ACDC Express

The Pros and Cons of Backup Power Systems in Winter

Winter is here and South Africa doesn’t like doing anything by halves! With freezing temperatures and a rainy season for some of the country, how does one pick a backup power system that can cope?

Winter’s chill has us firmly in its grasp, and load shedding isn’t going away soon. A backup solution probably looks pretty tempting to help keep the cold outside the home. But is a backup solution a perfect fix for the winter blues? We look at the pros and cons of backup solutions during winter.

The pros of backup power

The biggest benefit of backup power is the ability to continue your life during load shedding. Charging your devices, keeping the Wi-Fi on, watching a TV show or having enough light to read by or do homework, every chore or activity that can still be done during load shedding makes the whole process so much less disruptive and stressful. 

Keeping the lights on can also help to keep your property safe and secure, read more about it here [LINK to blog, Powered up for Winter Artwork 6]. In summary, having lights on outdoors makes the space a lot safer for those using it, and it deters criminals who prefer to work undisturbed and unseen.

Due to how backup power systems work, they ensure that you have a smaller chance of an electrical surge entering your other appliances from an external source, such as a surge caused by the load shedding starting or ending. The large inverters are already ensuring that DC power is converted to clean, usable AC, making them a line of defence against the hidden expense of replacing appliances damaged by power surges. Power surges can also lead to fires, and nobody wants a surprise fire in their home.

The cons of alternate power generation in winter

Solar power, as the name so handily suggests, relies on sunshine. While South Africa is generally sunny with an abundance of solar radiation available, winter reduces the stats somewhat. Shorter days mean less time to catch those rays, and if you live in the Western Cape, the rainy season adds significant cloud cover too. If your system normally uses close to your summer solar energy production, there will be a shortfall in winter and it should be considered when sizing your system.

One of the big drawbacks for backup power systems is the price, and how it increases with battery capacity and throughput. It is worth looking at what your goals are: are you trying to make load shedding easier to deal with, or do you want to live as if load shedding doesn’t exist? Getting a backup system that can keep a few lights, the router, and your TV on is one thing… but it is a completely different bracket if you want to have a heater and a kettle running. By planning what you really need a system to do for your home or business you can make decisions that suit your budget. Could you get a gas space heater or does it have to be the airconditioning system?

Depending on where you live, a backup generator might not be the best option for a chilly winter. While petrol has a fairly low freezing point, diesel’s freezing point is much higher. Even if the diesel doesn’t freeze over it can start to gel due to the cold. This is called diesel clouding, which is a result of the paraffin returning to a wax state, which can clog up filters and injectors. If you experience very low temperatures overnight, you might not want a diesel generator as your backup power solution! 

The takeaway

Load shedding is expensive and draining and it has added a lot of complexity to our lives. While there are quite a few things to think about when looking for a backup power solution, your nearest electrician is always happy to help, and so are we! Visit your nearest ACDC Express and ask to speak to a product expert. Or read more of the articles on our website, with topics ranging from the best batteries for your needs, or ways to save money while staying warm.

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