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Why a lot of inverter backup systems fail

By Afam Nnaji on July, 29 2008

Views: 3,906

It is no longer news that people have wasted money on inverter backup solutions that never delivered on their promises

What is shocking however is that the average person buying into this backup system don't bother to know how these things work, they just trust completely what service providers say.
Inverter based backup systems provide power supply when regular power fails by converting the DC in batteries to usable AC that powers appliances in the home or office. The batteries (or battery banks) are charged using battery chargers (may be inbuilt or dedicated chargers) utilizing regular power or generators.

Without going into any technical jargons it then means that for an inverter based backup system to perform properly the inverter must work well, the battery charger must work well, the batteries themselves must be of good quality (deep cycle capability preferable), the service provider must be honest with his/her recommendations while the client must be honest with the loads (appliances) that will be connected to the backup system.

In reality, these conditions must be met for the whole package to work well, failure of one or more of these conditions will ultimately lead to a failed backup project, wasted money, disappointed client and sad experience.

What I have found out from many discussions from people that have implemented failed or disappointing inverter backup systems in the past is that from the onset the service provider tells the client what he/she wants to her as that is the fastest way to guarantee payment especially when over rated promises are made just before implementing the backup system.

Another common problem is that the client will sometimes provide a list of appliances that may double or triple in the actual system just to make the loads appear smaller (as many assume that everything can just scale without problems. Without needing the services of a magician this is one sure route to shorter backup time as the backup time increases with lesser loads or for well planned systems lager battery banks.

How can a client decide on what to believe? The best route is for the client to insist on having contacts that he/she can call to find out how reliable previous installations done by the service provider are. Be careful not to be given numbers of colleagues or friends here.

Reliable inverter backup solutions exist even with the many bad stories here and there, all that is needed is for the prospective client to ask many questions (don't get tired of asking, its your money).

On the part of the service provider, understanding the technology or topology of different inverters or online UPS is critically important as failure to understand these things will only leave one at the mercy of the inverter manufacturer, charger manufacturer (if the inverter does not come with an integrated charger) and battery manufacturer.

A badly setup battery charger can fry a battery in no time just as sub standard batteries can become pretty useless in a few months as against years.

I have been using an inverter backup system for close to 3 years in my office (without any generator, not even a standby one) and I have been on inverter backup in my home (even though I have a small 950VA generator that I use once in say 1 week or 2 weeks in some cases) for at least 13 months.

So, every single entity in this whole business must be honest, from the client, the service provider to the manufacturers of the different components that make up a working backup system.

Unless you are generating your own electricity using solar panels/modules or small wind turbines the most cost effective alternative today to power failures remain well planned inverter backup systems.


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