Inverters are not coming under fit and forget category. Like any other home appliances, maintenance of inverters and associated batteries are paramount to get optimum benefit. Preventive maintenance is very much importance in terms of safety also. Here some tips to get most out of your home inverter .
Maintenance of Battery.
Battery is the essential part of inverter which need continuous attention and maintenance. Normally people place inverter batteries in a concealed place to make it out of reach of children in safety point of view. Even maintenance free batteries also need attention against rusting in terminals.
Terminal rusting: It’s the main problem of all batteries, including the maintenance free type. Rusting in terminals reduces the current flow to and from the battery. This will considerably affect the life of battery and inverter efficiency. Rusted contacts restrict the charging current and slow rate of charging will reduces the battery life with irreversible Sulphation effect. Hence you have to check and clean the battery terminals at least once in a month.
How to clean the battery terminals
Switch OFF the inverter and power supply to inverter. Remove the battery cables from terminals. Remember, you must take necessary precaution against possible shorting and sparks while removing the terminal connections. If the corrosion is excessive, the terminals may not be able to remove very easily. In that case don’t use excessive pressure by tapping, which can break the terminal internally. Take a cup of boiling water and add two to three spoons of baking soda in it. Pour the same into battery terminals. Wait for a minute and remove the terminal connections.
If the nuts and bolts are rusted, replace it of clean it by using kerosene or petrol. Put some dry baking soda into the battery terminals and rub it with a wet tooth brush. After that clean with a soft dry cloth. Replace the connectors back, tight them well. Apply white petroleum jelly over the terminals to prevent further corrosion
Topping up of water: Nowadays most of the inverter batteries are coming with inbuilt electrolyte level indicators. It’s a common practice that people use tap water for toping up. Some local technicians suggest filling of boiled and cooled tap water. Remember these things will not substitute distilled water. Tap water contains impurities, minerals and other chemicals which reacts with the battery electrodes and causes life reduction. Some people use the water drained out from air conditioners, which is comparatively a better alternative but not the best. Rain water is also equivalent to distilled water because nowadays due to excessive atmospheric pollution, rainwater is also contaminated with chemicals. However much better than tap water. You must check the electrolyte level regularly.
Annual Maintenance Contract for Batteries : If you don’t want to make your hands dirty and need peace of mind, you can go for the annual maintenance contract option available with almost all battery dealers. They will come to your house on regular intervals for inspection and maintenance of battery. It costs less than Rs 1000/- even in metro cities.
Proper inverter wiring is very much essential to get maximum benefits. If your house wiring is not leak proof, then it will directly affect inverter performance and battery backup. Moreover it will also overshoot your electricity bill . It’s not a good practice to share the full load to inverter in both mains on and off conditions. As far as wiring is concerned it is very easy to connect the inverter to the Main circuit breakers or Main switches, but it will certainly affect the performance of inverter because of over loading. It is always better to have separate wiring for inverter by assessing the usage rather than connecting the whole load and subsequent switching off on power failure.
Never overload the inverter. It will adversely affect both battery and inverter performance. Don’t connect the appliances that requires high starting load like Microwave ovens, Mixers, Drilling machines etc. Pulsating load appliances like washing machines are also need not be avoided. Power hungry home appliances like air conditioners, heaters, refrigerators etc can be run with high power inverters but in terms of economy and convenience it is better to go for generators for such high load requirements even for home use also.
Use of CFLs and LED lighting
It’s a good idea to use low wattage and high performance CFLs or new generation LED lights. The most energy friendly way of illumination is LED lighting. Replacement cost of conventional lights with LEDs may go out of your budget but within an year the same will be compensated by the added benefits. LED lights will give the same illumination of conventional lights by consuming very less energy. LEDs convert 80 to 90 % of input electrical energy to light. Remember the energy efficiency of normal incandescent lights are 20 % only. Life of these lights are considerably high as compared to CFLs and other lights.