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FAQ

Can I run my air conditioners on these systems?

Answer »
Although it is technically possible to run air conditioners on power backup or solar systems, most people chose not to do so because air conditioners use a lot of power. Consider just running one air conditioner unit or only running it for a few hours at a time.

How much will my system cost?

Answer »
Cost is entirely dependent on how much power you use. An installed system could cost anywhere from several hundred dollars to a hundred thousand dollars. But most customers find that with several thousand dollars they can meet most of their power needs most of the time.

What is different about your inverters?

Answer »
Inverters are the devices that convert electric power from DC (battery type) to AC (grid type). In recent years, inverters have become more common. Unfortunately, most are high-frequency type inverters that are cheap to manufacture but are not reliable in African conditions. We use only torodial transformer-type inverters and inverter/chargers built to US and European standards. One way you can easily tell the difference is to compare the weight of inverters. Transformers are heavy and most high-frequency inverters will not weigh more than 7 KGs. Our smallest inverter/charger weighs 20 KG!

Can I install this system myself?

Answer »
You are certainly welcome to design, import and install your own system. But unless you are planning on becoming a reseller/installer, it may not be worth the risk and expense. Most customers find it worthwhile to use a trained, professional installer and negotiate an economical solution. If you would like to import and install your own system and believe you would qualify to become a reseller, please contact us directly at African Energy.

What are the operating costs of these systems?

Answer »
There are no operating costs, other than the electricity consumed by a power backup system in recharging the batteries. This is electricity you would have consumed from the grid anyway, had it been available. Batteries will need replacement periodically, depending on the quality of batteries you choose, and how often and deeply you discharge them.

What kind of maintenance is required?

Answer »
The only maintenance required is periodic (quarterly) checking of battery electrolyte level, if you choose to use flooded batteries. If you use sealed batteries, there is virtually no maintenance.

Is this a new idea? Why haven’t I seen this before?

Answer »
Power backup systems have been in use in Africa since at least the 1990s. Our company has been distributing them for ten years. Many banks, telecom companies and wealthy individuals have been using them. But it has taken time to develop and train a network of local companies who can expertly size and install systems. Fortunately, we now have that kind of network in many African countries.

I’ve heard about solar systems in Germany and California that connect to the electric grid – can I get one of those?

Answer »
These are called “grid-tie” or “grid-feed” systems and are normally purely photovoltaic solar systems designed to add power to the national grid. These are installed in areas where the government or grid operator offers a subsidy for this type of solar power and where it is permitted. We don’t know of any country in Africa where a subsidy is offered, and so we don’t find it to be an economically attractive option yet.

Can I use this system to heat water?

Answer »
Our solar power systems are photovoltaic, meaning they create electricity, not heat. If you want a solar system for heating water, you will need a solar thermal system. Of course, you can use the electricity in your solar or backup system to run an electric water heater, but these heaters generally consume a lot of power and are not an efficient use of your limited battery power.