Tips on how to beat load-shedding

Issue 1 2022 Smart Home Automation

You may be wondering how to prepare your house or your business for load-shedding. This guide provides ideas for you to consider, some of which are easy and affordable.

Do the easy things first

1. Check the load-shedding schedule to plan your electricity usage. Buy a small gas cooker if you don’t already cook with gas.

2. Make sure that your electronics, like your cellphone and laptop, have sufficient battery life.

3. Buy a solar cell charger, a carphone charger, or a cellphone power bank.

4. Buy rechargeable lights. They last for up to 10 hours when fully charged.

5. Buy a surge protector plug for your television, computer and fridge. This will protect your appliances when the power comes back on.

Research ways to 'load-shed proof' your house

Calculate the daily minimum amount of electricity needed for the household. Do you need the lights, fridge and TV on? Or only the lights and TV?

• You can then find out how much electricity each appliance needs.

• With lights, identify the wattage of your lights (it is usually printed on the globe itself).

• With appliances, find the labels on the appliance that state the power usage.

Kettles and electric stoves use a lot of electricity over a short period of time, so it’s best not to include these. You can rather use a gas stove to heat your water or cook your food. It is also best to exclude your geyser, as it uses a lot of electricity.

Now that you know how much power you will need, find out what the different options will cost you. Load-shedding can last for between two and four hours at a time. Therefore, an ideal battery system capacity of five hours should be sufficient.

A battery backup system consists of the following components:

Battery charger: charges the rechargeable batteries from the AC mains power while there is no load-shedding. (Sometimes the battery charger is built into the inverter.)

Inverter: converts the DC battery power into usable AC power during load-shedding. Use an approved inverter. Grid-tied inverters must be registered with the municipality and installed by a qualified person.

Battery: stores the electrical power for later use. Compliance requirements are that if your battery system is a stand-alone appliance you plug devices into, there are no compliance issues. If your battery system (including inverter) is interconnected with the wiring of your house, it must be declared via the municipality’s SSEG process to confirm that either it is operating safely as an off-grid system or it is compliant and authorised as a grid-tied system (usually in conjunction with PV). Use an inverter approved by your municipality and installed by a qualified person. The size of the battery system will depend on the equipment to be powered during load-shedding.

An inverter that can provide 1000 Watt (10,5 A) continuous output and around 600 Wh energy will be required if you need very limited usage with an average load of 240 W. For example :

• Four to six LED or compact fluorescent lights (CFL) amounting to 24 W for LEDs or 45 W for CFLs.

• A TV and a decoder use 30 W when off and 150 W when in use.

• A cellphone charger uses 0,5 W not charging and 6 W when charging.

Three solutions from RCT

• RCT MegaPower MP-T1000S inverter trolley or portable option RCT MegaPower MP-PBS160AC power banks. An inverter that can provide 2000 Watt (10,5 A) continuously output and around 1,2 kWh energy will be required for an average three-bedroom house where the usage will be limited to an average load of 480 W.

• RCT MegaPower MP-T2000S power trolley. An inverter that can provide 5600 Watt (17 A) continuously and around 4,8 kWh energy will be required for bigger houses, small offices and shops that want to be unaffected by load-shedding. This option will be limited up to a load of 1500 W.

• RCT-AXPERT 5.6K MK4 inverter with Dyness A48100 4,8 kWh lithium batteries.

With all three options, all cooking - including the boiling of water - is achieved using gas and not electricity. In addition, none of these options will be able to power a geyser. A qualified electrician can install the battery and connect it to certain circuits, so that only some items are powered during load-shedding.

Alternatively, you can buy a stand-alone uninterrupted power supply (UPS) backup battery system, which allows you to plug in one or more items (similar to a generator). RCT has a number of options available starting at R5999,00 for a 1000 W inverter and battery.

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