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Backup power systems to get through Stage 6 load-shedding


South Africa has been plunged into stage 6 load-shedding from 16:00 on Tuesday, 28 June 2022, increasing the frequency and length of rotational power cuts.

Eskom chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer said they did not decide to escalate load-shedding lightly, as stage 6 is a step-change from the lower stages of load-shedding.

Stage 6 load-shedding doubles the frequency of Stage 3 power cuts, meaning power is cut to areas for 36 hours over four days — an average of nine hours each day.

When the country is under stage 6 load-shedding, the rotational power cuts are implemented in bouts of two and four hours, with an additional 30 minutes to restore power.

The “uptime” you get between bouts of load-shedding typically lasts between three-and-a-half and five-and-a-half hours at stage 6.

MyBroadband considered what kind of battery backup system you would require to power some basic electrical equipment through four-and-a-half-hour load-shedding sessions.

Our requirements were to power a Wi-Fi router, TV, DStv decoder or streaming stick, and a couple of LED lights.

According to Energy Use Calculator, the average Wi-Fi router draws 6W. This works out to 27Wh over four-and-a-half hours.

The average 55-inch TV draws less than 60W of electricity or 270Wh over four-and-a-half hours.

LED lights are known for using less power than other light bulbs. We selected 5W-rated LED lights for our analysis.

Over four-and-a-half hours, a 5W bulb will use 22.5Wh. Two bulbs will use 45Wh.

The power consumption of DStv decoders varies depending on the model. A DStv Explora has a maximum power consumption of 45W, which means it will use 202.5Wh over four hours.

Streaming sticks use less electricity, often using a standard 5W power brick.

The average power usage of some basic electrical equipment is summarised then the table below.

Power usage of basic electrical equipment over 4.5 hours
Equipment Usage
Wi-Fi router 27.00Wh
Two LED lights 45.00Wh
55-inch TV 270.00Wh
DStv Explora / streaming stick 202.50Wh / 22.50Wh
Total:  544.50Wh / 364.50Wh

Four-hour backup solutions

During stage 6 load-shedding, power can be cut for 4.5 hours at a time, with around 3.5 to 5.5 hours of “uptime” between bouts to recharge batteries.

While uninterrupted power supplies (UPSes) are often sufficient to power a few pieces of equipment simultaneously during 2.5 outages, most can’t last through longer power cuts.

It is also important to note that most UPSes — and many battery backup solutions — use lead-acid batteries that are not designed to discharge below 50%.

The watt-hour capacity of a backup system should therefore be at least double that of the total consumption of the electrical equipment you want to run through load-shedding.

Several battery backup systems that could power your electrical equipment through 4.5-hour bouts of load-shedding are listed below. Your needs will vary based on the power consumption of your equipment.

Mecer Home Office Inverter Trolley UPS — R7,399

Mecer Trolley Inverter (720W) — R7,699

Solarwize Smart power backup trolley — R9,100

Gentech 800 Watt Hybrid Inverter System — R9,495

Kapa Energie-1000 Pure Sine-Wave UPS Inverter (1,000W) — R11,999

Power4Less Mobi Volt 1.2kWh sinewave inverter backup — R14,999

PowerOak EB150 1,000W Inverter with  1.5kWh Lithium-Ion Battery — R20,999

EcoFlow DELTA 1260Wh Portable Power Station — R22,589

Now read: Illegal strikes at Eskom holding South Africa ransom

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