4 important tips for maximizing or making the most of your inverter set

An inverter set is one investment I would recommend to every techie. In my previous post on why every work-from-home techie should get an inverter set, I mentioned some advantages of using an inverter over a generator like;

  • Savings on fuel cost
  • Savings on constant generator maintenance & repairs
  • No noise
  • No dangerous exhaust fumes
  • Power anytime you need it

The last point is my favorite. One thing I love about an inverter is that you can store power for later use and have control over how you consume the stored power. While you might not be able to control when you’ll get mains power supply (NEPA as we commonly call it down here) to charge the batteries, an inverter can help you spread your stored power over the day.

I find my inverter especially useful when I have to work all night but have no mains power. On such days, a generator is not a suitable option as it would be extra loud and more expensive to run all night. My inverter on the other hand only hums quietly, giving me just the power I need at no cost.

What are the components of an inverter set?

An inverter set consists primarily of the batteries / battery bank which stores power and the inverter which regulates the charging and discharging of the battery bank. You could have additional accessories like the equalizer, battery rack, battery case etc.

The first few months before and after you get your inverter set is often filled with questions, most pertinent being what inverter capacity and battery bank do I really need? To simplify this, the kVA rating of the inverter determines how many things you can put on at a time while the battery capacity determines how long you can run the current load for. In other words, larger kVA means you can put on more things at a time while a larger battery bank means the inverter can supply power for longer.

Whether you already own an inverter set or are seriously considering getting one, these four tips will enlighten you on how to get the most return on investment from your inverter set

1. Find out what you need and go for something a little higher

I strongly advise that you consult an inverter expert to run a couple of calculations in determining the ideal setup specs. If for example you plan to power only 2 TVs, 3 fans and 5 lights, I would -from experience- suggest that you go for something higher than what you need to power just these because chances are that once you begin to enjoy the benefits of the inverter, you’ll start adding more appliances which would result in shorter power time. Ultimately you’ll have to upgrade your setup; a move which might prove more expensive in the end.

2. Opt for energy saving appliances

Minimizing your consumption is key when using an inverter set and the first step to achieving this is opting for energy saving appliances. When purchasing or replacing appliances, opt for energy saving brands or models i.e those with relatively lower Watt ratings. The easiest change you can make is getting rid of those 60 – 100 Watt bulbs for 3 – 11 Watt energy saving bulbs; this would drop your load significantly. You should also pay close attention to the wattage of your fans, TVs and freezer as these are other appliances you’ll very likely make use of frequently.

3. Always power off stuff not in use

An inverter is like a Pay as you use system so if you want to ‘pay’ less (i.e consume less power) then you need to use less; part of this is to ensure you only power on / connect appliances in active use.  No more leaving the TV on and going in to take a nap. If nobody is in the room then why should the fan be on? Why put on electric bulbs in the day time? Its in your best interest to identify the power leakages (bad power consumption habits) and curb them.

4. Get an Equalizer / Battery Management System (BMS)

If your inverter uses batteries connected in series then you’ll run into a big problem over time. One which will speed up your battery bank’s wear and tear and likely damage the batteries altogether; uneven charging & discharging.

You see, no two batteries are exactly the same, batteries from the same manufacturer might just have closer readings but can’t have the same exact resistance. For this reason, the batteries will charge and discharge at different rates. How is this a problem?

Lets take two batteries for example, Battery A and B. When we start charging both, they’ll charge at slightly different rates so when A reaches 100%, B will probably still be at 92% . The problem here is that once either reaches 100%, charging stops altogether. This means we’ll have a fully charged A and partially charged B.

Now, when both are being discharged, you’ll also find that they’re not discharging at the same rate. Lets say they are both presumed empty at 10%. You could find that when B reaches 10%, A could still be at 30%. This means we’ll have a fully discharged B and a partially discharged A.

As the cycle continues, a few batteries will be subject to over charging while some to over discharging. This could eventually damage the batteries

Am I all good if I stick to these

Well, there are still a few other tweaks you could employ but these 4 are the easiest to execute and could have significant impact