Load shedding
(Getty)

  • You can keep your fibre internet online during loadshedding for a capital outlay of less than R1,000.
  • If you don't live in the wrong sort of neighbourhood, that is.
  • For a little extra, you can also keep some other electronics going during loadshedding.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.


South Africa has been hit by a renewed bout of rolling blackouts this week as ten generation units broke down. 2020 is on track to be the worst year yet for load shedding.

Those still working from home have found that "hot-spotting" during load shedding can be frustrating - mobile towers are not reliable during power outages.

So, if you are working from home on a laptop with the battery power to get you through the two to four hours of scheduled power outages, it may be worth considering a relatively small investment to keep your fibre internet connection going during loadshedding too.

But the news is not all good, depending on your setup, says Clayton Vosloo, the product manager for uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems at ElectroMechanica, a company that primarily provides the corporate and industrial sector with various power solutions.

If you live in a housing estate, and you don’t have a passive “Optical Network Terminal (ONT)“ box inside your house, you might not have an easy plug and play solution.

"With fibre in some housing estates, you have an ONT box on the outside that controls the fibre coming into your house,” says Vosloo. “From that ONT box, it comes inside your house to a router, that provides you with a connection to the internet.”

If you only have access to the router, powering this up with a UPS won’t keep the ONT box outside powered up - unless you cable up an extension into the back of the UPS and to the ONT box outside – which is most likely a job for a professional electrical company, and could upset your body corporate too. 

Fortunately, Vosloo says the majority of new fibre installations, and particularly those in standalone houses, have these ONT boxes inside - and that plus your router are easy to keep online with relatively small capital outlay.

“As long as you’re able to use battery power to keep both of them powered up, you’ll likely be able to run a fibre connection throughout load shedding - it just depends on where that ONT box is, and where your router is,” says Vosloo.

Installation of a mini UPS that can keep these ticking over is usually a simple plug and play process - and depending on what else you need to power up, and how much you’re willing to spend, you might be able to keep other electronics running at the same time.

Although some cheap mini UPS devices may do the trick for part of load shedding, Vosloo recommends nothing smaller than a 1 kilo volt-ampere (KVA), or 1000VA, UPS.

Online stores have dozens of options available at 650va or less, but Vosloo cautions that these may be too lightweight to even keep just a fibre line going for a decent amount of time.

“Opting for a 1000va UPS means you’ll have an additional internal battery inside to give you more backup time - but it obviously costs a little bit more,” he says.

A basic unit that meets these minimum requirements typically costs between R800 and R3,000, depending on the brand, additional features, noise levels, and included accessories like cables.

Many UPS devices may also need a separate IEC adaptor, or kettle plug, to power up your internet devices. If that sounds like too much work, a DC UPS might be an easier solution - but it won’t keep anything else powered up, and depending on the capacity may not make it through a full bout of load shedding.

Here are some of the UPS options to keep your fibre internet connection going during loadshedding and other power outages.

Mecer 1000VA Line Interactive UPS

RCT 1000VA Line Interactive UPS

Eaton 1100VA Line-Interactive UPS

LinkQnet 1000VA AVR Line Interactive UPS

UPS Multi-Volt 12-24V Battery Power Bank WiFi Router

Mini DC UPS (7800mAh) Backup Battery

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