File photo: The high usage of open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) over the past two weeks has resulted in limited diesel stock being available. Picture Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA)
File photo: The high usage of open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) over the past two weeks has resulted in limited diesel stock being available. Picture Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA)

How load shedding affects your electric appliances: Use these hacks to avoid a costly expense

By Marchelle Abrahams Time of article published Nov 8, 2021

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With the country moving to stage 2 of load shedding for the rest of the week, it’s left many with the predicament of working around the rolling blackouts.

But there’s been another casualty of load shedding as many people complained that their electric appliances stopped working due to power surges caused by the outages.

While conducting a Twitter poll, Gumtree found that 61.6% of its respondents had experienced this very thing.

“Fluctuations in power can wreak havoc on your appliances and cause permanent damage that is often not covered by insurance,” said Gumtree marketing manager Estelle Nagel.

According to Nagel, many smart devices have micro-processors that require correct shutdown (much like a PC), which means power cuts could result in catastrophic internal hardware failures too.

“If you own an expensive smart TV or fridge, the R250-R2000 investment you’ll make protecting that device is well worth it,” added Nagel.

To avoid the expense of replacing your appliances, she suggests the following:

Surge protectors

You can find surge protectors online or at any electronics store. These devices monitor the flow of electricity that reaches your appliances and can either link to a single appliance or connect to your main electrical panel at home.

This acts as a buffer between the socket and the appliance that directs surges in power away from your electronics. “We don’t recommend buying these second-hand as they can only absorb so much damage before they need to be replaced. The lifespan of a surge protector is measured in joules – the more joules, the better.”

Uninterruptible power supply (UPS)

A UPS is a device with a battery back-up system that can supply power to your device for a matter of minutes or hours.

Even if your UPS only keeps you running for a few minutes, it will buy you enough time to power down devices safely. “It’s a good idea to get a UPS for your router at the office – that way, if nothing else, you will still have internet connectivity.”

Unplug your devices

If you can, keep your computer cables, telephone cables linked to modems and other sensitive equipment unplugged during load shedding.

Back-up batteries or solar power

Security systems are often compromised during load shedding. Installing solar security lights or back-up battery systems for electric gates and fencing will help ensure your home stays protected during blackouts.

“While load shedding will likely continue to impact all our lives, being prepared is key. There are plenty of cheap and effective measures you can take to minimise or prevent damage to your electronics,” concluded Nagel.

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