Overview

By now everyone in South Africa should have accepted the fact that we will have to live with Load Shedding for an unknown period of time. The reason for this is simply that our Power Plants are all old and cannot supply in the demand of the current development rate in the country. More and more Houses and Businesses are being build but the old Power Plants stay the same in condition and quantity. Eskom applied for a 25% raise in price for electricity in June 2015, but the National Energy Regulator rejected the application as South African citizens are already suffering from high prices like petrol, food and many other circumstances. The natural reaction to this is MORE LOAD SHEDDING. Whether we like it or not.


How do we live without Electricity?

This is not as difficult as it may sound. Modern technology can take out most of the un comfortability of Load Shedding. We can make use of many alternatives to Eskom.


However there is some appliances that is very difficult but not impossible to use during Load Shedding. Every single electrical device in your home or business can be powered by alternative energy. It is very price dependant, but still possible. Lets get Technical now. I will point out a few facts that will make you realize that with a small investment life can be much easier during Load Shedding.



Devices that is expensive to power without Eskom:


Geyser

A geyser use about 3000 watt to heat up the water. To heat up water from room temperature to 60 deg celsius take about 90 minutes. To power a geyser with alternative energy we are left with 2 choices. Install a solar geyser for more or less R 20 000 or install a Gas Geyser at about R 4 000. On both mentioned alternative continuous hot water is not guaranteed. Luckily load shedding lasts normally for only 2 hours and it would not affect us during Load Shedding times.


Kettle

A kettle use 1200 watt of electricity. This is easy to bypass using a cheap gas stove or gas primus. Various options are available from leading Supermarkets and Hardware Stores. It will cost you anything from R 200 - R4500.


Refrigerator/Freezer/Aircon Systems

Now we come to the most difficult of all appliances to energise without Eskom. The reason for this is that the compressor inside the appliance need about 3000 watt to start up. After that it will use only 250 watt to keep running. The other problem is that it needs a special type of inverter. They call it a Pure Sine wave Inverter. This is an very expensive device because you need a minimum of 6000 watt to get it to power your refrigerator properly.The entry level inverter Price start from R 8000 alone. That is without batteries. You can run it from a Petrol or Diesel Generator, but again this is very pricey as the normal medium portable Generators that can supply up to 7500 watt will start up the compressor, but due to the frequency of the generator you will find that although the compressor is running the refrigerator will cool at only 10% of its cooling capacity, which will make it a useless setup. If this becomes a real problem I suggest to buy a Bosch Solar refrigerator for about R 15 000 that was designed to run from batteries. They work perfect when connected to a 12 V Deep Cycle Battery Bank. I believe that you still get Gas refrigerator, but not sure where to get them from. But luckily we dont really need a refrigerator for 2 hours of Load Shedding.


Workshop Tools

To run a small workshop with 1 Inverter Welding Machine, Grinders, Drilling Machine and Compressor is fairly easy. A Petrol or Diesel Generator of 6500 Watt is normally more than enough to keep your business running. Generators are sold at about R 6000 for a good one.


Devices that is less expensive to power without Eskom


At Home:


Computer or Laptop 250W

LCD TV 220W

DSTV Decoder 50W

LED Lights 100W


If you add up all above you get 620 Watts. This means that you have to buy a 1000 Watt inverter.


To calculate the size of the batteries 620 Watts for 3 hours equals 1860. This is the wattage that your system will use in 3 hours of Load Shedding. But now batteries are not rated in Watts so we will have to calculate again. 1860 watt equals 52 Amp. So you need to buy a 102 A/h Deep Cycle Battery. This means that you will have power for 3 hours only.


Now we need something to charge the battery when Eskom become available. Remember that it is important to recharge the battery as quick as possible so make sure you buy a charger with a charging rate of at least 6 A/h. Be carefull not to buy the cheap chargers from spares shops. They were designed to charge car batteries quickly and cannot be left to charge your Deep Cycle Battery permanently. This will overcharge the battery and it will eventually get damaged and become useless. You also get special trickle chargers which were designed to charge at full rate and then switch of when the battery is full and switch on again when power is drained from the battery, obviously more expensive but the right tool for the job.


For Small Businesses.


It is very important for any business to trade for the maximum working hours per day. For large businesses like Factories, Restaurants, Filling Stations etc. with a high electricity demand I suggest to invest in installing a proper diesel Generator to fit the needs of your individual demand. This may be expensive but a very good investment on the long run.


For small businesses like DVD Shops, Small Cafe's with lots of customers through the shop constantly it is very important to have lights in the shop during Load Shedding, because shoplifters normally take advantage of the darkness while you are busy with your calculator to help customers because your cash register is not working. Shop Owners also loose sales as lots of people pay with their Debit or Credit cards and your Speedpoint is not working.


The Solution for this is quite simple.


Cash Register 150W

Speedpoint 50W

LED Floodlights x 2 20W


Together 220W

Now we only need a 500W inverter and a 60A/h battery. Add a 5A/h trickle charger and you are back in business while Load Shedding is active.


I have a 500W system with built-in charger available for R 2950 including 2 x 10 Watt LED Floodlights, 60 A/h Deep Cycle Battery.


For any additional information feel free to contact me on 061 373 5854 or send me an email. I am on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal if you want me to install a system in your shop.