South Africans have had to deal with the country’s embattled power utility Eskom implementing rotational load shedding for over a decade now. In recent months, load shedding has become a daily occurrence with the company announcing blackouts constantly and especially as SA nears the winter months.
The fact of the matter is that load shedding is something we simply have to live with as the government is currently saying that load shedding will be here to stay for the next several years, and perhaps even beyond that.
Below are a series of tips and steps South Africans can take to deal with daily load shedding at an affordable price and make their lives a bit easier:
- Do the Easy Things First
1. Check the load-shedding schedule to plan your electricity usage. Buy a small gas cooker if you don’t already cook with gas.
2. Make sure that your electronics, like your cell phone and laptop, have sufficient battery life.
3. Buy a solar cell charger, a car phone charger, or a cell phone power bank.
4. Buy rechargeable lights. They last for up to 10 hours when fully charged.
5. Buy a surge protector plug for your television, computer and fridge. This will protect your appliances when the power comes back on.
- Research, Research, Research
Calculate the daily minimum amount of electricity needed for the household. Do you need the lights, fridge, and TV on? Or only the lights and TV?
• You can then find out how much electricity each appliance needs.
• With lights, identify the wattage of your lights (it is usually printed on the globe itself).
• With appliances, find the labels on the appliance that state the power usage.
Kettles and electric stoves use a lot of electricity over a short period of time, so it’s best not to include these. You can rather use a gas stove to heat your water or cook your food. It is also best to exclude your geyser, as it uses a lot of electricity.
Now that you know how much power you will need, find out what the different options will cost you. Load-shedding can last for between two and four hours at a time. Therefore, an ideal battery system capacity of five hours should be sufficient.
A battery backup system consists of the following components:
- Battery Chargers
Charges the rechargeable batteries from the AC mains power while there is no load-shedding.
Note: Sometimes the battery charger is built into the inverter.
- Power Inverters
Converts the DC battery power into usable AC power during load-shedding. Use an approved inverter. Grid-tied inverters must be registered with the municipality and installed by a qualified person.
Stores the electrical power for later use.
If your battery system is a standalone appliance that you plug devices into, there are no compliance issues. If your battery system (including inverter) is interconnected with the wiring of your house, it must be declared via the municipality’s SSEG process to confirm that EITHER it is operating safely as an off-grid system OR it is compliant and authorised as a grid-tied system (usually in conjunction with PV). Use an inverter approved by your municipality and installed by a qualified person.
The size of the battery system will depend on the equipment to be powered during load-shedding. An inverter that can provide 1,000 Watt (10.5A) continuously output and around 600Wh energy will be required if you need very limited usage with an average load of 240W, for example :
- 4 to 6 LED or Compact Fluorescent lights (CFL) amounting to 24W for LEDs or 45W for CFLs
- A TV and a decoder use 30W when off and 150W when in use
- A cell phone charger uses 0.5W not charging and 6W when charging
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An inverter that can provide 2 000 Watt (10.5A) continuously output and around 1.2 kWh energy will be required for an average 3-bedroom house where the user will be limited to an average load of 480W.
• 10 to 15 LED or CFL lights
• A TV and a decoder use 30W when off and 150W when in use
• One energy-efficient fridge/freezer, managed well, will consume 100W – 200W
• A laptop uses 65W while charging
RCT MEGAPOWER MP-T2000S POWER TROLLY
An inverter that can provide 5600 Watt (17 A) continuously and around 4.8 kWh energy will be required for bigger houses, small offices and shops that want to be unaffected by load-shedding. This option will be limited up to a load of 1500W.
• All lighting and a TV will be operational
• Multiple fridges and freezers can be operated but must be opened as little as possible
• Laptops and a printer can be used
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With all three options, all cooking – including the boiling of water – is achieved using gas and not electricity. In addition, none of these options will be able to power the geyser. A qualified electrician can install the battery and connect it to certain circuits so that only some items are powered during load-shedding.
Alternatively, you can buy a stand-alone uninterrupted power supply (UPS) backup battery system, which allows you to plug in one or more items (similar to a generator). RCT has a number of options available starting at R 5,999.00 for a 1000W inverter and battery.
For more information on the products in the above article, click here.
Edited by Luis Monzon