Friday, 8th December 2023

Subsidy Removal…Inverter technology to the rescue in homes, offices

16 September 2023   |   3:00 am
With the prevailing high cost of petrol in the country occasioned by the removal of subsidy on the product about three months ago, Nigerians who hitherto used generating sets as alternative sources of electricity in their homes and offices are turning to inverters to save cost and consequently reduce noise pollution, writes MARIA DIAMOND As Nigerians…

Solar Panel

With the prevailing high cost of petrol in the country occasioned by the removal of subsidy on the product about three months ago, Nigerians who hitherto used generating sets as alternative sources of electricity in their homes and offices are turning to inverters to save cost and consequently reduce noise pollution, writes MARIA DIAMOND

As Nigerians continue to face the harsh reality of fuel subsidy removal, individuals and businesses all over the country are relentlessly looking for ways to save costs, especially in the area of the volume of petrol they consume in the course of their daily activities.

With electricity generation, transmission and distribution still challenged and waiting for solutions from President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration, millions of homes and businesses depend on power-generating sets to satisfy their electricity needs. However, the removal of fuel subsidy, which has shot up the pump price from about N258 in May this year to between N580 and N617 now, depending on the state of the federation, is forcing people to embrace the installation of power inverters as a cost saving measure. Interestingly, this measure serves another purpose as it reduces noise pollution and saves people from the harmful effects of Carbon Monoxide (CO) emitted by power-generating sets.

“What would you have us do? This country has become almost unlivable and the trending joke ‘let the poor breathe’ is no longer a mere joke for the masses as it’s becoming more and more difficult to survive in Nigeria. The pump price of petrol is so high that a lot of people have parked their power generating sets; they just stay without electricity when power suppliers withhold it. I have parked my car and now move via commercial vehicles, which are not cheap as they also buy fuel.

“However, because I have to work from home four days in a week, I decided that it is more cost effective to install an inverter. Initially, the cost seemed huge but when I calculated the cost of the fuel my generator could consume in a month now and multiplied it by two months, the total figure approximately covers for the price of the inverter that would last me for five years if properly maintained,” said Azubuike Chukwuebuka.

A banker, Ademola Ogunjimi, told The Guardian that he also recently installed a solar inverter due to the high cost of fuel. According to him, he has been wondering why he didn’t consider the idea a long time ago.

“This is because the noise from the generator is horrible and I don’t know how we are all still sane in this country with such a magnitude of noise pollution that is not healthy for anyone. But many Nigerians don’t pay attention to their health. In a country that works, the noise pollution from generators would have been punishable by law such that no one would consider the use of a generating set as an alternative power source. But again it’s Nigeria where power suppliers also have to use generating sets to power their offices and homes.

“As a Nigerian who lives in Lagos, on a night that you or your neighbours run generator till daybreak due to power outage, you find yourself waking in the morning with a headache due to the noise. Also, the air pollution from the exhaust is another health concern. I had a fight with my neighbour some months back because he repositioned the exhaust of his power generating set towards my flat and the choking smoke filled the entire space. Interestingly, he was the first to install the solar inverter and I followed suit as nothing beats the calmness of having power in your space when the public power supply source goes off. So, in this dispensation of high pump price of petrol, sourcing electricity through a noiseless solar inverter is a win-win situation,” he said.

A power inverter is an electronic device or circuitry that changes Direct Current (DC) to Alternating Current (AC). The resulting AC frequency obtained depends on the particular device employed. Inverters do the opposite of rectifiers which were originally large electromechanical devices converting AC to DC. The input voltage, output voltage and frequency, and overall power handling, depend on the design of the specific device or circuitry. The inverter does not produce any power; the power is provided by the DC source. A power inverter can be entirely electronic or may be a combination of mechanical effects and electronic circuitry. Static inverters do not use moving parts in the conversion process.

Power inverters are primarily used in electrical power applications where high currents and voltages are present. Circuits that perform the same function for electronic signals, which usually have very low currents and voltages, are called oscillators. Circuits that perform the opposite function, converting AC to DC, are called rectifiers.

The differences between AC and DC are clear. In DC, the electric charge (current) only flows in one direction. Electric charge in AC, on the other hand, changes direction periodically. The voltage in AC circuits also periodically reverses because the current changes direction. An inverter converts DC from your batteries to AC and then supplies your house with either 110/220v current.

While there are different kinds of inverter, the solar inverter seems to be predominantly used by most Nigerians now because of the zero need for other powering sources for charging except solar.

A solar inverter also known as Photovoltaic (PV) inverter or solar converter, converts the variable DC output of a PV solar panel into a utility frequency alternating electricity, thus making the energy usable in homes and offices.

The PV solar panels are widely regarded as ideal methods of generating electricity. The materials in the panels, usually silicon, create an electric current when met with natural daylight and this current is then used as standard electricity within properties. The energy is renewable and therefore considered green.

The most common location for the installation of solar PV panels is the roof. Most roofs typically have the desired specifications for the installation so that panels get the maximum sunlight. Nevertheless, if installation on the roof is not applicable or desired, the panels could also be mounted on the ground. However, if it must be mounted on the roof, there is a need to get approval from the landlord or landlady of the house if it’s a rented apartment.

Contrary to popular belief that solar panels on the roof need sunlight to work, findings showed that they actually draw energy from daylight but deliver the best results with sunlight.

An inverter maintenance expert, who identified himself simply as Mr. Sunday, explained that solar panels use the energy from daylight, as opposed to sunlight, to produce electricity.

“So, it does not necessarily need direct sunlight to work. The photon in natural daylight is converted by solar panel cells to produce electricity,” he explained.

He, however, underscored the need for the installation of an appropriate inverter in homes and offices.

“It is imperative to monitor the efficiency of an inverter for a home energy system. Inverters are generally most efficient when operated at or near their peak output; for example, a 1,500W inverter powering close to a 1,500W load. Most of the time, your inverter will be running a wide range of loads, usually not at its peak capacity. So, choose an inverter that has high efficiency over a broader range of loads. Other considerations are to match the inverter to the system’s input voltage and an output AC voltage that matches the loads. The size is also important as you need to know the amount of total watts in your solar panel,” Sunday said.