Tips on how to survive load shedding
I have reached my limit for being without power during load shedding. It's time to join the Gennie Generation and power up when the power is down!
So last night was our first official initiation as one of the Gennie Generation. I have been saving up over the past few months and was finally able to invest in a decent inverter-generator that will keep us supplied with electricity when the power goes off. This was also a night to ascertain what exactly we would need as far as equipment and supplies to allow us to cook food, have light, keep the home warm during winter, and possibly even watch TV or work on our PCs.
If you, like me, are just looking for a way to manage a home when the power goes off, I thought it might be an idea to put together a list of essential items you need to buy or have on hand:
I have previously discussed this topic on Home-Dzine and I invested in a quality inverter-generator that supplies 2000 Watts of power - more than enough to run essential items and sensitive electronics. If you plan on using a generator to run electronic equipment, make sure that the gennie is designed for this purpose. There are a lot of cheaper models out there that can destroy electronic equipment and you will find more information on this topic here.. If in any doubt as to whether or not a specific generator is the right one... ask!
GOOD TO KNOW
Your first priority is to read the instruction manual for running a generator safely and within recommended guidelines. It is imperative that the generator be placed away from open windows and doors when in use.
Now that you have the most important piece of equipment, you're going to need some supplies from your local Builders. That will include heavy-duty electrical cable and / or extension cables. In this instance the generator doesn't accept a standard 3-pin plug and a 20 metre length of cable was wired to the gennie plug, with a double adaptor at the other end. This allows for extension cables to be plugged into the adaptor to power up appliances and lighting.
SAFETY FIRST: Make sure that extension cables are placed out of the way to avoid accidents. When it's dark young children and pets won't see the cables - put them around the outside of a room and out of harm's way.
While at your local Builders, you will also need a Jerry Can for petrol. This can be filled up with '95-unleaded' at you local petrol station. Store this in a safe place when not in use, somewhere where it is out of reach of children, is well ventilated and has easy access for when you need it.
NOTE: For townhouse dwellers. Gather together your neighbours and look at the possibility of joining together to purchase a generator that will supply 3 / 4 homes with enough electricity to power up some lighting and small appliances.
You're not going to be able to use your stove (unless it runs on gas) or microwave during load shedding so you might want to consider buying a gas bottle or two and a few accessories to fit on top. Builders have a selection of gas bottles in different sizes and you can buy a small one for running a light / heater, or a larger one for cooking. I have a small gas hob fitted next to my electric hob and I always make sure the bottle is full and ready for use.
With gas you have the option to start up an outdoor braai or cook indoors on a stovetop. To keep usage down to a minimum when cooking with gas during load shedding use a steamer or pressure cooker. A warm winter stew, bobotie or chicken dish are easy to prepare and you can pop all the ingredients into a pressure cooker and cook a meal in a fraction of the time than if you were using more than one pan and lots of different ingredients. Plan ahead for meals that can be cooked quickly and easily in a pressure cooker or steamer.
DID YOU KNOW: An electric kettle or coffee machine uses on average 1500 Watts to run - that's way too much power. Use a small gas stove to heat up water for tea or coffee during load shedding.
Make sure to swap out all your old light fittings and globes with CFL lamps. These use far less power than halogen or incandescent, so your gennie will run for longer and use less fuel. Buy a couple of portable strip lights with CFL tubes that can be plugged in anywhere to light up a room. Again, you will find a comprehensive selection of lights and lamps at your local Builders.
We are only at the beginning of winter now, so expect plenty of load shedding over the next few months. Be prepared, plan in advance and you should be able to survive load shedding without too much inconvenience.