4 Tips for Optimizing & Operating Backup Power Systems

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Between March 2022 and June 2023, there has been an astounding 349% increase in solar rooftop PV installations. Currently, households and businesses have harnessed a capacity of over 4,400MW in electricity generation.

This promising growth in the private sector’s energy production is projected to surpass Eskom’s generation fleet output by 2025. However, a note of caution arises for those who have invested in these systems, as their diligent use is imperative to avoid potential setbacks.

Many assume that their homes can be powered identically, even during power outages. Yet, this assumption holds risks, such as depleting the battery’s capacity or triggering the inverter to trip. Fortunately, this is where the integration of smart home technology can prove invaluable.

Here are 4 key ways this technology can safeguard backup power systems:

1. Distinguishing Essential and Non-Essential Loads: To avert darkness during power outages, prudent management of the backup system is vital to prevent overburdening the battery or overtaxing the inverter with multiple concurrent loads.

It necessitates a clear understanding of which loads are indispensable and which are expendable. Additionally, discerning when these loads should be activated during power interruptions is crucial. Achieving this requires knowledge of the energy consumption patterns of various appliances and the overall household energy usage.

Smart home devices endowed with monitoring capabilities offer insightful data that aid in informed decisions regarding load allocation during backup power scenarios. For instance, within my own household, I have strategically connected the security system, internet, entertainment setup, kettle, and bedroom lights.

This strategy ensures that essential loads like lighting remain operational during power disruptions while optimizing the backup power system’s potential. By staying mindful of energy consumption, an efficient backup power configuration can be achieved, minimizing costs.

2. Automating Load Management:

Real-time monitoring empowers users to gauge solar energy utilization and pinpoint consumption areas. In instances where connected devices are drawing excessive power, particularly during frequent power outages, smart home technology can autonomously deactivate energy-intensive devices. This equilibrium between solar energy generation and load consumption ensures a continuous power supply during challenging periods.

3. Strategic Energy Allocation: Preventing simultaneous activation of all essential loads is crucial to avert premature battery depletion or inverter malfunction. Employing smart plugs enables a setup where activating one device precludes the activation of others. Consequently, users can channel backup power to prioritize vital appliances and systems within their homes. For instance, my wife and I accord priority to powering the kettle, given our baby’s feeding needs, ensuring a ready supply of boiling water for formula.

4. Mitigating Voltage Fluctuations: Voltage dips often manifest upon power restoration following load shedding. These momentary drops in grid voltage can potentially compromise inverters. While most inverters are equipped with protective mechanisms, frequent power cycling or repeated voltage fluctuations during stabilization can undermine this safeguard. A smart controller empowers users to delay the reintroduction of grid power, thus preserving the longevity and effectiveness of the system.