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How to choose the right power backup for your business

May 30, 2023
Read Time 3 mins

What alternative power sources are available today

By Sascha Schmidt-Ries

Businesses in South Africa face challenges with an unreliable power supply due to frequent power outages and load shedding. This is caused by an ageing infrastructure and insufficient capacity to meet growing energy demands. Power cuts have disrupted business operations and resulted in financial losses. Many businesses are looking for alternative power sources to reduce their vulnerability to load shedding. 

However, they are unsure which solution is best for their needs. Generators, UPS, and inverters are all solutions that provide backup power during outages or times when there is no access to a reliable power source. There are several key differences between these solutions in terms of their capabilities, power output, and efficiency. 

Covered in this article



Generators are solutions that convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. They are powered by a variety of fuels, such as diesel, gasoline, propane, as well as natural gas. Generators are normally used to provide backup power during outages, or in situations where access to a reliable power source is not available. 

They come in a wide range of sizes, from small portable models that can power a few essential appliances, to large industrial models that can power entire buildings or small communities. In addition, they can be either manual or automatic, with automatic models starting up and shutting down automatically when power is lost or restored, and manual ones needing to be ‘fired up’ as needed. 

One of the main advantages of generators is their high-power output, as they can provide enough power to run even high-demand appliances such as air conditioning units and fridges. However, generators require regular maintenance, are noisy and produce harmful emissions, making them unsuitable for indoor use and in close proximity to other dwellings without additional noise-dampening enclosures. 


A UPS is an Uninterruptable Power Supply. It is mostly used for critical IT equipment or the most valuable appliances in your home, including medical equipment. 

While some UPS’s can take extended batteries for increased run time, UPSs are designed to provide power only until you switch to an alternative power source or safely shut down your equipment. 

A compelling advantage of UPS units is their ability to provide instant backup power in the event of a power outage. They can also help protect sensitive devices from power surges, voltage spikes, and other electrical disturbances, over and above power failures. 

For smaller entities, the investment is not prohibitive, and for a modest cost, companies can protect their critical equipment, as well as the data stored on that equipment, during times when there is no power.  

This not only guarantees that no data is lost but also acts as insurance against the loss of productivity that results from having to redo work. In essence, UPSs provide an instant short term backup power for computers and other electronic devices in the event of a power outage.  

They differ from generators in that they do not produce power on their own. Instead, they store power in batteries and then release that power when the main power source is interrupted. 

UPSs are typically used in office settings or other environments where a loss of power could result in data loss or other serious consequences. They are available in a range of sizes and capacities, from small desktop models that can power a single computer, to large rack-mounted units that can power an entire server room or a building. 

UPSs also help companies avoid data loss or damage when used in conjunction with power management software, as a controlled shutdown of the system is enabled, and data can be saved.  

Finally, a UPS guarantees the availability of networks and other business applications while avoiding any downtime. When used in conjunction with alternative sources of power, such as solar or generators, UPSs ensure that there is enough power for a smooth switchover to that source, so that no disruption to the business happens. 


The next solution is an inverter, or device that converts DC (direct current) power into AC (alternating current) power. Inverters are usually used at times when DC power is available, but AC power is needed.

For instance, solar panels produce DC power, which must be converted to AC power before it can be used to power appliances.

Inverters come in a wide range of sizes and capacities, from tiny models that can power a single appliance, to large industrial models that can power entire buildings. They can also be either pure sine waves or modified sine waves. The former produces a clean and stable power output, while the latter produces a less stable output that may not be suitable for sensitive electronics like a medical equipment

One of the major advantages of inverters is their ability to convert DC power into AC power, allowing businesses and homes to use a wider range of appliances and devices. They are also more efficient than generators, as they do not produce harmful emissions, have quiet or silent operation, no maintenance is required, and they do not need any fuel to run making it a more cost-effective solution in a long term

All these solutions have their place and usefulness when it comes to providing backup power during load shedding or in times when there is no access to a reliable power source.

Downtime, data loss, decreased productivity, loss of income, and damage to equipment due to power outages can have a major impact on your business operations. That is why it's important to consider a power supply alternative that can provide you with peace of mind and help prevent any potential loss of revenue. With Tarsus Distribution, you can rest easy knowing that you have a trusted partner for backup power solutions

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