Generators

Generators are relatively simple from the perspective of the user experience. A petrol or diesel engine powers the generator, essentially the more powerful (larger) the engine the more power that is supplied.

The benefits of a generator are;

  • Long run time
  • Refuel when required – down time is minimal
  • A large quantity of power

The downside;

  • Fuel costs money
  • Servicing and maintenance
  • Noise
What if you live in a complex? There is a certain type of generator called an inverter generator. This is a silent running generator with an auto throttle allowing the generator to throttle down when the load has decreased. While it may say “silent” the average running noise will be the equivalent of a noisy restaurant.  At night this option may be too noisy for a complex however during the day it is a viable option.
Cost
Generators are much cheaper then inverters but require more maintenance.
Inverters
Inverters essentially take a 12volt or 24 volts (2 12 volts in series) and invert the power to SA standard voltage (220). Inverters are generally completely silent however they are difficult to keep running for extended periods of time. Inverters require batteries. Under heavy load, batteries run flat quickly. If you want your system to last for more than 4 hours you will need a huge stack of batteries (how many exactly? That all depends on your load).
Inverter load and battery capacity are two different things. An inverter will be rated for a certain amount of load – this is normally measured in watts. A 600-watt inverter can power electronic equipment up to total usage of 600watts. If you want that unit to stay online for a long period of time you will need large batteries. 200amp hours will only run the unit for a few hours.
Cost considerations – inverters are cheaper than generators however the batteries are not. The batteries also only last a few years so it is ideal to purchase a system that is within your budget and is planned for over a period of time.
Ups
Basically the same as an inverter but designed mainly for a short duration.
Can you get more batteries? Yes but the chargers are small which means they take a long time to recharge.
Solar and other renewables
Not a power backup solution.
A power supplement solution
Batteries catch extra power and power during power outages.
Is the cost of extra solar power being captured worth the cost of the batteries?
The TechThrive solution
We’ve engineered our own solution designed for powering just internet routers.
It’s designed with simplicity in mind.
1 standard gate motor battery
2 standard router adaptors at 12v to match standard router supply
Run time should last more than 4 hours but as with batteries, it depends entirely on load. Lower loads increase the run time substantially.
General Complex issues
During a power outage, the electric fence and radio broadcast system go down. The gate has a limited supply
The gate intercom has a limited supply.
The guard house uses a small amount of power.
The electric fence leaves the complex vulnerable.
When the radio is down the guards are unable to contact an outside response unit making the complex even more vulnerable. Load shedding earlier this year proved that cell coverage is limited so relying on the guards using their cell phones during an emergency may prove ineffective.
Recommendations
There are silent running generators available. A small unit will be satisfactory. I recommend a generator be placed behind the guard house. It doesn’t need to be expensive – guards can be given procedures on how to start it. It should be connected into the mains using a generator switch. I recommend a generator for a number of reasons. Complex security is critical and when we have extended power outages or outages at night our complex is vulnerable. The unit will be silent enough to not disturb residents. Generators will continue running indefinitely.
A battery pack and inverter will be more expensive but extended outages will eventually cause batteries to run flat.
Recommendations for residents
Inverter generators have a noise level equivalent to a noisy restaurant. Large diesel generators have noise levels of double that!
Inverters won’t do well with heating, cooling or motorised devices. Printers, for example, are very power hungry.
We believe offering a small generator option to residents during the day is acceptable especially if it is inside noise levels and operated at reasonable times. I believe the complex already has satisfactory rules with regard to noise and allowed times so nothing new needs to be catered for.
Inverters are another great option. When going this route the more batteries you have the longer your load. If you only require your internet to be online then I recommend the solution my company built.
A ups isn’t a great option unless you need it for a short period to shut down your Pc. Most will also notice the beeping.