The constant threat of load-shedding remains a major problem for South Africans, especially as there is often not much warning before controlled blackouts begin.
In addition to inconveniencing residents on a regular basis, load-shedding also produces risks for electronic equipment used by businesses and consumers.
Eskom has stated that consumers should take measures to protect their electronic devices from power surges and other irregularities caused by load-shedding.
This is especially important when the power comes back on, as this can result in a momentary surge that could be damaging to some electronics, including your television or computer.
In a Facebook post published on 19 October, Eskom advised customers on various measures they could take to mitigate the risk of their electronics being damaged due to load-shedding.
“If the power goes off, it is safer to turn off (or even better, disconnect) any electrical appliances that you were using,” Eskom said.
“Keep one light switched on so that you can see when the power returns. Clearly mark on/off switches with a piece of masking tape if necessary.”
“When the power comes back on, it may do so with a momentary surge, which may damage electronically controlled appliances such as computers, television sets, VCRs, DVDs, etc,” the power utility added.
Turning off expensive hardware (or disconnecting it) is the most important step, as power surges can easily damage important hardware if it is still plugged in and turned on when the power returns.
You should also acquaint yourself with your load-shedding schedule and ensure important devices are not running or plugged into an outlet when the power cuts out – especially your desktop PC or other sensitive electronics.
Dangers and protection
You might not always be in the position to disconnect important hardware before the power is cycled, however, which is why you should invest in surge protectors for added protection.
Many plug adaptors have surge protectors built-in, which can be a great way to protect important devices from the dangers of load-shedding.
If your hardware does get hit with a power surge, the symptoms can vary depending on the device and the strength of the surge.
Desktop PCs hit with a power surge would most often see their motherboard or PSU fail, while TVs may be completely fried unless they include some sort of built-in protection against power surges.
Finally, if you are concerned about your TV or PCs resistance to load-shedding and are not able to follow the guidelines above, you should check whether your insurance policy covers surge damage to electronics.