Like a seriously unwelcomed but all-too-familiar guest, load shedding has returned. To help South Africans get through the powerless days and dark nights, Brights Hardware has prepared a list of eight must-have items that will keep your home (and office spaces) functional during a power outage.
Battery Powered LED Lighting
“Battery-powered LED lighting is essential during power outages,” says Luis. “There is a wide range of rechargeable LED light strips, lanterns, and torches available that make keeping the lights on during load-shedding easy. You can even get a rechargeable LED desk lamp so that the kids can continue doing their homework during evening power cuts.”
Another great item to have in the home are intelligent LED light bulbs. These bulbs come in either a screw or bayonet configuration and can be used as a standard light bulb in any light fixture but they stay on during load-shedding as they hold charge for up to four hours.
In addition to rechargeable and battery operated solutions, there is a wide range of solar-powered lighting on the market today. These range from spotlights/security lights to solar lanterns, garden lighting, and even pool lights.
“Solar-powered lighting is a great solution in a sun-rich country such as ours,” advises Luis “There is no cost to recharge them, and many are practically “set and forget” and will come on automatically after sundown.”
Boiling water and getting meals prepared during power outages is impossible without a gas stove or cooker. Thankfully there are many different options available to consumers today – whether it is a large six plate gas hob and oven or just a simple, portable table-top one or two-plate gas cooker – and many more options in between.
“Many people are choosing to change their ovens over from electrical to gas. Not only does this mean you can carry on your dinner preparations during a power outage, but your electricity bill will also be reduced through the introduction of gas appliances,” says Luis.
Portable Power Bank
We all want to stay connected, especially in the dark. No electricity coupled with no means of communication is not a great combination. “Portable power banks are a fantastic solution to ensure that you don’t run out of cell phone battery life,” advises Luis. “These compact gadgets can also charge other devices such as tablets, portable modems, and speakers.”
A Surge Protector
It is a good idea to purchase a surge protector for your home or office. Orlando Luis, CEO of Brights explains that a surge protector is an electrical device that is used to protect equipment against power surges and voltage spikes that can be caused by power cuts. “Surge protection can range from plug and play devices to systems installed at the distribution board by a registered electrician.”
Luis goes on to caution that some household insurance policies stipulate that they will not cover damage caused through power surges if the proper surge protection is not in place – “it is worth checking with your insurance provider.”
Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS Sine wave Inverter)
An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is an electrical apparatus that provides emergency power. A UPS differs from a generator in that it will provide near-instantaneous protection from power interruptions by supplying energy stored in batteries. It is a type of continual power system. “A UPS is typically used to protect hardware such as computers, data centers, telecommunication equipment or other electrical equipment where an unexpected power disruption could cause injuries, fatalities, serious business disruption or data loss.”
If budget allows, investing in a generator is a great way to make power outages less intrusive. “There are many different models and options to consider,” says Luis. “Entry-level 2 stroke generators, such as a 950-watt unit, are unreliable if the petrol/oil mixture is not consistent, so Brights recommends starting with no lower than a 4 stroke 1200-watt generator.”
“A good option would be a Ryobi 1200-watt pull-start unit which has a run time of seven hours,” says Luis, who explains that with a 2 stroke model you have to premix the oil and fuel first in the correct ratios, whereas with a 4 stroke unit the fuel is housed in a separate tank and the oil in the engine like in a motor car. Luis further explains that the higher the wattage of the generator the more power it outputs and so the more electricity it generates.
Going upwards from here good options for an affordable household use generator to power lights and basic appliances include:
- 2500-watt, 4 strokes, pull start generator with a 10 hour run time and overload protection breaker;
- 3500-watt, 4 strokes, key start generator with a 7 hour run time and automatic voltage regulation (AVR);
- 5500-watt, 4 stroke, key start with 8 hours run time and AVR;
- 6500-watt, 4 stroke, key start with 8 hours run time and AVR;
- 7500-watt, 4 strokes, key start with 7 hours run time, and AVR.
“All of these units use unleaded fuel,” says Luis. “There are also diesel-powered generators on the market. More expensive models have a built-in change over switch that automatically switches over from Eskom power to generator power when needed and they are big enough to power large homes and smaller businesses.”
Inverters – Because Silence is golden
This then introduces the question – what about people who live in complexes and housing estates that are not allowed to run a generator because of the noise pollution? Luis says that the best option here is to purchase a pure sine wave inverter with batteries. All these units are silent except for the cooling fan which blows on the side. They also switch on automatically during load shedding.
“Brights sells a popular 600-watt, the 12-volt unit that is perfect for your home electronics. This unit requires one deep cycle battery. The next size up is the 1000-watt 24-volt inverter which requires two deep cycle batteries. This unit gives you a longer life span during load shedding because of the two batteries.”