- Load shedding causes voltage fluctuations which can damage electrical components in plugged-in appliances.
- Surge protector plugs save devices by either absorbing or clamping the overvoltage.
- Some of these plugs come with a surge protection warranty to repair or replace appliances damaged as the result of surge while plugged into the protector.
- Ellies processes claims of up to R30,000 per product warranty.
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Load shedding has the potential to wreak havoc on electrical appliances. Surge protector plugs can help limit the losses and some even come with repair or replace warranties.
With South Africa's power grid under severe pressure, load shedding has become a part of everyday life. And while the public frustration of disrupted daily routines is the most obvious symptom of rotational power cuts, Eskom's shortcomings are eating at people's wallets.
Load shedding is implemented when demand outweighs supply, and the national grid comes under severe pressure. The power is turned off according to a schedule, with the national power utility urging South Africans to unplug appliances during load shedding.
"This assists in easing overload as well as power surges and damage to appliances during restoration," notes Eskom in its warning to the public.
Load shedding causes voltage fluctuations, and these sudden surges can damage electrical components in plugged-in appliances. Unplugging appliances before load shedding kicks-in and plugging them back in once the power returns can mitigate this risk but, for many, this isn't a practical as exercise.
"Electrical appliances are designed to work with a specific voltage and damage occurs when the voltage is higher or lower than what they were designed for," Johan Klein, the chief commercial officer at Ellies, tells Business Insider South Africa.
"Two common strategies employed by surge protection devices are to either absorb or clamp the overvoltage to a safe level or to disconnect the appliances from the network if the voltage is abnormal."
In this way, surge protectors keep plugged-in appliances safe during load shedding. But not all surge protectors are created equal.
"Customers should ensure that they purchase products from a reputable supplier that are backed by compliance and mandatory safety certificates," says Klein.
"In South Africa, all electronic devices need to comply with mandatory safety requirements and specifications, such as South African National Standards [SANS] and a Letter of Authority [LOA] which allows a company to sell their products into the market thus putting the consumer's mind at ease."
Ellies, which offers a range of surge protection devices, also includes a surge protection warranty to repair or replace appliances damaged as the result of surge while plugged into the protector. Claims may not exceed R30,000 per product warranty and a list of appliances in use with the surge protector needs to be submitted to Ellies within 30 days of the purchase.
The single socket High Surge Protection Plug, which can absorb up to 16,500 Amps on live and neutral and up to 13,000 Amps on earth, retails at around R130 and is covered by the warranty. Coverage extends to eight Ellies products, all the way to the 12-Way Surge Safe Power Protector, where the two-year warranty covers a maximum of 12 directly connected products.
Importantly, the warranty does not cover damage suffered as the result of a direct lightning strike or loss of neutral, which most often occurs when cables are cut during acts of theft or sabotage.
Specialised protection products, like Ellies' Fridge Safe and TV Safe, are sold with a similar warranty to the value of R20,000.
"We see a significant increase in the sale of these products during periods of load shedding," says Klein.
Note: This article has been updated to reflect that R30,000 is the maximum claimable amount per warranty and not per device plugged into the surge protector.
(Compiled by Luke Daniel)
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