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Posted by on Thursday November 26, 2015 at 12:9:3:

Just because electricity supply is not yet enough to meet demand doesn't mean we don't like living in Nigeria as we've learnt to live with it and one of the ways we do so is by making use of power inverters.

One of the ways through which smart Nigerians extend their access to electricity supply is by making use of inverters connected to DC batteries. Power inverters tap energy from deep cycle batteries to which they have been connected to and charged by grid electricity so that they can provide continuous electricity when there is a power cut or blackout which is common in Nigeria.

Yes, Inverters are used in Nigeria because electricity supply is nothing near regular and many people rely on other ways of generating electricity since power companies cannot meet the current demand. As at 2015 however, the most popular way through which Nigerians generate their own electricity is through the use of power generators but there is a growing knowledge and adaptation of other forms of independent power generation such as through solar energy and Inverter power. Unlike power generators, an inverter power system is not noisy, air polluting or requires regular maintenance as mechanical power generators do.

The good thing about mechanical generators is that they can generate electricity on their own and without the need for anything else other than fuel and a working engine. An Inverter power system relies on electricity supply either from the sun, generator or grid electricity which is stores just like a power bank so that it can be used at a later time to meet demand.

Many Nigerians who use mechanical power generators know that it's more expensive generating electricity from them because of the cost of refueling and maintenance and all that makes it more expensive than using a power inverter system that can get cheaper electricity from power companies or the sun.

How does an Inverter power system really work? Well, first of all, it has to be connected to an electrical power source and be charged for a couple of ours after which it would be able to supply the stored electrical charges to devices that need them for a couple of hours too.

You can setup an inverter system that can power your TV, Cable decoder as well as electric fan using a basic inverter. The first thing you need to do is look at those electronic devices to determining their power requirements in Watts and total it. Let's assume that you need a total of 300 Watts to power those three devices already mentioned, then you just need to set an inverter power system that can provide that 300 Watts and a bit more and for that I'd say we go for around 400 Watts. If the inverter has an efficiency of 80% and is needed to supply at least 300 Watts, then we can calculate it's power rating using the formula: Power/efficiency => 300/0.8 => 375 VA so a 400 VA inverter would be ok.

The next step is to find a battery that can store and provide that 300 Watts for a number of required hours for e.g. 4 hrs. We can calculate the battery requirement for a 12 Volt battery using the formula => Ah = Watt*hrs/Volts => (300*4)/12 => 100 Ah. So, a 100 Ah deep cycle battery would be ok for the job but we can always go for a 200 Ah battery if we want to be able to store and provide more power.

If you are unable to find a 400 VA inverter in the market, one can always use a 900 VA inverter and connect it to a 200 Ah battery and that should be able to supply 300 Watts to our electrical devices for up to 8 hrs or so. As I said, the first thing is to calculate the total power your electronics needs before deciding on an inverter power system to setup.

A growing number of Nigerians now use Power inverters to act as a backup source o f power when NEPA or PHCN takes the light and for them, it has really proven to be useful. Many have long been disappointed by the epileptic power supply system in the country and are no longer thinking of what their country can do for them. A power sector that has for a long time being run as a public corporation by the government has not been able to meet Nigeria's demand for electricity and so people have found that it's better for them to save electricity when they are supplied in excess so that they can use it when it goes off and that's what Power inverters are really used for in Nigeria. Electricity supply from the power company can go off anytime and without any warning for up to 3 days or weeks and in some places for months.

Nigerians don't make plans for wedding receptions, birthday parties and other celebrations without thinking of a backup power plan. Relying on just grid electricity is no longer part of the equation as a standby generator or inverter power is becoming more like a tradition. A party held in Nigeria without a backup power plan is already considered bad planning and having a power inverter system is always a wise move.

If one is having an outdoor party for instance and needs to power devices like a microphone and sound address system, using a mechanical power generator may be a bit too noisy and distracting especially if it's an outdoor one that is located close to the event but if it's an inverter power system, the guests would hardly be affected by it as it's a quieter and more environmentally friendly power system which can power those devices you are using.

You don't want to be watching a nice show on TV and be cut off in the middle of it when the power company takes the light but for smart Nigerians who have already invested in a backup power plan like an inverter, they never get cut off but they keep watching it and for them, it feels as if the electricity never went off since they've setup a system that automatically switches when grid electricity goes off.

It's amazing and funny when you hear Nigerians shout "Up NEPA" when the lights come on because they are not used to getting power supply always as other people do in developed countries. So, it's a bit funny but also sad when you hear them scream so excitedly when the lights come on. It's only in a country where there is scarcity of electricity do people get so excited. Even many Nigerian leaders have been disappointed by NEPA when they visited public events and wanted to launch the occasion only to be faced with a power outage.

Smart Nigerians know that electricity supply will be unable to meet demand in the long term and that's why they've invested in alternative forms of power such as power inverter systems to be able to meet their needs. They understand that the way power companies work in Nigeria is through electricity sharing and this is like 3 hrs a day. They have to invest in Power banks to save electricity when supplied so that it can be used later on when power goes off.

Why are power inverters so beneficial? Well, one of the reasons is because of the low price of electricity in Nigeria being charged by the power companies. The electricity tariff is small and the monthly cost of using it is really lower than using other forms of power such as power generators. Some Nigerian spend over N40,000 a month just to buy fuel to power their generators but they don't pay up to a quarter of that when using grid electricity supplied by power companies. Using a power inverter system allows Nigerians to have access to electricity at about the same low price which makes it still cheaper than using mechanical generators.

A second benefit of using a power inverter in Nigeria is that it can be connected to solar energy. There is an abundant of sunlight in Nigeria and the installation of solar panels basically makes one have an independent source of electricity. Solar panels can be made to transfer their electric chargers to a power inverter system so that it can be stored in a battery for later use by the inverter and electronic devices. So, apart from being able to be connected to low cost grid electricity, a power inverter system can also be connected to solar energy with or without being connected to grid electricity.

A third reason I think some Nigerians like using Power inverters is because they cause little or no air pollution. They may emit some gases and that's why they should normally be kept in a well ventilated place and way from people but they emit less dangerous pollution than mechanical power generators. Power generators give out a lot of oxides that are dangerous to humans and Nigerian newspapers have reported countless cases of families being wiped out by generator fumes while sleeping at night. A power inverter system makes little or no noise and is less likely to kill people using it while they sleep.

Some Nigerians still use UPS systems with their TV hoping that it would last longer enough so that they don't miss a scene on what they are watching but a UPS based on what I've seen only lasts for about 5 to 15 minutes after a power outage and are more better designed for computer systems. You could always use a UPS for you TV to act as a sort of power stabilizer but if you really want to watch tv for many hours after a power cut, you should get a Power inverter system set up.

Nigerians who love watching TV or playing video games nowadays no longer need to wait till NEPA brings the light or their generators are powered on before they can continue doing so since a power inverter system can now do the job.

Inverters don't work alone as they need to work with a deep cycle battery which helps to store the power they need. The work of the inverter is basically to convert the charges or Direct current supplied by the battery into a different form known as Alternating current so that is can be used by most of our devices. An inverter won't be necessary if your devices require only Direct current as they can tap it directly from your Deep cycle battery but for most electronic devices, they make use of Alternating current.

There are many types and brands of inverters available in Nigeria and the price of high quality long lasting ones tend to be higher than the low quality ones and if you're buying or seeking to invest in such as power system, it's normally good to buy because you want a good service for the long term.

Some Nigerians who make use of power inverter systems don't really know how to maintain them but they just know how to use them. Some of them just get experts to install them and afterwards, may not bother about how to keep it running after it fails or disappoints them. Some even abandon their inverter system when it can no longer supply power for as long as it used to. One reason why I think inverters are no longer able to provide power for long hours as it used to is because the batteries may have died out and need a replacement. Replacing an inverter battery in Nigeria may require one to spend about N50,000(about $217) just for it and it's a price some people prefer not paying for. The price of a 900 VA inverter in Nigeria is about N30000(about $130) in the market.

There is nothing wrong with getting an expert to install and maintain your power inverter system but I always recommend that you should never get one if you didn't get a warranty with it from the seller. There are many people and companies that now sell inverter power systems and even provide after sales services but you should not make the mistake of getting it from them if they are not guaranteeing that it will keep working for you for up to a specified time period e.g.6 months to 2 years. When you get a warranty for an inverter power system, it becomes legally obligatory for the seller that sold it to you to provide after sales service for free if it fails to keep working after a short term specified period. So, some inverter and deep cycle battery sellers in Nigeria normally offer a warranty while some do not but offer them at a lower price. So, if you really do decide to get an inverter and a deep cycle battery from a seller, you can deice to pay more for it but get a warranty or just pay less for it without a warranty and those are basically the options Nigerians face when trying to invest in an inverter power system.

There are stories of inverters causing a fire outbreak at people's homes in Nigeria and I think the reason for that is because of locating it in a non-well ventilated place. An Inverter system does generate some heat and so needs some form of cooling that's why it should not be installed in a place that it not well ventilated. It should be installed in a place where there are no combustibles and allows the free flow of air so that heat can be carried away. Think of it like your generator. You don't want it installed n your room or office but in a airy friendly home so that it can be cooled down while it's operating. So, you can simply avoid a fire outbreak when using your power inverter by ensuring that it's installed in a cool and spacious place where it's less likely to cause a fire. Also, you can avoid fire outbreaks by not using it for too long such as during charging or discharging. You could always plug it out when it's fully charged or after a few hours of use if it gets too hot.

Compared to people using electro-mechanical generators in Nigeria, the number of people using power inverters are quite small but growing. In the future and when electricity supply increases as well as awareness about other greener forms of power like Solar energy, more and more Nigerians are going to gradually switch to using power inverter systems to meet their electricity needs. At times you may not be available at your home or office but electricity may be there. If you have an inverter system running, it will help you save that electricity so that when you are there you can always use without nursing any fear that you'll be cut off from electricity.

Some Nigerians prefer connecting their power inverter systems to the grid while some prefer connecting it to solar power. Some prefer connecting it to both power sources and the truth is that there are all possible and can also be connected to your mechanical generator. However, the method I prefer the most is the one which involves solar power because there would be no need to pay for electricity bills since it's off-grid. Connecting your inverter to the main electricity supply actually increases your power consumption bills most especially if it's the new prepaid billing method that's being used now but if it's solely connected to solar panels, then it can help reduce your spending. The electricity supplied by an inverter is not free electricity but it's one that has been taken from somewhere outside the system and saved for later use and someone has to pay for that.

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