If you’re South African, you’re already probably familiar with our loadshedding issue. It’s being going on for so long, do we even remember what life was like before the power was cut off for 2 – 4 hours every 4 – 8 hours a day?!
We all now know the pains of forgetting to boil the kettle in time, or not having our devices charged. Thankfully, living in 2024, we now have a range of solutions available to us. Depending on your budget and your needs, you could kit your whole house out with independent power, or just be able to use the essentials when Eskom plunges you into darkness.
We’ve spent a good amount of time figuring out what’s available and what works for us, so I thought I’d share my findings with you.
5 Solutions for Back-Up Power in Your Home
Ever find yourself fumbling for a flashlight or missing your favorite show when Eskom decides to play hide-and-seek with the power? I get it. That’s why I’ve dived into the world of backup power solutions.
Let me spill the tea on five cool ways to keep your home running when the lights decide to take a break. No PhD in electricity is required – just some practical, budget-friendly ideas to bring a little more “power” to your loadshedding game.
Starting with the big ticket — solar power! I have friends who have their homes connected to full solar systems, and they don’t even know when loadshedding is! This can be a costly solution, and it’s best if you own the home you’re in, but it’s well worth it.
Homeowners and business owners alike can benefit from embracing solar systems, turning the sun’s energy into a reliable power source. That said, solar power isn’t restricted to homeowners and businesses, as tenants can also get a solar setup. You’d need to get permission from your landlord first, though.
A solar system not only provides a sustainable and eco-friendly energy alternative but can also liberate you from the shackles of loadshedding. By harnessing the power of the sun, you can keep your lights on, appliances running, and business operations uninterrupted during those dreaded power outages.
While the initial setup cost might seem daunting, it’s an investment that pays off in the long run through reduced electricity bills and increased energy independence. Basic costs include solar panels, inverters, batteries, and installation, with total costs ranging from R45,000 to R275,000, depending on your energy requirements.
Before making such a huge investment, it helps to determine what size solar unit you’ll be needing. You can do this by converting your daily usage into watts — you can find this on your DB board. Then, multiply that number by 1,000 to figure out the total wattage (kWh) you need to generate each day.
I know it sounds complicated. So, if you need help determining energy requirements, Sun2Solar are a local company who are eager to help. They can help you determine what you need to ensure you get the best out of your solar setup, plus their products are state-of-the-art and fairly affordable.
If you want to take control of your power supply and say goodbye to the darkness – solar energy may just be your next saving grace against loadshedding.
Back-Up Battery Power
So, you’re not ready to dive into the whole solar power thing or maybe you’re renting? No worries—there’s a more pocket-friendly option: back-up batteries. We currently have two Gizzu power stations in our home, one runs the WiFi and the other is for a lamp, TV, etc. They keep us going for most of loadshedding, and because I work from home, I’m using them every day.
Portable Power Stations: Think of these as your superhero power banks. They’re small, mighty, and can charge up your gadgets during load shedding. Perfect for keeping your smartphones, laptops, and other tech toys alive.
Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS): This one’s like a mini hero for your computer setup. A UPS gives you a bit of extra time during a power outage. It won’t run your TV, but it’s got your back for keeping the essentials running until the lights come back on.
DIY Power Banks: Feeling crafty? You can create your own power bank using rechargeable batteries and a power inverter. It’s a budget-friendly way to have your own customized power solution.
Car Battery Inverters: Yes, you read that right—car batteries. With a bit of know-how, you can rig up a setup to tap into your car’s power for some emergency electricity.
Why Back-Up Batteries Rock:
- Money Matters: These babies won’t break the bank. Back-up batteries are a more affordable way to keep your devices charged and your sanity intact during load shedding.
- Take Them Anywhere: Portable power stations are like the cool sidekick you can take anywhere. Need power in the bedroom? Living room? Backyard barbecue? They got you covered.
- Set-Up Is a Breeze: No need for a Ph.D. in electrical engineering. Back-up batteries are easy to set up, and you won’t have to call in an expert to get them running.
- Do More with Less: They might not power your whole house, but they can handle the essentials. Keep the lights on, charge your phone, and maybe run a fan. It’s the power of priorities.
Things to Keep in Mind:
- How Long Will It Last: Check the battery life. You want to know how long your gadgets will keep humming during load shedding.
- Juicing Them Up: Some batteries can soak up the sun with solar panels. It’s like giving your power bank a tan for extra sustainability.
- Give ‘Em a Little TLC: Regular check-ups are key. Test those batteries and make sure everything is good to go when the lights flicker off.
We don’t use a generator, but I know that they can run a lot more than an invertor or UPS. Although I also know that people are complaining about the noise and we’d probably not get away with it in our complex.
Generators are a reliable and versatile option for backup power. They come in various sizes, from portable units suitable for residential use to larger generators for businesses. When the power goes out, a generator can provide electricity to essential appliances and keep your home running smoothly.
Portable generators are suitable for powering a few key appliances during load shedding. They typically run on gasoline or diesel and need to be placed outdoors due to exhaust emissions.
Consider factors such as the generator’s capacity, fuel efficiency, and noise level when choosing the right one for your needs. Regular maintenance is essential to ensure your generator is ready for use when required.
If you live in a home with a built-in gas stove, lucky you! But you can use gas to help you cook your loadshedding dinners even if you need a more portable option. I bought my little camping stove at the start of 2023 and I am so glad I did!
The stove is one-plate, it takes a small gas cylinder that costs R40 (and we can do almost a whole month of loadshedding on one, maybe two cylinders), and it’s easy to pack into the cupboard when “loadshedding is suspended”.
This is something we’re still working on throughout the house. Currently, I have a cordless vacuum (thank you for the gift, mother), and that has been a life-changer in terms of cleaning during 4-hour midday slots. There are a few other rechargeable options we have our eyes on.
For those annoying 8 pm to 10 pm slots, you can get rechargeable LED lamps or lanterns. These not only serve as a practical light source but also contribute to energy conservation. Placing them strategically around your home ensures a well-lit environment without the need for electricity.
Cape Town’s (actually of SA’s) hot summers call for investing in rechargeable fans. These offer a temporary reprieve by providing airflow without relying on the power grid. Charging them during electricity availability ensures their functionality during outages.
And then while you can braai, you might also want a little bit of a vibe while the power is off. Portable rechargeable speakers offer a simple solution for keeping your favorite tunes playing. Consider a rechargeable e-reader for uninterrupted reading, providing an escape into literature without the need for traditional lighting.
Tip: The best part about these is you can take them with you, if you visit a unique accommodation that maybe doesn’t have many loadshedding solutions.
Tips for Optimizing Rechargeable Devices
Charging Stations: Designate specific areas in your home as charging stations for rechargeable devices. This organizational approach ensures that devices are consistently charged and ready for use when needed.
Rotation is Key: To extend the lifespan of rechargeable batteries, rotate the usage of devices. This practice helps distribute the load on batteries and prevents wear and tear.
Check Charge Levels: Regularly monitor the charge levels of your rechargeable devices. Establishing a routine for checking and recharging ensures that you’re well-prepared for upcoming loadshedding events.
Top Tip: Download ESP
Eskom se Push is completely independent from Eskom itself, but the app has the most updated and reliable information. From last-minute stage changes to suspended loadshedding, it’s just always best to know when you’re about to lose power.
Plus, if you’re traveling around South Africa, you can add in your intended destinations and check those schedules too.
Recommendations and Solutions for Loadshedding
Remember, it’s not just about enduring load shedding; it’s about finding ways to thrive despite it. From well-lit spaces with rechargeable lamps to staying cool with portable fans and ensuring communication with cordless devices, the key is to tailor solutions to your specific needs.
So, charge up those batteries, create designated charging stations, and perhaps even consider a chat with the friendly experts at Sun2Solar for personalized solar advice. With a proactive approach and a bit of innovation, you can turn load shedding into an opportunity to create a more sustainable, efficient, and comfortable living space.