When I last bought batteries for our inverter installation, an interesting Chinese Gel battery caught my eye. The battery had a built-in display, a USB port, 3 controllable output switches, a bunch of useful cables and an input for a solar panel? It is marketed as an OUTDO OT100-12. So I ordered one. This is what it looks like:
So what's interesting about it? - It is after all just a battery... Well, this battery makes it easy to get emergency lighting and cell-phone charging from solar. It is completely independent from Eskom. Yes, it works even if Eskom implodes. You need:
So, for between R3,300 and R4,000, does it work? Well, here at home we use it every day, regardless of whether we have Eskom power or not. It connects one small bedside lamp, which we typically use for 2 hours a day. We occasionally charge a cellphone with it. The solar panel is an older 40W panel I had lying around. The panel gets direct sun in the afternoons only. On most days it recharges the battery almost completely. Even on cloudy days, it manages. Recently, we had 5 successive rainy days. The system continued to work, with the battery not falling below 12.6V.
Can I recommend this? Well, like most things solar, it's never going to save you money. What it will do is give you emergency lighting for a few hours every evening and keep your cellphone charged, even if Eskom shuts down indefinitely. There are cheaper ways that this can be done, but not much cheaper. If simplicity and large capacity appeal to you, then this is pretty cool.