As a software developer, there are two important things I can’t do without; Electricity, and Internet. Unfortunately, I live in a country where the electricity situation is not encouraging, to say the least.
Over the years I’ve tried to combat the electricity situation in different ways. Including working out of a cafe, library, or business center. At one point I had to move to a neighborhood where their electricity seemed better. And finally, when I was able to afford it, I bought a generator.
But, last year I decided to try a solar inverter setup. It was awesome at first, I had electricity 24 hours a day and I did not have to run the generator for months. This may sound like a norm to some people, but it is a big deal where I live. Unfortunately, my triumph was short-lived. After about 4 months, the setup started to fall apart.
My batteries that lasted for about 2 days when fully charged, began to last for just a few hours. And at this point, I had the option to either go back to running the generator or upgrade/replace the inverter setup. But of course, by now I was already used to the ease and flex of not having to buy fuel, turn on the generator, and having to endure the noise.
So naturally, I set out to replace/upgrade the inverter.
The Previous Setup
So the previous setup cost me about $400 in total, I had:
A 2.4KVA modified sine inverter.
2 pieces of 12V 100ah batteries
A 300 watts solar panel and
A 30A solar charge controller.
The 5 Things I Wish I knew Before I Did My First Setup
So what went wrong with this setup and why have I replaced it?
I didn't know the type of inverter I was getting
The first thing I noticed after using this inverter for some time was that the capacity is not actually up to 2.4KVA as advertised, it was about 1.4KVA. But that wasn't a huge deal-breaker for me since I didn't plan to carry that much load anyway.
The main issue, however, was that the inverter was not a Pure sine wave inverter. And this is something I learned only after using an inverter for some time.
Basically, there are two major types of inverters, the Pure sine wave inverter, and the modified sine wave inverter. Modified sine wave inverters are generally cheaper, but they don’t support some appliances like fridges, Air conditioners, and so on. Generally, appliances that use motors will not work well with a modified sine wave inverter. Some of these appliances will work, but as I’ve learned it is not recommended to use them with this type of inverter.
Pure sine wave inverters on the other hand are more expensive. But they support basically all appliances, Fridges, AC, and so on. As long as you get one that has high enough capacity to power whatever appliances you have.
So, buying a Modified Sine wave inverter rather than a Pure Sine Wave inverter was my first big mistake.
Trying to carry everything
My second mistake, which is related to the first was actually using the inverter to power my fridge, and sometimes, my Air conditioner. This is another big mistake because, apart from what I explained earlier about the inverter not being a Pure sine wave inverter, my battery bank of just 200Ah is not nearly enough to run those kinds of high-energy appliances. So I was essentially overloading my batteries, and as a result, they eventually deteriorated.
Not having a warranty on my batteries
Buying batteries without a warranty is another mistake. There are lots of bad batteries out there. So make sure that whoever you are buying batteries from gives you at least a 1-year warranty on them.
Not having enough solar panels
I initially bought 2 units of 300 watts solar panels, but one of them was broken during shipment, so I had the option to get another one or get a refund. The electrician that helped with the setup convinced me that one solar panel will be enough for me, so I opted to get a refund. But that was a mistake because as I started to use the setup, I realized very quickly that 300 watts solar panel is not nearly enough to charge a battery bank of 400Amh.
Essentially, you need as many solar panels as possible.
Don't be cheap
When I was about to buy a Charge controller, I called someone to inquire how much he sold them. He told me about $75, I then went online and saw a merchant that sold for around $15. I ordered from him. And after about a month the thing stopped working.
So guys don't be cheap. I'm telling you.
My Current Setup
So, my current setup costs about $1,800. I have;
1.5KVA pure sine wave inverter
2 pieces of 12V 200ah batteries
4 300 watts solar panel (not yet installed) and
A 60A solar charge controller.
I have been using this new setup for close to a year now, and I have no complaints whatsoever. It lasts for at least 3 days when fully charged while powering my medium-sized refrigerator, laptops, a 4k monitor, 7 energy-saving bulbs, and other small appliances.
So that's it. Those are 5 things I wish I knew before I did my inverter setup. Are you planning on doing an inverter setup? Do you already have an inverter setup? Do you have any questions about inverters? Do you have any tips or lessons about inverters to share? Please let me know in a comment below. ✌🏽