Essential IT Solutions

Essential Backup Power Solutions

A backup power unit will keep your computer, point-of-sales system or TV and DSTV decoder running during electricity supply failures such as load shedding.

Backup power solutions range from small UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) units - that will give you time to save critical data - up to inverters with batteries that can supply emergency electricity for your whole business or home for hours.

UPS

Uninterruptible Power Supply

The most popular backup power solution for home and small office use is the "plug-and-play" UPS, which is available in varying sizes and capacities.

Depending on the model you choose, a UPS can power a computer for a few minutes (to save your data) or up to a few hours, allowing you to carry on working or playing or watching your favourite TV programme.

A UPS is very easy to use. Simply plug it into the wall plug and then plug your computer into the UPS and continue working or playing. The battery in the UPS will charge while the electricity is on. When the electricity goes off, your computer (or TV, DSTV, light, etc.) will be powered by the battery in the UPS.

Surge protection

Note: Manufacturer warranties DO NOT cover damage caused by power spikes!

Apart from providing power during electricity blackouts, a UPS protects your electrical equipment (computer, laptop, TV, Hi-Fi, fridge/freezer, microwave oven, or washing machine, etc.) against power surges.

Browse: UPS category

Inverter

An inverter changes direct current (DC) to alternating current. That means it takes the electricity current received from the grid (through your home or business electricity distribution box) to charge batteries to supply emergency backup power.

Difference between UPS and inverter

A UPS uses an built-in rectifier plus a small built-in inverter to convert the electricity output; the rectifier changes the AC current from the mains to DC current and then the built-in inverter converts it back to AC to power electrical equipment. A UPS typically has a built-in 7Ah battery. Inverters are used to charge 102Ah (or higher) batteries.

In other words, a UPS is used for short-term backup - a few minutes to an hour or two - of electrical equipment that do not use a lot of power, such as a computer, radio or TV. An inverter is used to charge powerful batteries able to power a whole house or business.

Note: inverters are stand-alone units; you will need to add batteries, preferably deep-cycle batteries. And inverter that includes batteries is an EPS (Emergency Power System).

Browse: Inverters category

EPS

An EPS (Emergency Power System) is an inverter with batteries included in one standalone unit.

An EPS provides emergency electrical power for a whole house, restaurant, shop or business or large parts thereof.

Unlike generators, an EPS is does not need fuel, is noiseless and is maintenance free.

EPS features

- High charging current for quick recharging
- Bypass mode allows for charge only
- Unlimited battery expansion to increase runtime
- UPS function for auto-changeover
- Automatic voltage regulator
- Brownout and surge protector
- Reverse polarity warning
- Alternative Manual Switch
- Generator compatible
- SNMP/HTTP remote management capability

We sell CyberPower EPS units, available in 3500VA/2450W, 5000VA/3500W and 7500VA/5250W configurations. All have Pure Sine Wave output and come with either 24V or 48V 200Ah batteries.

Browse the Backup Power category

What size UPS or inverter should I get?

First, keep in mind that anything with an element or electric motor uses a LOT of electricity:

Kettle, toaster, coffee maker, old fridge/freezer combo, microwave, stove, oven, hot plate, washing machine, geyzer, vacuum cleaner, clothing iron, hair dryer, heater, air conditioner, fish tank pump, swimming pool pump, drill, angle grinder, electric saw, double garage motor, gate motor. They typically use up to 1000W and more.

These items use less electricity:

Computer, laptop, TV, DSTV, radio, Hi-Fi, cellphone charger, printer, point-of-sales system, alarm clock and light bulbs (particularly low-energy and LED bulbs).

Modern standalone fridges and freezer are fairly energy efficient, using around 200W of electricity.

Usage example:

Your computer (and screen), Hi-Fi and fridge might be on all day but you'll use the kettle a few times for only a few minutes each time.

Now, look at the label on the appliances and devices that you would like to keep running during load shedding and total the Watts. For instance, computer 80W + screen 180W + stereo 50W + light 15W + fridge 400W = 725W.

You require an inverter with a rating at least 10% higher than that, thus an 800W inverter. If you'd also like to use the kettle, even just quickly, during the outage period, you will need an inverter with a rating of higher than 2000 Watts.

How long will the inverter battery last?

725W of usage on a fully-charged 24V 102Ah deep-cycle battery will last 1 hour and 24 minutes. Add another 102Ah battery to double the time.

On a single fully-chareged 24V 200Ah deep-cycle battery all those mentioned items will run for approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Plan your usage

Once you start using the oven and kettle (or any such high usage appliance) as well, the battery usage time drops quickly to as low as less than a few minutes. Of course, you can add more batteries to your inverter or EPS but the best advice is to always plan for the event of a power outage. Double-check the capacity of your emergency power system and connect only the items that you will need to use during an outage.

Inverter types

Inverters are available in varies types, measured by input voltage and output waves.

Input voltage varies from 12V up to hundreds of thousands of volts.

The 12V input inverter is typically used to recharge a 12V lead acid battery (or multiple batteries, depending on the model) from which smaller electronic consumer equipment (computer, TV, etc.) can source power.

24V is used on standard home and business electrical systems, such as ovens, fridges, industrial equipment and machinery.

For the record, cars use 12V batteries.

Output waves

Output waves are a little more complicated to grasp but basically it refers to the shape of the alternating current signal produced by a UPS or inverter.

The quality of the waveform output is usually reflected in the price of the inverter or UPS. Pure Sine Wave inverters are more expensive but delivers better performance.

Inverter installation

Smaller inverters are available as "plug-and-play" units, meaning you just plug it into your wall plug to make it work.

The more powerful inverters, however, are installed directly into the main electricity distribution box of your house or business. It is required by law (and insurance companies) to use a qualified electrician to install such inverters.

EPS installation may only be done by a qualified electrician.

Should you require it, we can put you in touch with electricians that are experienced in inverter installation.

Smart emergency power solutions

Backup power solutions for your business

There are a number of business sayings which hold truth: "Up to 87% of buying decisions are made at the point of purchase," and, "Getting a customer is easy - keeping them is more difficult."

As business owner, you'll know the value of on-the-spot service satisfaction. Don't let electricity-related failures destroy the hard hours you've put into your business; with an EPS you can keep your computers, point-of-sales system and machinery protected from surges and keep them operating during electricity failures.

For more information, please call Essential IT Solutions on 021 853 4790 or contact us online.