The grim reality of load-shedding has returned to South Africa, with citizens once again being subjected to rolling blackouts on a regular basis.
These scheduled outages not only damage the economy and affect the productivity of businesses, but are also painfully frustrating to individuals.
Coming home to a house with no electricity is not a pleasant experience to say the least, but there are some ways to reduce the impairment a lack of power can have on your daily routine.
Those with the budget and capacity may opt to run their house off a generator, while others may be content with a UPS for essential devices.
Even simple products like LED lights and battery banks can be life-savers when Eskom decides to cut your power.
Below are some of the best products you can buy to survive load-shedding in South Africa.
Generators: R2,199 – R8,999
Generators are the easiest way to tide yourself over while load-shedding is in effect, although they can be expensive to run for long periods of time due to the cost of fuel.
Household generators usually run on petrol and supply a fixed amount of electricity depending on their size.
Larger generators can power entire homes while smaller ones only deliver enough power to keep critical appliances running.
A 650W Ryobi generator is priced at R2,199 and should be able to power basic appliances and lighting, while the 5.5kW model should easily handle the power draw of an average home with no problems.
The prices below were taken from Game’s website.
UPS: R550 – R4,999
Uninterrupted Power Supplies (UPS) can be ideal for keeping a few key devices powered when the power goes out, and can also help to protect against surges.
A UPS provides almost instant protection from outages, and can be used to ensure devices like computers properly shut down when the power goes off.
While a single standard computer could be powered for around 5 minutes by a 600VA UPS, you will need a much bigger supply to power multiple devices.
A more expensive 2,000VA UPS would be able to power around 4-5 computers for the same period of time before shutting off.
The 1,000VA UPS below is priced at just over R1,200 on Takealot’s website.
Braais and gas cookers: R299 – R899
By having a simple gas cooker around, you can still food despite your electricity being turned off.
Gas cookers are cheap and easy to operate, and start from R500. The prices below were taken from Makro’s website.
Inverters: R6,500 – R32,000
If you truly want to continue as normal despite outages, you can use an inverter to convert energy from a battery bank to power major appliances.
The input and output voltage of inverters is important to consider when setting up a backup power system, and must be a key consideration when buying a solution.
It is important to check what voltage your appliances are rated for and ensure that you choose a sine wave inverter if you are powering major electrical appliances – as this is more efficient.
The 1,200W Ellies power inverter shown below will not be able to power heavy-duty electronics like heaters and geysers, but can power a TV, lights, and other devices for a few hours in the event of a power failure.
A more expensive 4,000W inverter priced at around R32,000 can deliver power to demanding electronics for much longer.
An entry-level inverter from Builders is shown below.
Rechargeable Lights: R199 – R799
One of the most important things to buy as load-shedding sets in is a rechargeable LED lamp which will provide your home with enough lighting.
LED lamps are very power efficient and relatively cheap. Certain lamps will also include USB ports for your to charge small devices with, such as a smartphone.
The lamps shown below are available from Takealot.
Power banks: R150 – R400
To avoid running out of battery on your smartphone or tablet, ensure that you have a fully-charged power bank on hand for when the power goes out.
The average smartphone has a battery capacity of between 2,500mAh and 3,500mAh, and you should get a power bank which can charge this several times – or which can charge multiple devices.
For a more permanent solution, you can look at installing a solar array and linked power system at your home.
A solar installation will cost several hundreds of thousands to completely take a family home off the Eskom grid, but ensures a stable power supply.
Elements which will need to be purchased for a comprehensive system include solar panels and a sun tracker, battery banks, power-tracking systems, a backup generator, chargers, and sundry cables and conduits.