Load-shedding destroys devices and appliances — how to protect them

King Price has seen a 96% increase in claims regarding load-shedding-related power surges that have damaged its customers’ appliances.

According to the insurer’s client experience partner, Waynand van Vuuren, the power surges can fry computer equipment, fridges, TVs, distribution boards, and various other appliances.

“We’re getting a massive number of claims for ‘fried’ computer equipment, fridges, TVs and even distribution boards caused by power surges,” said Van Vuuren.

To this end, the company has settled more than R25.3 million in claims for its residential customers over the past year.

“But there are several steps you can take to avoid having to replace your expensive appliances,” Van Vuuren added.

These include unplugging electronics, installing surge protectors, using an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS), and using alternative power sources like solar or a generator.

According to Van Vuuren, the most effective means of protecting your appliances is to unplug them in preparation for load-shedding.

It is also the cheapest and easiest solution, provided you know when your power is scheduled to go off and come back on.

“That way, you’re 100% protected from power surges,” said Van Vuuren.

UPS systems are also an effective way to protect valuable appliances, and when working, they can provide you with enough time to save your progress and shut your equipment down safely.

They also feature built-in surge protection.

“It’ll protect them from the power surges that often occur when the power comes back on,” added Van Vuuren.

UPS systems come in a range of sizes for different use cases. The larger the device’s capacity, the longer you can keep running your equipment when the power goes out.

Example of a surge protection device for distribution boards

An alternative power supply, such as a generator, inverter and batteries, or a solar system, can keep your equipment up and running during load-shedding.

However, it is essential that a qualified electrician installs such systems and that they receive the necessary certificate of compliance.

“Alternative power supplies must comply with safety guidelines, and they must be installed by a registered electrician,” said Van Vuuren.

While portable generators can be cost-effective for fighting load-shedding, they must be correctly connected to your power supply.

“Simply plugging a generator into a house plug is known as back-feeding and it’s not only dangerous, [but] it may result in any damage not being covered by your insurer,” Van Vuuren added.

Many insurers, including King Price, recommend that their customers install surge protection — which could become a requirement to settle power surge-related claims.

“The most effective surge protectors are connected directly to your distribution board by a qualified electrician,” said Van Vuuren.

“Another option is to use surge protector strips on all your plugs, which provide a certain level of protection against surges caused by the power coming back on after an outage, or by lightning strikes.”

In May 2023, Van Vuuren warned that although surge protection isn’t compulsory for King Price’s policies and cover, it may become a requirement in future.

Momentum Insure chief actuary Rudolf Britz echoed that distribution board-installed surge protectors are the most effective.

“It is best to unplug sensitive devices before load-shedding is suspended,” said Britz.

“This is inconvenient though, and the best solution is to install surge protection in the distribution board itself.”

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Load-shedding destroys devices and appliances — how to protect them