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Options to consider to survive loadshedding

Loadshedding is becoming a daily reality in South Africa, and is not only affecting businesses and essential services, but households as well.

Riaan de Leeuw, VP for IT division – Anglophone Africa at Schneider Electric, says it is therefore crucial to protect households and businesses against sudden loss of power or surges.

“This is particularly true of small to medium-sized businesses, who are more at risk due to their limited ability to maintain security and generate revenue during downtime,” he explains.

“And while many people are turning to generators to get them through loadshedding, soaring petrol prices mean this is an expensive and not very eco-friendly way to go. However, for both homes and businesses, a  uninterrupted power supply (UPS) can protect businesses against downtime,” he adds.

Uninterrupted power supply solutions protect and save the electronic equipment we rely on so heavily, and are scalable according to different needs, says de Leeuw.

For example, an uninterrupted power supply for basic home use, will allow a WiFi router to run, cell phone chargers to operate, and the safe shut down of a single PC, below 500watts. Read more: POWER ALERT: Eskom to continue with loadshedding this week

“For advanced home, or basic small office use, there are solutions that will enable a TV and or decoder or game console and surround sound to run. Users would also be able to keep the lights on, if connected to the DB board, and are between 1,000 and 3,000 watts. In this instance, runtime would be dependent on additional external batteries and physical load.”

Guaranteed power protection

“UPS systems are great for keeping low power devices online during load shedding and they also help to keep the power of good quality during other events affecting voltage or frequency,” says Charlie Farrow, MD of the UK’s Welland Power.

Farrow adds: “Beyond this scope, consumers in South Africa will need solutions that generate and not just store the power for later use. The most obvious of these is a generator. Generators are available in all sizes, from the small petrol inverter generators to generators from the top generator brands.”

For a basic small or home office, there are solutions that will allow between one and five PCs to run, with monitors and the router or switch to allow connectivity.

He adds that it is advisable to connect printers to an uninterrupted power supply due to power spike during start-up. “Again, users could run between 1,000 and 5,000 watts, depending on extra batteries and the physical load.”

There are also solutions to cover advanced small to medium use, which would include one to 20 PCs with monitors, the server, router or switch, and lights if connected to the DB board.

“While you would have between 5,000 and 20,000 watts, the same rules apply in terms of batteries and load,” he says.

According to de Leeuw, uninterrupted power supply offers guaranteed power protection for connected electronics, which ensures businesses can keep their doors open and maintain contact with partners and customers. “Remember, keeping Wi-Fi up and running rather than having to rely on cellular data during load shedding gives you a better chance of staying online, for longer.”

“Should power be interrupted, or fluctuate outside safe levels, an uninterrupted power supply instantly provides clean battery backup power and surge protection for sensitive equipment, giving enough time to safely power down non-essential devices and keep critical business operations up and running.

“It will also provide battery backup power and protection for equipment such as TVs security systems, gaming consoles and mobile devices.”

Selecting uninterrupted power supply solution

“When selecting the right uninterrupted power supply solution for your needs, consider that an uninterrupted power supply should have an output watt capacity 20-25% higher than the total power drawn by any attached equipment,” cautions de Leeuw.

“Moreover, runtime is important, giving an indication as to how long an uninterrupted power supply will be able to power its attached equipment in the event of a power disruption.”

Lastly, he advises to test all equipment by unplugging the uninterrupted power supply periodically to make sure all attached equipment stays powered.

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