Seeking alternative power sources

Residential Security Handbook 2022: SMART Living Smart Home Automation, Residential Estate (Industry)

Gregor Kuepper.

The reality of ongoing blackouts remains ever-present for South Africans. Households and businesses, in particular smaller businesses that do not have the luxury of large generators in an office or warehouse environment, continue to seek out alternative power sources to keep the lights on.

According to Gregor Kuepper, managing director of SolarWorld Africa, there has been a marked uptake in renewable energy solutions as consumers start preparing for the worst – ongoing Stage 6 load shedding. “Solar used to only be a solution for large-scale businesses or those with adequate space to house enough panels to support electricity consumption. Fortunately, thanks to innovation in this space, homes and small businesses now have several options available to provide temporary support when there is a power cut, and potentially long-term relief as the preferred ongoing power source.”

The SolarWorld Africa team has almost 40 years’ experience and a proven track record in sub-Saharan Africa. Kuepper explains how the following solutions will keep the lights on (or the kettle boiling) and machines running during load shedding, ultimately helping people to become more self-sufficient or grid-independent.

There are different types of solar energy systems: on-grid (grid-tied), off-grid, and on-grid with backup. “Grid-tied solar PV systems are most common in South Africa, as these are the most affordable and have the best business case. However, this does not necessarily ensure that you will be able to enjoy that cup of coffee during load shedding. Grid-tied solar PV systems will generally be programmed to switch off during load shedding,” Kuepper points out.

Why is this? It comes down to international safety standards. However, it does not mean South Africans have to remain in the dark. Kuepper sheds some light on the different solutions available.

Grid-tied photovoltaic (PV) system

A photovoltaic system, also known as a PV system or solar power system, is an electric power system designed to supply usable solar power by means of photovoltaics. The two main components are PV panels (DC power) and a grid-tied PV inverter (DC to AC).

Why do you need a grid-tied PV inverter? It converts the varying DC power from the PV panels into AC power, which it feeds to your household equipment and possibly into the grid. ‘Grid-tied’ means the inverter synchronises the frequency and the output voltage to its connected grid. If solar energy is insufficient, a grid-tied PV inverter switches and starts drawing power from the grid into your home. This ensures there is a seamless supply of power.

“This option saves electricity in the long run, with no backup required. The pure PV inverters are grid-tied, meaning they require the grid to switch on and convert the direct current into alternating current which is required by appliances in your home,” says Kuepper.

On-grid with backup

• PV and battery: This is a backup and later self-consumption optimisation (SCO) option. Self-consumption contributes to the distribution grid stability by avoiding voltage rises during peak PV generation periods such as the middle of the day, and helps to reach higher shares of installed PV in the electricity mix.

“When it comes to PV and battery, this can be served by either a hybrid (meaning PV and battery) inverter or separate battery and PV inverter,” Kuepper continues. “Your batteries act as backup power when the grid has failed, and during a normal day, PV can provide power in a house and charge these batteries. This stored power can then be used during the night, which is what we call SCO.”

• Battery backup: This is purely a backup solution and is usually sized to make sure that your essential loads are up and running during load shedding and other power failures. Under the banner of pure battery backup, you have various options such as a UPS, a battery together with a charge controller, and then, of course, a battery and battery inverter. Of these, a battery with a good and reliable battery inverter is the most reliable solution.

• Battery and hybrid inverter: This is the same as the battery and battery inverter option, except consumers have an opportunity to install PV panels at a later stage and do not have to add the extra cost of a PV inverter, as it would be PV-ready.


In the current South African energy climate, this option sounds very enticing. It does, however, require careful planning and sizing of your system. You would require a large enough PV array to serve your daily loads and charge the batteries for use at night – and in turn, a large enough battery bank to serve the loads during the evenings, and possibly during daytime when there is not enough PV generation. There is of course the option to add a generator or to use the grid as backup.

Kuepper advises that a tailored approach will see various renewable energy solutions and products being recommended and made available. “Consult the experts, weigh up the options and also find a solution that not only meets your electricity consumption needs, but that is also financially viable – and always consider the long-term benefits, as certain products are designed to go the extra mile.”

Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Reliable access management for famous film location
Paxton Access Control & Identity Management Residential Estate (Industry)
The Royal Connaught Park features a private swimming pool, health and fitness suite, outdoor tennis court and onsite parking, with over 100 residents coming and going every day.

Smart opener for gates and garages
Smart Home Automation Access Control & Identity Management
The Smart Gate and Garage Opener allows consumers to control and monitor gates and garage doors that have already been fitted with automation devices via the Yale Home app on their smartphone.

Ring announces second generation indoor camera
Smart Home Automation Surveillance Residential Estate (Industry)
Introducing a removable manual privacy cover, Ring's latest indoor camera provides customers with increased privacy, control and peace of mind when it comes to home security.

Understanding the language of connectivity
Smart Home Automation
Having a better understanding of the available options can help you communicate your internet needs more effectively with a service provider. You don't need to be an expert on the topic, but having some insight can ensure you always stay connected.

Securing a luxurious estate
Access Control & Identity Management Residential Estate (Industry) Products & Solutions
Turnstar Systems recently partnered with Balwin Munyaka Residential Estate to secure the entrance to its Crystal Lagoon, ensuring only authorised residents and guests can access the site.

Body-worn evidence
Technews Publishing Forbatt SA Betatrac Telematic Solutions Secutel Technologies Surveillance Residential Estate (Industry) Products & Solutions
Body-worn cameras are no longer just a good idea or a luxury item; in fact, they are gaining popularity and finding use in various situations, one of these being in residential estates.

Integrating control rooms and response
WatchManager Integrated Solutions Residential Estate (Industry)
Control rooms have become a standard in large estates, and remote control rooms are finding a home even in smaller estates due to cost efficiencies and the increasing reliability of analytics and artificial intelligence.

Entrance security for residential buildings
Paxton Access Control & Identity Management Residential Estate (Industry) Products & Solutions
Home is where people should feel safe and relax. Installing a reliable access control system is vital to track and prevent non-residents from entering private areas.

Security without the skin
Alwinco Editor's Choice Security Services & Risk Management Residential Estate (Industry) Risk Management & Resilience
We all know about the layers of security required to form a comprehensive solution, but the layers go deeper than most consider. Andre Mundell dissects security in this article to start the journey into what is under the covers.

Touchless vehicle access control
Technews Publishing Techsolutions ZKTeco Impro Technologies Editor's Choice Access Control & Identity Management Residential Estate (Industry) Products & Solutions
RFID access for vehicles is a growing market, and many estates (residential and business) have opted for this approach to speed up the process of moving vehicles through access control points.