Its great to know you’re considering an inverter setup for your home office. Next up comes the avalanche of question you probably have. If you’re still having doubts about switching from a generator to an Inverter then checkout my earlier blog on why a generator is a bad idea for your business.
What is an Inverter Setup?
Although commonly referred to as an ‘inverter’, its actually called a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply). A UPS consists of a rectifier which converts Alternating Current (AC) to Direct Current (DC) for charging the batteries and an inverter which converts DC (from the batteries or your solar panel) to AC which is used by appliances.
A UPS setup consists of:
- The UPS itself
- Battery Management System (optional)
- Solar Charge Controller (optional unless you’re using solar panels)
- Solar Panel (optional)
The UPS converts current when charging or discharging the battery, the battery (power bank) stores the charge, the Battery Management System (if installed) ensures that all batteries charge and discharge at the same rate (for longer life span), the Solar Charge Controller regulates the voltage and current coming from the solar panels while the solar panel converts sun rays to DC.
You need at least the UPS and battery; other components can be added based on your needs. You can charge the batteries with either mains supply or solar panels.
What type of setup should I buy?
UPS setups have a Kilovolt Amperes (kVA) and Voltage (V) rating. The kVA gives you an idea of how much load (appliances) you can power at a time. Note that kVA is apparent power while Kilowatt (KW) is real power. The V rating tells you the minimum number of batteries you’ll need.
UPS batteries often come in 12v ratings so a 12v UPS require at least one 12v battery. 24v require at least two batteries etc. You can add more batteries but the total voltage (after series / parallel connection) must match the UPS’s voltage rating.
If you’re only looking to power small appliances like a PC, phone and standing fan then consider a Power Station. If you intend to power more or bigger appliances then consult an expert for a recommendation though an ideal home office should fall somewhere between 12V 0.8kVA and 24V 2.5kVA.
There’s a high tendency that you’ll want to run more appliances on your inverter later on so consider going for something a little higher than what you currently need.
I can’t afford a UPS setup, what can I do?
I agree that the total cost can be quite intimidating. In order to transition to a UPS setup, I usually give two advices:
- Start with a Power Station: A Power station can meet a lot of your needs at a fairly affordable price. You could start with one while you save towards the UPS setup.
- Buy in bits: If your target setup is a UPS and two batteries, you don’t have to buy all at a time. Yes, it might seem like a more expensive approach but the amount ‘you would have saved’ had you bought all at once is easily eclipsed by the reduced strain on your finances when you buy in bits.
Where can I setup the UPS?
You should pick a location with relatively little foot traffic, good ventilation, away from rain (or liquids) and away from direct sunlight (or other heat sources). Its also very important to have the battery terminals covered with a rubber protector to prevent electrocution.
I recommend you get a battery rack because it makes your setup consume less space. You should also insist that the setup’s wiring be neat and easily traceable.
Acquiring and setting up a UPS (inverter) for your home office is a journey, not a sprint. It requires careful planning and execution. Though there are many UPS and battery brands to pick from, I recommend you lean towards brands that have sound after-sales services and offices you can easily visit for technical assistance.