Coping with Load Shedding - Part 1

2015-05-21 07:30

When one considers the lack of ability of our current government to plan strategically and actually implement actions beneficial to SA, one has to revert to the old saying: "'n Boer maak mos 'n plan." So in this light., I have implemented several load-shedding solutions.

The first was to identify what we actually NEED when dear Eskom cuts the power. The answer was, firstly, our fridge and freezer. In the area where we are, even when there is a supposed 4-hour blackout, what normally happens is that the lights come on again, then the sub-station says 'Howzit'. The current then goes off again until some harassed Eskom techie gets around to fixing it. Result: outages of 12 hours and more are commonplace, resulting in defrosting fridges and rotten meat. 

Then, I need power for my computer and printer (I work from home), and also need to power the little electric pump for my solar water heater panels.

So we invested in a home UPS system: a 2.5KVA true sine wave inverter ( which gives even better-regulated 220V electricity than Eskom!) plus 4 x 12V deep-cycle 150AH batteries. Total cost, with electric plug points taken to fridge, freezer, solar pump, LED lighting and my computer was a bit under R30K, but worth every cent. Now I don't even know when the power goes off while I am working.

So far it has provided 220V current for a solid 12 hours, meaning no freezer defrosting and no dodgy meat! My wife even used her hair dryer (on medium) to dry her hair.

The batteries are deep-cycle Trojan ones, and according to their graph, they provide around 1500 cycles (usage) if not depleted lower than 40%. (My inverter prevents over-depletion.)  And another benefit is that all appliances connected to the inverter do not allow Eskom power to come through to them again until the Eskom voltage has stabilised. So no blown motors through a 270-volt surge when the current comes back on with a bang.

And when the current finally does reappear, the batteries recharge themselves at about R1.30 per kW (current charge per unit), compared with a generator that costs around R3.00 to R3.50 per kW. And there's no noise or unpleasant exhaust fumes, so no upset neighbours. In fact, some of them have decided to go the same route!

Next step will be photovoltaic, when the panel  prices come down a bit!

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