So our system is up. Is it the right one? Have we got buyers’ remorse?


After much pondering, and waiting for a run of decent weather (we do live in the Eastern Cape) we finally had the Genergy backup system in place and working efficiently. It was working absolutely seamlessly, and we were finding that we honestly did not know when a load shedding session had kicked in or not. The load shedding drama was over, life carried on as before, and all we could ponder was why we hadn’t we done this way sooner.

The cost of the system, as mentioned in a previous post here – was close to a healthy R70k, give or take a few Sheckels. Was it money well spent? Were we getting the right amount of value out of it? A couple of our friends in the area started buying up these remote Inverters – in technical terms a standalone UPS system (Uninterrupted Power Supply). These units cost anywhere in the region of R6k and R10k per unit, which is in a way different league when it comes to our system. So what was going on here? Why had I just shelled out a big R70k when they were buying a little portable system for R6k that was doing the same job as my system, pretty much? Was I being led down the garden path, so to speak?

The difference lies in the ‘pretty much,’ and it’s a very big difference.

The UPS unit has a built-in battery. It also has an AC battery charger. It simply used the grid to charge the batteries, and it can kick in immediately when the grid goes down. The problem is in the sine wave technology.

The larger system uses True Sine Wave technology, while the mobile unit uses Modified Sine Wave technology. Ok? Got it? Hang in here, I’m not going to get any more complicated, I barely know the basics myself.

So my inverter – the big system – is a True Sine Wave inverter, which means that I can plug it into my electrical DB board and the output is pure enough to run all my sensitive electronic appliances like the TV, the laptops, the Internet and modem and the Hi Fi system. There is no need to plug anything in, as the system kicks in the absolute micro second Eskom shuts down.

The smaller UPS unit on wheels is a Modified Sine Wave unit. The main problem with this is that the Modified Sine Wave system can, and does damage sensitive electronic equipment. So you can run some lights off it, as well as a kettle or a toaster or something, but it wouldn’t be advisable to run any sensitive electronic equipment off it. There is no way you can plug your laptop in and carry on working without serious risk to your equipment.

The inverter keeps the laptops going.

The inverter keeps the laptops going.

Should you use it on anything sensitive and something breaks or stops working, there are also further problems with warranty claims. Read that as you want to, but I read it as either ‘warranty not valid’ or ‘insurance won’t pay.’

The other thing is that you have to plug all your stuff in. There is a multi plug so you can plug some lights in or your kettle or a hair dryer, but you are restricted with mobility. You can only plug things in wherever you can take the unit. You can’t plug in your TV, or use it to keep the Internet going. So in essence you wont be cold or in darkness, but you won’t be able to continue to operate with efficiency. If all you need is a bit of light and maybe some hot water, then it’s a definite option, but do not expect to be able to work, or watch TV.

So, when going through my needs, and what I now have, I was advise correctly, and made the right choice. Nice one Genergy. My wife and I need to continue to work during work hours, so we need our laptops and Internet connection running. After hours, we need lights and the TV to help us with the two young ones. This includes making them food with decent lights on, having a fridge that works, and keeping them quiet as their brains turn into cotton wool while they watch endless episodes of Spongebob Squarepants or play Minecraft and Barbie on the iPads.

It’s a trade off.