African Alternative Energy Solutions is in the business of providing alternative energy solutions, not just systems. We work very hard to provide the best quality solution for the price. The increased load shedding here in Uganda has driven both companies and people to come to us for solutions to the problem of lack of electricity. In addition, A tariff increase of about 40% has just been announced, on rates that reportedly are the second highest in the world already. Efficient use of electricity is becoming more imperative.
When someone calls, the first thing we ask them is what do they want to power, what is the wattage required for each appliance and for how long do they want power. Normally, whenever possible, we send out a technician to evaluate the site and, to the best of our ability to measure what is going to be needed now and in the future. What we often find is there are huge energy losses due to old appliances, poor wiring, etc.
We offer several different solutions. The Auto PowerStation is charged off the vehicle as it is being driven. This is free electricity. If you drive a car as little as an hour a day, you have power for a medium TV and 3 to 4 energy saving lights for up to 4 hours. This is the lowest total cost alternative energy solution for those who own and drive a car. It also has the added advantage that it provides electricity anywhere the vehicle travels.
The Grid (inverter) PowerStation is the next lowest total cost alternative solution. We can configure it to meet just about any electricity need for the home, office or business. However, the system is charged off Umeme and thus you are still paying for the electricity that is used.
The Solar PowerStation provides free electricity and can be configured to provide power for any size requirement. However, the initial cost is the highest of the 3 alternatives. However, with time the benefits override the costs. Its biggest positive is that there is always electricity so long as the sun is shining.
As an aside, I really hate inefficiency. We want to provide the system needed to meet the need of the user, and not more or less. I know it is unusual for a company to make suggestions that will lessen the size of the sale, but here we go. These ideas come from hundreds of analyses we have done. The reason these suggestions are important is by reducing your energy consumption, not only is your electricity bill lessened, but also the size of the alternative energy system you need for backup power is reduced, and thus the cost of the system is also reduced.
Whether you want power for a home or a business, or whether you want a system for backup or as the primary source, or whether it is needed in a new construction or in an existing building, or whether you are looking at a solar or inverter or Auto PowerStation, these suggestions may save you a great deal of money in purchasing a system while enhancing the quality of your life and lowering your electricity bill.
The first place to look is at your lighting as that is usually the primary requirement. If you are still using incandescent bulbs (the old round ones) or fluorescent lights, replace them immediately with either energy savers, or better still, replace the lights with the new LED lights that use about 1/4 of the power as energy savers for the same amount of light. Also look at the size of the bulbs you are using, Do you really need 15 watt energy savers or will 8 or 10 watt do the job?
The next place to look is at your TV. If you have an old tube type TV consider replacing it with an LCD TV. Most of the new LCD TVs use a fraction of the power of the old tube type. Do you really need a large screen TV or will a 21″ or less LCD TV be sufficient?
The third area to look at is your fridge. Old models are very inefficient compared to the newer ones. A cheap old Fridge is no bargain. If you are buying an inverter or solar system for backup during load shedding and the load shedding is normally 4 hours or less, don’t put the fridge on the backup system. Normally a fridge will keep things cold for up to 24 hours if you keep the door closed. You may also want to consider buying a small bar fridge to store those things that are required for daily living that spoil quickly, such as milk during load shedding and put that on backup power. Don’t believe the label as far as the wattage is concerned. Fridges have a compressor that when it starts up uses up to 10 times the wattage that is shown on the label. Thus if it says it is a 130 watt, it can take more than a 1000 watts for the compressor to start up.
The fourth area to look at is your computers. If you are using desktop computers, get rid of them, especially if they are on all day. I haven’t owned a desktop computer in 20 years. You can do just about anything on a laptop that you can do on a desktop. Desktops use anywhere from 3 to 8 times the electricity of a laptop. Laptops have the additional advantage of having battery backup built in that will usually provide a couple of hours of usage. The normal desktop will require 300 to 500 watts depending on the type of monitor etc, whereas the normal laptop uses 50 to 90 watts. If you are worried about theft, most laptops have a provision for a Kensington lock that allows you to cable the system to a desk, making it very difficult to steal. If you must have a desktop, look at the Inveneo systems that use only 38 watts sold by CLS Limited located in the UMA Show Grounds, Lugogo. If you are using a desktop computer more than 6 hours a day, the saving in buying the backup system whether inverter or solar plus the saving on your electricity bill, will more than pay for the new laptop computers in a very short time..
When buying new appliances look at the label on the product and choose the one with the lowest wattage. For example, most flat-irons use 1200 watts. However, there are small travel irons that use 800 watts or less that do a very good job, and they cost a lot less to purchase. Also look for the Energy Star label on appliances. These are usually the most energy efficient appliances you can buy and will save you money in the long run.
Lastly, make sure your wiring in your building has been done right. Very often we find the wiring has been done incorrectly, not only causing loss of electricity, but also a possible cause of fire and injury. Have the power tested coming into the home, often power coming from Umeme is not balanced and this can cause destruction of your appliances, including the inverter.
When you are ready to solve your load shedding problem or need power in the village where there is none, give us a call. We will be happy to look at your needs and provide the best system to satisfy them. As we like to say, “We are in the business of providing solutions not just systems”.
I hope this has been helpful.
Harry Nielsen – CEO
African Alternative Energy Solutions, Ltd.