A Buyer's Guide To Selecting Best Inverter and Battery
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October 16, 2023

A Buyer’s Guide To Selecting Best Inverter

As South Africans grapple with yet another year of load shedding, many will be taking steps to become self-sufficient during power outages. To power your home during a blackout, one should consider purchasing an inverter. But what should you look for when selecting the best inverter?

Choosing the best inverter for your needs is crucial.

Here is our comprehensive buyer’s guide to help you make an informed choice when selecting the best inverter.

Determine Your Power Needs:

When purchasing an inverter, you will encounter various numbers. Look for the AC output power rating, which indicates how much you can power with your inverter simultaneously.

Every electronic device and appliance in your home has a power usage rating, measured in watts. Calculate the total power consumption of the appliances and devices you intend to run on the inverter during load shedding. For example, if you plan to use an oven, it can consume up to 2000 watts (2kw) ofpower.

If you purchase a 2kw inverter, you can only run the oven, and any additional load will trip the unit. This will help you choose the correct size (capacity) for your inverter. Be sure to consider both continuous and peak power ratings.

Types of Inverters:

There are primarily three types of inverters:

  • Pure Sine Wave Inverters: These provide clean and stable power similar to what you get from the grid. They are suitable for sensitive electronics and appliances.
  • Modified Sine Wave Inverters: These are more affordable but may not be suitable for all devices due to their waveform. They are not recommended for sensitive electronics.
  • Grid-Tied Inverters: These power systems can be charged by Eskom and feed excess energy back into the grid.
  • With inverter technology evolving quickly, it’s essential to examine how these systems can be charged.

Inverter Efficiency:

Check the efficiency rating of the inverter. Higher efficiency means less energy loss during the conversion process. Look for inverters with at least 90% efficiency or more. This is especially important if you want to get the most out of your batteries.

Input Voltage and Battery Compatibility:

Ensure that the inverter’s input voltage matches the voltage of your battery bank. Compatibility is essential for efficient operation. Have your battery bank information on hand as your inverter and batteries need to work together.

Battery Type:

Different inverters are designed for specific battery types, including lead-acid, lithium-ion, or deep-cycle batteries. Ensure your inverter is compatible with your battery type to avoid issues.

Safety Features:

Look for safety features such as overload protection, short-circuit protection, over-temperature protection, and surge protection. These features are crucial if you are still connected to the grid, as frequent and unstable power supply can damage your inverter and connected devices.

Remote Monitoring and Control:

Some inverters offer remote monitoring and control through smartphone apps or computer software. This adds convenience and allows you to access other features while tracking performance. This information enables you to make necessary adjustments.

Warranty and Support:

Inverters are a significant investment, and a longer warranty period typically indicates a more reliable product. Access to customer support and service centers is vital for troubleshooting and maintaining your system.

Price and Brand Reputation:

While price is a consideration, don’t compromise on quality. Research and choose a reputable brand with positive user reviews and a history of reliable products. Quality is paramount to avoid encountering issues with your inverter.

Scalability:

If you plan to expand your system in the future, select an inverter that allows for easy scalability by adding more units, solar panels, and batteries. The initial inverter investment is often the first step for those looking to go off-grid, so ensure your choice can accommodate your future plans.

Compliance:

With the City of Cape Town’s program encouraging residents to sell electricity back into the grid, ensure your inverter can handle the addition of an AMI/bi-directional meter if this is part of your plan to offset your system’s cost.

By carefully considering these factors, you can choose the best inverter that meets your power needs, budget, and long-term goals. This choice will also ensure you have access to reliable power for the future.