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Thank you for the great forum, Safe Driving over the weekend. Sincerely Jason
Richard Mackay

Power outages

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23 minutes ago, Jaco de Jongh said:

For most of the active guys here the lights dont go out anymore.. 

I was about to say that LOL.

With first a decent inverter with batteries and now a full hybrid solution, it's been about 4 years since we had to deal with total darkness.

The inverter only backed up part of the house. The biggest problem for me was that our garage door wouldn't open unless you got inside and opened manually. This was solved by getting a door motor with battery backup.

I've been chipping away at this for 3 for 4 years now. With our current system and an all gas stove we sometimes don't even know there's a power outage.

Edited by Bobster
correction

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Started 2013 with 200 watt panel , 2 * Deltec 105ah batteries , 20 A PWM charge controller and 600 watt inverter . Today we are offgrid and no loadsheading since 2015 . Then whenever the power does go off we get a SMS  . Is your power off ???

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10 hours ago, Jaco de Jongh said:

For most of the active guys here the lights dont go out anymore.. 

Perhaps, but there should be place for everyone trying to become less dependent on the grid.

The number of 'active' guys should be happy with the discussions since they dominate the forum. What about the guy (who doesn't have the money required) who wants a simple system to mitigate power outages?  

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23 hours ago, Richard Mackay said:

When the lights go out what do you miss the most?

being one of the only ones still on, and me thinks that makes me a target, so have helped a few neighbors out, so there are more of us off grid.....

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46 minutes ago, Richard Mackay said:

The number of 'active' guys should be happy with the discussions since they dominate the forum. What about the guy (who doesn't have the money required) who wants a simple system to mitigate power outages? 

I just found my new years resolution thanks to you. 

In 2020 I want to learn the true meaning of English so that I can understand statements like the one above. 

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I started out many years back with a couple of 100Ah batteries and a UPS and I thought I was set for life. Then the batteries died and almost leaked acid into the kitchen cupboard I had installed them in. And then I asked myself if I should go and buy another couple of batteries.. (How much did you say!!??..)

So I dialed out and looked for something with a better return on investment..

Edited by Richard Mackay

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On 2019/12/30 at 8:28 PM, Richard Mackay said:

When the lights go out what do you miss the most?

To be honest, I think what I would miss most (If the lights go out at my place) is my coms, a link to the outside world. Luckily for now, my ISP is on a backup supply as well, so even during a load shed or power outage I can still go about my normal PC business. 

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Posted (edited)

There are kits available for Lights,TV's,Routers only (modified sinewave inverters). I started with the 1200w model in my house and it manage to keep the lights,tv's,internet up for about 8hours +,they work well. There are some models with small external MPPT controller is you want to add a few panels

https://www.builders.co.za/Electrical/Inverters-%26-Solar-Energy/Inverters/Ellies-Power-Inverter-DC-600w-1000va-12v/p/000000000000395575?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI7da3iuLh5gIVhuh3Ch28NQjhEAQYAyABEgK5t_D_BwE

https://www.builders.co.za/Electrical/Inverters-%26-Solar-Energy/Inverters/Ellies-Power-Inverter-DC-1200w-2000va-24v/p/000000000000395576?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI7da3iuLh5gIVhuh3Ch28NQjhEAQYASABEgJ4pvD_BwE

 

FYI: I still have it and use it as a mobile power source like when going on holiday,fishing,etc

Edited by Quat Allah Alshams

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, Richard Mackay said:

Perhaps, but there should be place for everyone trying to become less dependent on the grid.

The number of 'active' guys should be happy with the discussions since they dominate the forum. What about the guy (who doesn't have the money required) who wants a simple system to mitigate power outages?  

Good point. I am amazed that so many of my friends and neighbours seem to have zero mitigation against load shedding. Going the full solar route is not that cheap, but for a lot less money you can mitigate to a degree. Say you could keep the beer cold, make tea or coffee, read a book and/or watch TV. Aren't you a lot better off?

Now you can get to that situation, for a 4-and-a-bit hours JHB load shed for a relatively modest outlay. You're not saving any money on electricity, but you are a lot better off when load shedding happens. 

I think the real problem is lack of information. Some of my friends were amazed when I bought an inverter and batteries. Such a thing exists? You don't have to fumble around in the dark and start it? They really were suprised.

So I think a lot more people would mitigate if they knew what their options were.

As with all things, a problem is knowing who to deal with. There are some people who know what they're doing and provide a good service, and there are others who have no idea.

Edited by Bobster

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Hi all, happy new year, hope it was a good one! 

Been following this post with interest, being from Zimbabwe where daily 17 plus hour power cuts are the norm now (although today we have had power the whole day, first time in over 5 months!).

What I have noticed is the majority of installers here have jumped on the lucrative solar bandwagon don't know their product very well at all and mislead customers as to what the system can do, generally not enough panels and batteries and no help on how to manage the energy that you have. 

I have managed with a pretty small system, although I need to add 2 more panels to get my batteries recharged during the day so I don't have to double cycle them by recharging on the grid at night. Have done this by becoming very energy conscious and using sonoffs on my fridges etc. 

Saying all that, what I miss the most when the power goes out is my fan! Mossies and heat!! 

 

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Nice topic.

I speak to a lot of my friends asking them there basic needs. Almost all of them have the following as there first priority. 

Few lights, TV, WiFi, Alarm/security. That is the bare minimum for most of them. Very few of them even mentioned a fridge.

For this application I guess a basic UPS like the ELLIES 24v 1400W unit would do good for a few hours to manage the average 2 hour load shedding we usually have. I started with the even smaller 12V 600W system.

I started 10 years ago with a solar geyser(after my electrical geyser started leaking), then few years later a gas stove(after electrical plates burnt). The last year I have been putting a lot of effort into my solar system.

The real newbie should know 1 thing I learned and that is to become independent or even just partially independent is a process and not an event. It takes time and homework with lots of planing. I have to say I loved each and every step of the process.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Dougiedanger said:

I have managed with a pretty small system, although I need to add 2 more panels to get my batteries recharged during the day so I don't have to double cycle them by recharging on the grid at night. Have done this by becoming very energy conscious and using sonoffs on my fridges etc. 

Indeed! I have become aware of devices which are marketed as solutions but are dubious. My pet dislike are 600VA UPS's. These devices are hopeless and to prove this I did a test:

I ran a test on a 12V (600VA) and a 24V (1kVA) UPS
The load I used is 120W (2 x 820 ohm resistors in parallel)

With no load on the output:
The single battery units draw 0.7A from the battery
The dual battery units draw 1.0 A from the batteries

With the load connected:
The single battery units draw 17A from the battery
The dual battery units draw 8A from the batteries

This is only for 20% of the claimed power capacity for the 600W UPS! 

The moral of the story is avoid those cheap & nasty single battery UPSs!

Edited by Richard Mackay

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On 2019/12/31 at 7:53 PM, Richard Mackay said:

What about the guy (who doesn't have the money required) who wants a simple system to mitigate power outages? 

This is a huge problem for most of us South Africans who have to pay 1st world prices with our 3rd world salary’s.

Hopefully there will be light at the end of the tunnel that even a small spaza shop can afford a economical viable solar system that can keep his fridge running.  

 

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Gerrie said:

This is a huge problem for most of us South Africans who have to pay 1st world prices with our 3rd world salary’s.

Hopefully there will be light at the end of the tunnel that even a small spaza shop can afford a economical viable solar system that can keep his fridge running.  

 

I am told that fridges are a big problem for the inverter/battery scenario, because the electronics will sustain them once they are running, but will likely trip when the compressor turns on. This is because of the power peak resulting from setting a motor into motion. So the system has to be sized for the sum of all possible spikes. Which means that even a spaza shop is going to require some heavy fire power. With newer domestic appliances this is more easily done - they are more efficient, use less power (my relatively new LG fridge/freezer provably uses less juice than the old Defy (I think) that we have in the granny flat), but the deep freezes and cold drink fridges that are used in shops are probably not A+. So it would cost a lot of money for our shop owner.

There's also the matter of how these motors will tolerate a modified square wave which is what many such inverters generate.

As @Dougiedanger notes, customers are usually not aware of such details and there are a lot of fly by night dealers who don't really understand the product.

Factor in people's propensity to buy on price...

Edited by Bobster
Properly make the point

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19 hours ago, Gerrie said:

This is a huge problem for most of us South Africans who have to pay 1st world prices with our 3rd world salary’s.

Hopefully there will be light at the end of the tunnel that even a small spaza shop can afford a economical viable solar system that can keep his fridge running.  

 

8 hours ago, Bobster said:

As @Dougiedanger notes, customers are usually not aware of such details and there are a lot of fly by night dealers who don't really understand the product.

A small partial solar system is great for a Solar DIY enthusiast. He will know what its for and what the system was designed for, but offering it to a client is a completely different ballgame and it hardly ever end good. It normally goes as follows.

  1. Customer want a system to keep the (Inside) lights on , have one fan thats running through the night and want to watch TV till 10, so after a lot of discussion everybody will agree and install - Load-shedding sorted.
  2. At the time of the installation all the lights on the dedicated circuit were LED's, but a month later you get a call, "The Batteries must be faulty, they go flat much quicker than before " - investigate and 2 globes pack up and were replaced with 2 old 100 watt incandescent that was still in the cupboard....
  3. Then another few months past and now outside lights must be added for security purposes, just come have a look, we only have LED spotlights outside, it cant be difficult. (The one client had a total of 680Watt of LED spotlights. 
  4. Then a feeder in the substation blows up as Eskom restores the power and the 4 hour load-shed turns into a 16 Hour power outage - Next Call.
  5. If we add a extra plug or run and extension, we can mos sommer plug the Fridge in as well, we have after all spend all this money so far and for that amount the system can run a fridge as well........... NOT SO??
  6. And the next call
  7. and the next
  8. and then the Aircon........................

And before you know it, because you wanted to help the client save some money, he is running around telling everybody, Solar is @%#$, you cant even run your fridge or outside lights, and you spend months doing damage control. 

Believe me, For a DIY project, please go ahead, but offering something like that to a client again, without a serious contract, never ever again..........

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7 hours ago, Jaco de Jongh said:

 

A small partial solar system is great for a Solar DIY enthusiast. He will know what its for and what the system was designed for, but offering it to a client is a completely different ballgame and it hardly ever end good. It normally goes as follows.

  1. Customer want a system to keep the (Inside) lights on , have one fan thats running through the night and want to watch TV till 10, so after a lot of discussion everybody will agree and install - Load-shedding sorted.
  2. At the time of the installation all the lights on the dedicated circuit were LED's, but a month later you get a call, "The Batteries must be faulty, they go flat much quicker than before " - investigate and 2 globes pack up and were replaced with 2 old 100 watt incandescent that was still in the cupboard....
  3. Then another few months past and now outside lights must be added for security purposes, just come have a look, we only have LED spotlights outside, it cant be difficult. (The one client had a total of 680Watt of LED spotlights. 
  4. Then a feeder in the substation blows up as Eskom restores the power and the 4 hour load-shed turns into a 16 Hour power outage - Next Call.
  5. If we add a extra plug or run and extension, we can mos sommer plug the Fridge in as well, we have after all spend all this money so far and for that amount the system can run a fridge as well........... NOT SO??
  6. And the next call
  7. and the next
  8. and then the Aircon........................

And before you know it, because you wanted to help the client save some money, he is running around telling everybody, Solar is @%#$, you cant even run your fridge or outside lights, and you spend months doing damage control. 

Believe me, For a DIY project, please go ahead, but offering something like that to a client again, without a serious contract, never ever again..........

Perfect example of what to expect.

I also do airconditioning. The moment a new client want me to fix an old aircon that is meant for the rubbish heap and he  tells me  "no man, I know it is old, just see what you can do " I do like Jaco and get out of there.

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Well when the lights go out, sods law has it at about meal time. If you want to mitigate the hunger of load shedding put a gas stove in . Get a few rechargeable lanterns, at least then you can read a book after a hot meal.

Or get some earplugs and a generator, possibly a good short term solution on a budget. Even those aren't cheap

But if you miss things like WIFI and a TV maybe a hairdryer,  then dig deep it could cost a heap of cash to go solar. If off grid is what's required then that's a whole different budget which will have an on going cost. Certainly the DIY part can save you a fair bit assuming you are willing and able.  Don't forget the school fees, cause mistakes are costly.  This forum is a fantastic source for information.

So " I just want to have a few lights and maybe the tv too" is a tricky thing to put a price on

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I used to ask people what their requirements were regarding backup power. These days I tell them specifically what I can/can't provide backup power for.

If  I hear " I just want to have a few lights and maybe the tv too"  I dial out and lose interest because it is a clear sign they haven't thought through this subject at all!

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4 hours ago, seant said:

meal time

Indeed. The basic needs start with lights, entertainment (TV, internet), but the very next thing I miss is coffee (and even a cheap percolator type thing needs a kilowatt or so). I also remember from the early baby days that infants don't care that the power is off (they are hungry NOW) and the ability to heat a small amount of prepared foot for exactly 17 seconds (but at 2kw) is incredibly useful. Anything more than this... and a small Cadac gas stove becomes much better bang for buck.

So in some ways industry has answered the question. These 2400W trolleys you can buy at the hardware stores... that's pretty much the thing you need for "a few lights and TV". IMHO anyway. Of course, I have some quality concerns with those thingies... but in principle they are not badly sized.

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6 minutes ago, plonkster said:

These 2400W trolleys you can buy at the hardware stores...

The only problem(s) I have experienced with them is.. its got 2 socket outlets, and normally 2 x 105AH Royals. Something like a Fridge(Again) or a big industrial fan must be plugged into the Second outlet. (Dont know why, but it is like that) and every few months to a year, when you replace the batteries for the client, they still ask, but why does the batteries not last, this thing was designed to give out 220V... ( I gave up trying to help, as I never supplied the units in the first place)

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