Cheapest ways to keep your Internet connection online during load-shedding

Mini uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) and compact battery banks can help keep your home Internet connection online during load-shedding.

Eskom recently announced that Stage 2 load-shedding has been extended on Monday and Tuesday evening after implementing rotational blackouts on Saturday evening through Monday morning.

For the next few years, the utility will continue struggling to keep up with demand as it deals with ageing power plants that have become notoriously unreliable.

One way to pass the time during a bout of load-shedding is to stream movies or TV shows, or be generally entertained by the vast amounts of content available on the Internet.

Fortunately, you don’t need an expensive or extensive backup power solution like the Tesla Powerwall to keep your Internet connection online.

As long as you have a battery-powered device like a smartphone, tablet, or laptop charged up beforehand, the only other item you will have to power is your wireless router. In the case of fibre users, the fibre optical network terminal (ONT) will also need to be considered.

Wi-Fi routers and ONTs don’t guzzle nearly as much electricity as most appliances or even lights.

According to Energy Use Calculator, the average wireless router consumes about 6 watt-hours (Wh) of electricity.

That means it will use about 15Wh for the typical two and a half hours of load-shedding.

We scoured South Africa’s popular online tech stores to see what mini UPS and battery backup systems we could find for less than R1,500.

When looking at the options, it was important to consider the difference in battery capacity specifications.

Many manufacturers and retailers prefer to use milliamp hour (mAh), like on powerbanks primarily intended for smartphone charging.

That figure must be converted into Wh before you can get a rough idea of how long it will last powering your router.

To calculate this, you must multiply the mAh number by the voltage of the batteries (typically 3.7V for lithium-ion) and divide the result by 1,000.

This helpful online tool can do the maths for you.

Be sure to check your router and ONT’s power usage before deciding which solution will work best for you.

A list of electricity consumption figures for numerous wireless router models can be found The Power Consumption Database.

It is also important to ensure that the backup power device has all the necessary ports to connect to your router and/or ONT.

Below are some of the cheapest Mini UPS and compact battery systems you can buy in South Africa to keep your Internet connection alive during load-shedding.

Mini DC UPS (22.2Wh) – R445

Mini DC UPS (32.56Wh)  — R495

Volkano Mini UPS (32.56Wh) — R619

Gizzu Mini Dual DC UPS (32.56Wh) — R705

Generic Mini DC UPS (32.56Wh)  — R750

Mini DC UPS (48.84Wh) — R846

Eco 8100 Mini DC UPS (53.28Wh) — R895

Mini UPS DC to DC (65.21Wh) — R1,250

Ellies Cube Mini (105Wh) —  R1,295

Vizia Wi-Fi UPS (57Wh) — R1,299

When it’s out of your control

If you have a fibre network provider that doesn’t have sufficient backup systems in place to keep its network online during load-shedding, you might also want to consider a backup mobile data package.

It is best to test a few different mobile networks in your area during load-shedding to see which performs best at that time.

Even when you have found one, having another network’s SIM is a good idea, as your number one option’s towers in the area might have had their batteries drained due to prolonged load-shedding.

You can then buy an hourly or daily data bundle at a discounted rate for the times that your main connection is not working well.

Now read: Tesla to the rescue — How many Megapacks Eskom can buy for its R14-billion battery project

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Cheapest ways to keep your Internet connection online during load-shedding