Load shedding has recently returned to South Africa, which means that many people may need to purchase backup power solutions to keep important electronic equipment running during power outages.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the prevalence of working from home has increased and this requirement has been further exacerbated.
Having a laptop that can run on battery for several hours provides a possible backup option for work or entertainment, but many families may only be able to use a desktop computer.
In addition, gamers with desktop gaming PCs need a powerful backup system to extend gaming time during load shedding.
Uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) can provide enough power for several minutes of operation, although they cannot or are not intended to be used for multiple hours.
One of the best solutions on the market to provide backup power for this special situation is the so-called "power trolley"-it combines the inverter and battery system in a convenient, portable all-in-one solution.
These carts are equipped with larger, long-running batteries and work in a similar manner to UPS settings.
To determine which power trolley you need, you must calculate the power consumption of the PC.
Blue Nova Energy, a provider of backup power solutions in South Africa, explained that the power ratings and consumption of PCs can vary widely.
Although entry-level PC power supplies are rated between 200W and 250W, high-end PCs such as gaming desktops can be as high as 500W, depending on the exact components used.
To determine how much power your computer will consume, you must add up the power consumption of all components-including the motherboard, graphics card, memory, and storage devices.
There are several online power calculators available, including one from Newegg, which allows you to calculate the estimated power consumption for a specific desktop build.
The display also needs its own power supply, which is usually about 30W for a standard 17-inch LCD panel.
In addition, if you want the router to maintain power, this requires an additional 20W on average.
Therefore, the total power required by an entry-level computer can be calculated as follows: 250W + 30W + 20W = 300W.
If you want to keep this computer on during the entire load shedding period, the total standby capacity required for two hours will be 600Wh, while the four-hour load shedding period will require 1,200Wh (1.2kWh).
It should be noted that it is not ideal for the electric trolley battery to discharge more than a certain threshold.
Most of the batteries currently used in electric trolleys are lead-acid batteries, which means that although they can be cycled deeply, they are not the best choice.
Reusing batteries with a capacity of less than 50% will seriously affect their service life and may require you to replace them every few months.
For example, although a 1,200 VA inverter with a 100Ah battery can run at a 300W setting for four hours, it consumes 1,200W of power during this period.
Ideally, the solution should be able to provide twice the required capacity to achieve the best battery life.
The table below details backup power solutions for different levels of demand.
The red number indicates the maximum power-on time, and the green number indicates the recommended maximum use time.
Mercer 1200VA (720W) inverter + 100Ah battery
Ellies 2400VA (1,440W) UPS power inverter + 2 x 100Ah batteries
Standby power source Headline load reduction power trolley UPS
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