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Independent energy systems still need maintenance!

Loadshedding is in a dire state in South Africa. That much is clear. The distrust in government energy production is leading to a surge of private sector power generation, or at the least an investment in backup power systems and storage systems.


The switch over to private sector power generation comes with increased personal maintenance of these systems and a technical know-how which many companies are ill-equipped to address. So you’ve invested in alternative energy technology and power-generating hardware, you’re the power generator, don’t be like Eish-kom and mismanage or shirk maintenance on your systems!


Now unlike a certain power utility, you can optimise your system from day one. With our Managed Services compliment, you can be rest assured your power generating systems are online when needed, fully functional and strictly maintained. This blog will dive into common loadshedding issues clients face, small-scale and large-scale measures you can take to ease these issues, and ways in which our Managed Services can effectively ensure you don’t get left in the dark about any issues your system may face!


Loadshedding problems:


We have received a number of queries about clients’ systems not working after loadshedding. The most common issue reported is that a system didn’t restore operations after the power came back on. Loadshedding can cause battery issues and settings to re-set. It is important for every client to check that their system is up and running on a regular basis (we recommend every few weeks or if there has been prolonged loadshedding), and report any issue to our Tech department so that we can assist in getting your system up and running, and thoroughly tested!


On our side, we are taking all precautions to mitigate the effects of loadshedding, and ensure operations remain uninterrupted. We have installed additional back-up power systems and we service our generators regularly. On top of this, we have ensured a second level of redundancy where we have command centres in Gauteng and the Western Cape, allowing for seamless failover. As loadshedding is an ongoing issue, we will keep you informed about any changes or improvements we make to our power systems.


Loadshedding measures for small-scale individual homes & small businesses:


Inverters or UPS systems for Wi-Fi:

  • As most CCTV systems operate via the Internet, maintaining connection with our command centres is vitally important. We can’t monitor signals we don’t receive.

  • We were recently informed about affordable UPS (uninterrupted power supply) systems used specifically for maintaining home Wi-Fi connectivity.

  • Our Managing Director Mike Voortman can affirm, this has been a game changer! Not only does this facilitate uninterrupted connectivity when working from home, but this allows connectivity in the evenings when one is more vulnerable. (Another benefit is that this reduces the amount of cell phone data you use).

Power banks:

  • What is the point in having WIFI without having a charged device to connect to it! Power banks are a valuable asset to have whether at home during loadshedding or on a trip.

  • Some power banks even double as portable flashlights!

Additional safety tips:

  • Ensure your gate has fully closed when loadshedding occurs. Having a half-closed gate and a gate battery that has completely run flat (think 4 hour loadshedding), is an invitation for petty theft or intruders, or your pets wandering into the road!

  • Solar-powered, battery run movement activated lighting is another relatively inexpensive way to boost your preventative security measures during loadshedding.

  • It may be worth investing in back-up battery systems specifically for your CCTV system. Without electric fencing, secured gates, garden passive sensors and the like, having operational CCTV cameras may become a matter of urgency!

Loadshedding measures on a large scale:

  • Solar-powered CCTV systems with backup battery systems. While these systems have an initial Cap Ex, they pay for themselves in a relatively short amount of time. This is provided they are taken care of, and managed well to ensure they are working at their optimal capacity.

  • Back-up generators. Having additional power storage systems and back-up generators can allow a level of redundancy for ‘a rainy day’ when solar power isn’t at its optimal.

  • Critical infrastructure protection. This category comes in two forms, protecting your physical investment from theft and tampering, and correctly applying technology that in essence protects itself from the volatility of the national grid during intense loadshedding periods.


SecuritySA describes ways of utilising IoT devices to prevent theft of solar infrastructure (https://www.securitysa.com/19078r) describing how vulnerable solar panels are to theft due to their high demand and visible installation. An IoT device can mitigate some of the risk of theft, and enhance preventative security of your infrastructure. With proper management, these devices (small wireless sensors installed on the back of solar panels) can rapidly alert a command centre when movement is detected.


When you’re investing in infrastructure, ask your supplier the big questions regarding the effect of loadshedding in devices. Some CCTV cameras and security devices have the built in ability to shield itself from the effects of voltage spikes and the like. Axis for example have a series of CCTV cameras designed to resist voltage transients to a certain degree. Through the use of a shielded network cable (STP), the electrical energy is diverted to ground without ever reaching the camera, with the caveat that the design depends on proper installation!


Managed services for systems checks and maintenance!


All of the above-mentioned measures you can take to mitigate your loadshedding woes can be nullified by human error, mismanagement, and miscommunication. Here are a few ways our Managed Services can ensure your infrastructure is appropriately and effectively utilised.


Checks: After the power supply returns, or during the switch between self-generated power supply and feeding off the national grid, devices may not re-start correctly, or may even lose settings entirely. This is why having a regimented approach to system checks is so important! If your cold storage goes offline, if your IoT or CCTV devices don’t return online in a timely manner, or if critically important infrastructure does not go online at all, would you know about it?


Maintenance:


When the power supply goes down, it might take a bit of your system’s lifespan with it. Not only that, but without routine maintenance and checks, your system may not be running at capacity! Our Managed Services can perform a number of tasks as per our clients' needs, including maintenance consultations and checks, reminders and reporting on the operational capacity of your system, as well as providing access to knowledgeable in-house technical support staff, so that in the event of a breakdown in any of your systems you can get it up and running as soon as possible.


Conclusion:


Loadshedding isn’t going anywhere soon. The past few years have shown more consecutive loadshedding than previous years combined, and even on an optimistic timeline in renewable energy progressive provinces such as the Western Cape, it’s likely that loadshedding will continue to affect daily life for the next 5-10 years. Investments in independent power generation don’t stop at the installation of the infrastructure, they’re a part of daily running.


Don’t forget to manage and maintain your system! If you don’t have the time, manpower, or know-how to ensure continuous smooth operations, let our Managed Services help ease your load(shedding).

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