Four tips to keep the lights on during load shedding

Issue 9 2020 Editor's Choice

Eskom announced this year that load shedding is expected to continue as power demand exceeds supply and more downtime is needed for overdue maintenance of the system. According to the latest data published by the state-owned utility, Eskom’s forecast shows that there is a high-risk probability of load shedding, every week for the next three months.

It is estimated that load shedding could have cost South Africa as much as R338 billion over the past ten years, according to a report from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). This includes loss of production, where most businesses use electricity for machinery, technology and light to complete the day’s work.

Matthew Hall, product director at Rectron.

A challenge that businesses are facing today is a large portion of their workforce is working remotely due to COVID-19 and social distancing regulations. However, to remain productive they need to access data, from alternative locations, creating an ‘always on’ environment, even during load shedding.

To ensure businesses remain ‘always on’, here are some tips and tricks to ensure your business remains productive during rolling blackouts.

1. Invest in the right equipment

UPS (uninterruptible power supplies) are powerful units that can be plugged directly into your devices and electrical systems. They are suitable for industries, offices and homes that need constant power supply and cannot afford to switch off their appliances.

Another option that will minimise the effects of load shedding is inverters. An inverter’s role is not to provide power, but to convert power to compatible forms. Since the time an inverter takes to restore power is not as fast as a UPS system, they are good for homes and industries where data loss is not an issue.

The RCT MegaPower 54K from Rectron combines the convenience of a power bank with the long-lasting power of more robust power solutions. The device includes more ports than your average power bank. It has two universal adaptors that can fit both two-pin and three-pin plugs.

This means you can connect multiple devices at once and can keep your laptop charged for several hours, while mobile routers, smartphones and tablets can be charged fully several times over.

2. Be smart with your electronics

It is vital to turn off all electronics and unplug devices from wall sockets. Equipment can be damaged by sudden power surges so protect your devices by waiting until the power has been restored BEFORE you switch the plugs back on.

The list of items that could be affected include cellphones, laptops, desktop computers, servers and LCD screens, all of which could be badly damaged when the power comes back on due to a spike in electricity flow. It is advisable to install surge protection equipment on sensitive electronic devices to avoid unwanted damage.

3. Plan for offline work

Shifts between the load shedding stages has made it almost impossible for businesses to plan ahead, ultimately affecting their productivity. However, it is vital to monitor your load shedding schedule regularly, so you have enough time to prepare for the expected.

Before load shedding kicks in, begin saving your work regularly in case of the unexpected power outages. By charging your equipment (laptops, smartphones and tablets) beforehand, it may be possible to outlast the load shedding slot. Ensure power banks are full to ensure you can keep the lights on during blackouts.

4. Long-term planning

There are some bigger ways to reduce a home’s electricity consumption that should be considered as part of a longer-term investment and cost saving exercise. This includes installing solar panels and switching out electricity-run stoves and ovens for gas.

As backup or moving to an off-grid style solution, with the inclusion of a solar power storage unit and photovoltaic system, valuable solar electricity can be stored and used during times of load shedding. Depending on how many appliances you use, they should give you three to four hours of power.

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