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February 18th, 2015 by

shutterstock 105305585 - South Africans Consider Generators To Cope With Load Shedding By Hayley Axford

Eskom has been implementing load shedding in South Africa since 2008. Back then, we believed it was a short term thing, with real concern only being expressed in relation to whether the lights would stay on for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Prior to the soccer showpiece, the upgrading of infrastructure also suffered setbacks from power outages, which was perhaps an indication for the dark days that would come for the corporate and industrial sectors alike.

Forward to this year, 2015, load shedding has taken on drastic schedules, which are divided into three stages to allow consumers to know the severity of the situation. Future electricity supply in the country does not look good,  with reports that the government has been briefed by the power utility that the electricity grid is unreliable and there is an urgent need for maintenance.  According to Eskom, should the system crash, it would take up to two weeks to reboot, which would result in South Africa experiencing a total blackout. This means no electricity at all. Consumers have been urged to reduce consumption in order to reduce the severity of load shedding. Recently, we experienced power cuts for three consecutive days in an attempt to prevent the national grid from being overwhelmed  as demand continues to outstrip capacity. According to energy sector expert, Chris Yelland, “We will have to learn to accept load-shedding for the next three years at least. There is no quick fix to this”. Yelland added that the controlled blackouts that have been taking place since December 2014, have had a serious negative impact on the country’s economy.

South Africans have begun putting measures in place to deal with sporadic load shedding that is to come. Until more independent power producers become active plays in the energy sector, consumers are forced to find other solutions, which is an added expense to their pockets, as they are already paying for higher tariffs from Eskom, with another price hike expected soon. While many have expressed interest in going off the grid completely, using solar power would cost approximately R200 000. The Photo Voltaic system alone will cost R100 000 per installation with a battery.

Generators are the most commonly considered options for an alternative energy source, but are also fairly costly to purchase and run. They also come with noise. Since load shedding schedules have intensified, there has been a surge in demand for generators. Before selecting a generator, the consumer would first need to decide if they want to use it merely as a standby during power cuts for simple household uses or if they would like to power their entire homes by connecting the generator to the main electrical supply. They should also calculate their expected usage to determine what size generator they should purchase. This can be done by adding the wattages of all items that are to be powered. offers a free.

Also, one would have to decide whether they would run a petrol or diesel powered generator.

Use petrol generator when:

  • Price and portability are important
  • The unit will only be used for standby purposes
  • The unit will only run for 6 hours or less a day

Use diesel generator when:

  • The generator is used for prime power supply
  • The unit is used for mining or similar applications
  • The unit needs to be built into a silent enclosure
  • The unit will be used daily for more than 6 hours per day
  • You require a true 15 Kva or larger unit


The table below, courtesy of illustrates findings on generators available in South Africa.








Supported Appliances








R1 299


10 lights, TV, decoder, home

alarm, 3 charges, desktop










R4 200


10 lights, TV, decoder, home alarm, 3 charges, desktop computer, fridge, kettle









R7 490


10 lights, TV, decoder, home alarm, 3 chargers, desktop computers, fridge, kettle, stove or microwave









R19 990


10 lights, TV, decoder, home alarm, 3 chargers, desktop computer, fridge, kettle, stove OR microwave, oven, geyser




Gemini Small Engine Service






R90 800


Most common household appliances (including pool pump)





Should you decide to use a generator, it is important to ensure that you never run out of fuel. The unit  should always be switched off before it is refueled. If the engine is still running, a spark from the spark plug can ignite the fuel and start a fire. The generator tank should never run out of fuel and should be refueled before it becomes empty. This as before the generator cuts out, the alternator does not produce the correct voltage which could result in your appliances or tools burning out. When starting up the generator, ensure that the revs are at a constant level before plugging in appliances.  Furthermore, do not use an extension which is longer than 15m without increasing the diameter of the cable to avoid voltage drops.

With the likelihood of power cuts until 2018, it’s better to be prepared and have viable options at hand, should you not wish to stay in the dark.