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Frequently Asked Questions

Common questions asked by people who are interested in setting up their own backup battery and solar system.

What is an inverter and how does it work?

An inverter is a device that converts AC (alternating current) power supply into DC (direct current) and vice versa. It can convert conventional residential electricity into the power used by batteries to charge and back again when conventional electricity output is required from the batteries.

How is an inverter set up?

Setting up an inverter system is simple. Connect one or more batteries to the inverter and plug them into a power outlet. While a normal electricity supply is available, the inverter charges the battery until it is fully charged. When the electricity supply is interrupted, the inverter switches to output mode, drawing power from the batteries, converting it to AC, and providing electricity through the built-in plug points in the inverter.

What are the different types of inverters?

Inverters typically offer either a pure or modified sine wave supply. A pure sine wave device offers less electrical interference, making it perfect for sensitive electronics and appliances. However, pure sine wave inverters are more expensive than modified sine wave devices, so it’s important to investigate the items you wish to power from your inverter before making a decision.

What are the advantages of an inverter system?

Inverter systems are quiet, emit no fumes, and can be used indoors. They are often the most effective option for people living in sectional title complexes and under homeowners’ associations that do not allow generators.

What are the disadvantages of an inverter system?

Inverter systems are limited by the capacity of the battery storage. Once the battery runs out, you have to wait for the normal electricity supply to be restored to recharge the batteries.

What size inverter do I need?

To determine the size of the inverter that you need, make a note of the watt requirements of all the items you would like to run off your inverter system and add them up (1,000 watts = 1 kW). Then, consider how long you would like these items to be powered by your inverter system. With this information, you will know how much power output will be required from your inverter and the capacity requirements for your batteries. Ideally, your requirements should be no more than 75% of your inverter and battery bank’s capacity to prevent overloading.

For more information, follow our Five Steps to Plan for Backup Battery & Solar article.

What are the different types of batteries that can be used with an inverter system?

Inverter systems can be used with different types of batteries, including lead-acid, lithium-ion, and nickel-cadmium. The type of battery you choose will depend on your specific needs and budget.

Can an inverter system be used to power an entire house or only specific appliances?

Inverter systems can be used to power specific appliances or an entire house, depending on the size and capacity of the system. It’s important to consider your power needs and the capacity of the inverter and batteries when deciding on the scope of the system.

How long do batteries typically last in an inverter system?

The lifespan of batteries in an inverter system depends on several factors, including the type of battery, how often they are used, and how well they are maintained. On average, lead-acid batteries last between 3-5 years, while lithium-ion batteries can last up to 10 years.

How often do batteries need to be replaced in an inverter system?

Batteries in an inverter system typically need to be replaced every few years, depending on their type and usage. It’s important to monitor the performance of your batteries and replace them when they start to lose their capacity.

Can an inverter system be used as a backup power source during power outages?

Yes, an inverter system can be used as a backup power source during power outages. When the normal electricity supply is interrupted, the inverter switches to output mode, drawing power from the batteries and providing electricity through the built-in plug points in the inverter.

What are the maintenance requirements for an inverter system?

The maintenance requirements for an inverter system depend on the type and model of the system. Generally, it’s important to keep the system clean and free from dust and debris, check the battery levels regularly, and perform any recommended maintenance tasks as outlined in the user manual.

Can an inverter system be used in conjunction with solar panels or other renewable energy sources?

Yes, an inverter system can be used in conjunction with solar panels or other renewable energy sources to provide clean and sustainable energy. This is often referred to as a hybrid or off-grid system.

What are the safety considerations when using an inverter system?

When using an inverter system, it’s important to follow all safety guidelines and precautions as outlined in the user manual. This may include proper grounding, using appropriate cables and connectors, and avoiding overloading the system.

Are there any government incentives available for installing an inverter/ solar system?

As of 2023, a tax incentive has been announced for South Africans to encourage renewable energy production in the country. Read more about it here.

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