Searching for an alternative energy solution for your business but not sure where to start? The process of investing in a solution requires a lot of research, and with so many types available, it can be overwhelming to select the right one that will suit your needs.
Barry Venter, CEO of Nashua offers some useful advice on the points to consider when making the switch to alternative energy generation. “If you need a reliable power supply owing to your local municipality having been cut off by Eskom, you’ll need either a solar installation or a generator instead of a battery backup that will have to be charged on the grid,” he says.
Picking the right service provider is a huge decision for any business. The true benefits of alternative energy can only be achieved by choosing a provider that is an expert in the field and has the right certifications.
“The only way to determine the right solution for your current and future needs is to do your homework and choose your partner on this journey wisely,” Venter says.
Questions your provider should be asking you
A suitable provider will have your best interest in mind. They will understand your business and its needs. They should be asking you to outline your pain points. What energy challenges do you currently face? Are you concerned about increased energy costs or are you looking for a backup solution to power you through short periods of load shedding? Do you want to lower your electricity bill while benefiting the environment at the same time? And, what are your long-term plans for the alternative energy installation?
These provider inquiries can make all the difference when it comes to customising a solution that will solve your energy issues.
Questions you should be asking your provider
Venter recommends that you prepare some questions as well to make sure a prospective provider’s offerings check the crucial boxes.
Take note of the types of warranties offered by the service provider as this will give you a good idea of how long the batteries might last. Look for a scalable solution that can support your business today, but also adapt to your future needs. Check if the system is optimised for solar electricity production. If it’s not, how will it impact future solar energy adoption in your business? You should also ask if you’ll be able to monitor the solution remotely. If not, find out whether the solution requires the installation of additional hardware to enable remote monitoring.
Types of alternative energy solutions
There are a variety of different types of alternative energy solutions which suit different situations or requirements. Outlined below are some of the options available to you.
Plug-and-play inverter: best for remote working when users need a mobile solution to power low current appliances such as a desktop PC, TV, phone, router.
Compact Power Station (CPS): a unit consisting of batteries and an inverter, which is connected to a distribution board. It activates automatically in the event of a power outage and can provide power for lights, a TV, WiFi or a computer.
Diesel-powered generators: ranging from small to large-scale, these machines are fitted with an automatic switch so that they power on without human intervention to provide electricity to equipment connected to it.
Solar-powered solutions: The ultimate in alternative energy, solar power systems are fitted with smart monitoring devices through which users can set timers on specific appliances, keep an eye on their consumption, alternate between solar and the grid supply via an application, and receive alerts when there’s an electrical fault in the system.
Venter points out that “solar has the advantage of a 20- to 25-year lifespan and, once the three- or five-year rental agreement expires, the user has free power, which makes this a great rental option.”
With a little homework on your side and some evaluation from your service, you’ll be able to make an informed decision. If you are well prepared at the outset, and have all the information that the provider has requested, you should have no trouble finding a solution that’s a great fit. Keep in mind that a final site inspection is needed to ensure that the system is fully functional and meets the energy generation requirements.