Choosing the right battery backup solution

Issue 1 2023 IT infrastructure

Load shedding, while not new for South Africans, has become more of a permanent fixture in our day-to-day lives. In response, more backup power solutions have become available to individuals, homeowners and businesses. From generators to inverters and solar, there are a variety of options on the market, but where does one start?

Matthew Hall.

Between lithium-ion batteries, milliampere hours and watts, there is a lot of jargon to sort through. However, there are some easy tips and tricks that can help you choose the right backup power setup for what you need.

[sub head] Battery basics

When it comes to backup power solutions, there are a number of rechargeable batteries available. The difference lies in their capacity, life span, charging time and price.

The lead battery is the most common rechargeable battery available today. The reason for this is that the technology, while old, is tried and tested, and therefore very reliable. It is also the most cost effective. However, it does have a shorter lifecycle than other batteries and it is recommended by manufacturers that you only discharge 50% of its capacity. Lead batteries also take longer to charge uninterrupted.

Lithium-ion batteries are a newer type of battery technology that we see in lots of devices like smartphones, laptops and some cordless appliances. They have a longer lifecycle, are lighter than lead, can discharge up to 80% of their capacity and have a faster charging time. This, however, does mean that lithium-ion can be significantly more expensive than lead batteries.

What is critical vs. what is a nice-to-have?

When it comes to deciding what battery backup solution a home or business needs, the nice-to-have. With this in mind, you can make the right choice based on your essential needs.

It is important to remember that while batteries have come a long way, some have limitations and not all rechargeable batteries can support appliances with a heating element. Appliances like kettles, microwaves and ovens as well as geysers are not suitable for all battery backup systems. These unfortunately drain too much power too quickly and can damage the batteries, reducing their lifecycle and capacity. So, before choosing a system, double check the capabilities of the batteries in the unit.

Do some calculations

With your list in hand, it is a matter of adding up the watts on each essential device to get an idea of the estimated capacity needed. This maximum watt figure is found on the back of each device, or the corresponding adapter.

For example, if you are working from home and need a laptop (65 watts), Wi-Fi modem (5.4 watts), monitor (15 watts) and a fully charged cell phone (12 watts), the total is 97.5 watts. Multiply this by three to reach the watt-hours, which would total 292.2 watt-hours in this case.

This calculation will help determine which backup power solution will be the best fit and ensures a bit of additional capacity cushioning should your load shedding block go on longer than expected. Just keep in mind that the more electronics you add to the system, the faster it will drain the batteries and the more time they will need to charge between load shedding blocks.

Match your needs to the right solution

In today’s modern world, uninterrupted internet access is non-negotiable. Powering a Wi-Fi network at home or in a small office can easily be done with a small plug-and-play UPS. These are hardly bigger than the modem itself and can ensure you remain connected for a few hours. Many also have the option of charging devices like smartphones or tablets. In the case of the RCT MegaPower Lithium UPS, you can plug in your modem and charge two devices.

If you are looking to power more than just a Wi-Fi, a plug-and-play inverter trolley is a great option for a home office or small business. This would allow you to run your internet, a couple laptops and monitors with some capacity leftover for charging smartphones and other devices. At the end of the workday, swap the laptops and monitors for your smart TV and decoder to catch up on the latest series and movies. The RCT MegaPower Inverter Trolley would make for a fuss-free fit in this environment.

For some businesses, greater capacity and output is needed. Many repair service businesses are dependent on clients having power in their homes and if you are visiting multiple clients in various areas during the day, you are at the mercy of each area’s load shedding schedule. Ensuring adequate backup power can be done with the likes of a generator, but also an inverter like the EcoFlow DELTA. This particular inverter can run power tools like circular saws, drills and even a welding machine. If you are not in the power tools game, but need something to run your business’s fridges and freezers, the EcoFlow can step in and power a 150-watt fridge for seven to ten hours.

There are of course a host of options for homes and businesses, but you have to ask yourself what is essential for your day-to-day. Knowing exactly what you need to get through a day of load shedding is an important starting point for finding the right battery capacity and solution.

For more information contact Rectron, +27 11 203 1000,

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