Back-up power solutions for your home

If load-shedding makes you want to blow a fuse, you’re not alone. But before you rush out and buy an alternative power source, it’s important to do your research...

According to Shafeeqah Isaacs, head of financial education at personal loan specialists DirectAxis, there has been an increase in enquiries regarding finance for standby or back-up power systems.

Before taking the plunge, however, he urges clients to make sure their preferred solution is fit-for-purpose, affordable and doesn’t break any laws or regulations. 

Questions to ask yourself include: do you want to go completely off-grid or just run lights and a TV when the power goes out? Also: have you replaced your lights with LEDs and made sure your geyser is insulated and ideally on a timer? Steps like these will reduce your power consumption and save you money; they may also reduce your need for a fancy (read: costly) back-up system.

So what are your standby power options?

Generators are the most common solution, but they come with running and maintenance costs. Before buying one, ask the following: 

  • Does it match your requirements? Overloading could inhibit performance or shorten the life of the generator.
    •  Is the generator SABS approved?
    •  What does it cost to run and maintain?
    •  Where will you install it? Generators can be noisy and need to be well ventilated. 
    •  Are there installation costs?
    •  Does a generator comply with your household?

You also need to make sure you aren’t breaking the law in respect of installation and noise. Standby generators, which are used to run a few appliances, generally don’t need to be wired into the household circuit and consequently don’t need to be installed by a professional electrician. 

Back-up generators, which kick in when the mains power goes down, do need to be installed by a professional and must not break any municipal bylaws, which differ from municipality to municipality. 

The other regulations cover the noise generators make – if yours is too loud, you can incur a fine.

Another increasingly popular solution are solar systems. As technology improves, they are becoming more efficient and cost-effective. However, the batteries used to store the energy will need to be replaced at a high cost. And again, municipal regulations must be adhered to.

A third option is an uninterrupted power system (UPS) or inverter which utlises the energy stored in large batteries to run essential equipment for a few hours. Larger systems can power lights, TVs, modems and household alarm systems overnight.   

For tips on how to save electricity, click here.

Related Articles

Back to top button