator or inverter.
Generators are easily accessible and require little installation time or costs, but they do run on expensive diesel or petrol fuel and they’re not silent, unlike the other options. Look at options such as Gentech 5.5 kVA Recoil Start Petrol Generator or Grip 7.5 Kva Petrol Recoil Start Generator.
Inverters like the 1000 W Mobi-Volt Micro UPS and 2000 W RCT MegaPower Trolley Inverter are quiet and hassle-free, providing seamless power to the selected appliances. Some models, like the Mobi-volt Pure Sine Wave Hybrid Trolley Inverter (3000 W), even have built-in solar panels as well as the batteries.
The whole shebang
It’s possible to install a power solution in your home so that you barely know when loadshedding is there are a few ways to achieve this. A big generator like the Gentech 11 kVA Petrol Generator or Ryobi RG-10 KVA Generator 10 KVA is one option, while another is a solar setup, including solar panels, batteries and an inverter. A solar system powers batteries using the sun’s energy, making it available when it is needed. Solar power can supplement your mains electricity even when there is power, making it a more affordable long-term solution. Bear in mind that solar systems and large generators need to be professionally installed.
Good old gas
Don’t forget the power of LPG gas, which can be used for heating, cooking and heating water for baths and showers. Gas heaters such as the Elba 16/EL1000RS Retro Gas Heater and the retro Goldair 3-panel Gas Heater are very effective and efficient and are available in a few different sizes.
Modern gas geysers such as those from Totai and Atlas are incredible, with features such as self-ignition and constant temperatures no matter the water flow. They come in different sizes for different applications, such as small ones for the kitchen and larger ones for a bathroom with a bath and shower.
Gas is a superb source of energy for cooking, especially in stove form, as it is quick and easy. There is a large variety of gas stoves and ovens made by Bosch, Whirlpool, Defy and more (including braais like the Megamaster Apex Series Patio Braai!) available to suit needs and budgets, as well as accessories such as stove-top kettles.
Calculating your usage
A useful step in deciding what energy solution you need is to calculate how much power you need as a backup. To calculate your power consumption, follow these steps:
- Determine the wattage of each device or appliance you wish to power. You can usually find the wattage information on the device itself or in the user manual.
- Multiply the wattage of each device by the number of hours you expect to use it during load shedding. Typically, load shedding lasts from 2 to 4.5 hours at a time.
- Add up the wattages of all the devices and appliances you want to power.
- Divide the total watt-hours by the battery capacity of the backup solution you are considering. You can find the battery capacity in the user manual.
Here’s an example to illustrate the formula:
Suppose you want to power a TV (100 watts), a router (10 watts), and a couple of LED lights (20 watts in total) during a 2-hour load shedding period:
- Determine the wattage of each device: TV = 100 watts, router = 10 watts, lights = 20 watts.
- Multiply the wattage by the number of hours of use: TV = 200 watt-hours (100 watts x 2 hours), router = 20 watt-hours (10 watts x 2 hours), lights = 40 watt-hours (20 watts x 2 hours).
- Add up the wattages for all devices: 200 + 20 + 40 = 260 watt-hours.
- Divide the total watt-hours by the battery capacity of the backup solution you are considering. If the battery has a capacity of 1000 watt-hours, it will last for approximately 3.85 hours (1000 watt-hours/260 watt-hours usage).
Everything you need to not only survive during loadshedding but thrive is available from Builders, both in-store and online at builders.co.za.
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