Power to all the people – Inverter systems for smaller installations

Inus Dreckmeyr

Energy supply will continue to cause chaos in our homes and places of work. To alleviate this, smaller business and home users can make an investment in solutions that improve the reliability of energy supply to their critical devices such as lights, computers, cell chargers and networking equipment. Enabling them to continue with their lives even when the power utility providers fail us.

Netshield has expanded its inverter range to include cost effective energy solutions, but the company cautions that critical to this is planning and understanding exactly what your specific energy objectives are. To start you must ask – what do I really need to keep on when my utility supply fails? Secondly, how long do I need to keep these devices powered for? Lastly, consider the expansion of your system by adding renewable solar panels to reduce your dependency even further and save on your utility bills.

“Alternative energy backup and supply sources can be costly which has a lot to do with why small businesses, SOHO offices and even homes are often the hardest hit when the power goes out, because they simply don’t think they can afford it,” says Inus Dreckmeyr, CEO at Netshield South Africa. “Nothing could be further from the truth, a 3KVA Inverter system like the one we are offering can help to power critical systems and keep the lights on without breaking the bank.”

Alternative energy systems have until recently come at an exorbitant cost, but as the global demand for clean energy grows in popularity, so are the costs coming down. The butterfly effect is that here in South Africa where loadshedding and rolling blackouts are the norm, we are starting to reap the benefits of more affordable quality energy solutions.

“At Netshield we have developed a smaller bundled inverter solution for customers who don’t have high volume energy requirements, but simply need to power a small office or a home. Our 3KVA and smaller inverter systems require less batteries, come in smaller battery cabinets and have direct integration into a solar array or solar panels. It is one of the most cost-effective ways by which to make use of alternative energy and supports multiple applications such as grid assisted, and generator assisted modes,” adds Dreckmeyr.

Because the units have a built-in solar interface, or MPPT, a customer doesn’t have to rely on only the grid or a generator to charge its batteries, but by directly connecting the panels to the unit you can rely on solar too. This helps to dramatically bring down the total cost of ownership in the long-term by reducing the reliance on the power utility and/or the recurring the cost of fuel to run a generator. The Netshield solution can be bought outright or combined with an installation fee, where its engineers will help you scope, install and deploy the system in line with your exact requirements.

The system is perfect for customers who have identified their critical power needs and done the maths on what they need to run when the power is off and what they can live without. Smaller inverter systems are best used for critical applications, such as lights, computers and smaller appliances. It simply doesn’t make sense to try and run a kettle, washing machine and energy inefficient lighting on them – as this is where the cost lies. Dreckmeyr says that energy smart consumers boil water on gas, use solar geysers, have switched to LED lighting and have already purchased energy efficient appliances, making them ideal candidates for this system.

In fact, there is no better time than now to make a checklist of all of your appliances and create a refresh cycle for each one and identify an energy efficient alternative. Need to replace a lightbulb? Use an LED one. Fridge gone on the blink? Rather opt for an energy smart replacement. You will greatly optimise the capital layout of your alternative energy system if you follow this approach.

The inverters, while smaller in size and scope are able to run in these applications:

  • Solar interactive mode – The batteries and the load are charged by the solar panels as the primary power source (when sun is available) and when the solar provenance and battery power runs out, the system automatically switches to the grid.
  • Grid Assisted – This is a hybrid mode and will use your solar panels and the grid connection to charge the batteries. It will always seek out the renewable feed first and switch to the grid when there is no sun, or run off the batteries when there is no sun or utility power available. Once either the sun or grid returns, the batteries and load will be fed and recharged.
  • Generator Assisted mode – This mode is applicable if you have no grid power but rely solely on solar panels. In the event that the solar can’t charge your batteries, or the charge runs out, it will charge the batteries from a generator and automatically switch back over to renewable when fully charged.

“The true benefit of alternate energy supplies comes into play when consumption, usage and need is carefully and methodically calculated. Some smaller businesses have already invested in inverter systems, but have been let down by their ability, simply because the calculations have not been done properly. We work with our customers to develop a solution that matches their environment, we also advise them as to what they can and shouldn’t run on the system, as well as how to best scale the system later if their needs grow.

“With our smaller 3KVA Inverter systems, we believe we are providing customers with a plug-and-have-energy solution that is cost effective, can scale, and will provide them a qualified return on investment in the future as they lessen their dependence on the Eskom grid,” ends Dreckmeyr.