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How Alternative Power Solutions could Mitigate Load Shedding

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Jenna Delport
Jenna Delport
I’m a tech writer, world traveller, avocado-eater and dog lover, not always in that order.

South Africa continues to feel the effects of load shedding, resulting in a decrease in productivity and disruption to business operations. Eskom announced earlier this year that load shedding is expected to continue into 2021 as power demand exceeds supply and more downtime is needed for overdue maintenance of the system.

Some of the effects of load shedding include:

  1. Damage to electronics: the surge of electricity when the power is returned upsets the steady voltage flow in the electrical system.
  2. Loss of production: where most businesses use electricity for machinery, technology and light to complete the day’s work, loss of electrical power means that the day’s target cannot be completed.
  3. Data loss: power outages can cause data loss and corruption. This means that you may have missing transactions or in the worst-case scenario your data may become unusable.

While smaller businesses might get by without power supply for a few hours, many large companies suffer from the loss of thousands and even in some cases, millions of Rands. Now more than ever, South Africa is in need of reliable, high-end technology to mitigate the impact of blackouts.

A challenge that businesses are facing 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.

Shift between the load shedding stages has made it almost impossible for businesses to plan ahead and ultimately affecting their productivity. It is vital for businesses to investigate alternative power solutions such as solar power, inverters and UPS (uninterruptible power supply) systems if they are to ensure business continuity and alleviate the adverse effects of load shedding. 

Alternative Power Solutions

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

UPSs come in a variety of sizes and capacities, allowing you to run some of your basic electronic equipment such as ADSL/ fibre network router, cell phone chargers, point of sale devices, computers, tills and more.

UPS solutions are ideal for the datacentres, where it can be installed into servers and connected to the business the network. This gives businesses the ability to monitor power usage and battery power during load shedding, ensuring data will not be lost in the event of load shedding while networks and websites remain up and running.

An alternative option that will minimize the effects of load shedding is inverters. An inverter’s role is not to provide power — but to convert power to compatible forms. It converts the direct current (DC) electricity, that comes from off-grid sources, into alternative current (AC) electricity.

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. When investigating inverter systems, it is important to look at how many electronic devices you would want to run at the same time, rather than how big or small your house or business is.

As back up 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.

The size of the inverter systems, photovoltaic system and batteries dictate how long they will last during load shedding. Depending on how many appliances you use, they should give you three to four hours.

Once these hardware solutions have been installed within an office space or household, the adverse effects of load shedding can be completely sidestepped, ensuring you or workforce remain productive and minimizing business disruptions.

By Matthew Hall, Product Director at Rectron


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