In the past few weeks, since load shedding escalated to Stage 4 and Stage 6, resulting in added hours without power and increased events per day, we noticed problems with the kitchen refrigerator, as described in yesterday’s post here, and the washing machine.
We didn’t connect the issues between the two major appliances until I tried again to get the washer to run a complete cycle. I’d often run back and forth to the laundry area outside five or six times to reset it, taking several hours for one load to wash, rinse and spin.
This morning it dawned on me that the process we’re going through with the refrigerator of shutting off the power for 24 hours may be the same process we need to do with the washer. Once we somehow complete the must-do two loads, we’ll unplug the washer and wait a few days to plug it back in. Maybe it will also reset.
Here is an interesting article about how load shedding damaged appliances. It makes all the sense in the world. From this website:
ECA(SA) Associate Member, Major Tech, says South Africans are adapting to continual rolling blackouts, more politely known as load shedding. But, says Major Tech’s Rhodam Evans, while everyone is cursing Eskom for being left in the dark or stuck in traffic for hours at a time, the damage caused by load shedding is far more than lost time and the macro impact on the economy.
The financial problems caused by load shedding will also impact individuals in their homes and businesses as they are faced with electrical products that seemingly stop working for no reason. This will naturally also affect suppliers and installers of electrical equipment, who will be accused of either selling poor quality products or doing an inferior installation job.
The reality is that, while poor quality products and bad installations can cause problems, load shedding will damage even the best electronic products on the market, eventually leaving them broken beyond repair. The reason for this is not the loss of power, but the surge of current and voltage spikes when the electricity is switched on again, says Evans.
While many think switching the power on or off is a simple task, the way load shedding works means that every time the power comes back, some technician has flipped the switch at a substation, suddenly sending a stream of around 11 000 Volts back into the circuit.
Single-phase power in the average home runs on 230 V. Therefore, when the lights come on again, all the appliances in that particular suburb suddenly get a surge and voltage spike much more potent than 230 V. This only lasts for a microsecond. Still, it is enough to damage electrical equipment, from your television to your lights.
Electronics can’t last against voltage spikes.
“Even the most well-designed equipment of the highest quality can not handle these surges. Many electrical devices are built with some form of protection against voltage spikes, but these are designed to handle surges that happen occasionally, not daily, or even multiple times daily. For example, many circuits have metal oxide varistors (MOV) to protect against occasional surges. Still, even these wear out and can’t protect the circuits after the constant spikes due to load shedding.
“Major Tech has seen lights which have actually exploded after one spike too many,” adds Evans, “as well as USB ports that are black shells of what they once were. Thankfully, these results are not common, but damage to electrical equipment is.”
Surges and voltage spikes cause damage every time, although most often, the equipment carries on working. Eventually, the equipment will fail, and it may seem illogical when considering which particular device or LED light fails or what path the current takes (it looks for the shortest path to the earth), but the damage is a given
What can be done to protect yourself?
Since electricity users in South Africa are at the mercy of Eskom and can do nothing to resolve the problem, the only solution is to take precautions and protect your electronics. These precautions cost money, but they will save money in the long term because few suppliers are willing to constantly replace devices that electrical surges have damaged. A warranty does not cover malicious damage to the system, and it does not cover surges and voltage spikes.
“Surge protectors have therefore become vital necessities in a world with load shedding,” explains Evans.
Level 3 surge protection happens at the wall sockets. These surge protectors plug into the wall socket and your equipment is then plugged into the protectors. This will protect your equipment from all surges. Level 2 protection is the ideal as this is added to the circuit board by a qualified professional to protect the whole premises.
Evans warns that surge protectors don’t last forever either and while they will protect the electronic equipment you use every day, they will also eventually need to be replaced. He also advises that there is an “enormous difference” between a surge protector and lightning protection. “A lightning strike in your vicinity can release far more power than Eskom, and a surge protector will not stand up to the pressure.”
“Dealing with load shedding is a challenge, and we should all take responsibility for the equipment in our houses and businesses,” concludes Evans. “Suppliers will not simply continue to replace equipment damaged by load shedding as this practice will devastate their businesses.
The best remedy is to unplug as many electrical devices as possible during load shedding and install surge protection on those that are not or cannot be unplugged.”
For more information on how to handle surges and voltage spikes, please view Dan Moyane’s interview with SAIA Insurance Technical Adviser Susan Walls about how load-shedding can cause damage to electronic devices and appliances, which has led to more frequent insurance claims https://www.enca.com/news/impact-load-shedding-appliances”
If unplugging the washer for a day doesn’t work, we may have to go back to having Zef and Vusi do our laundry. The problem with that is the fact that it takes about three days for them to be able to return the items to us. With our limited supply of clothing, three days is a long time. We are hoping we don’t have to go that route. It’s extra work for Zef and Vusi, and they are busy enough as it is.
This morning we had more wildlife visitors than we imagined possible during this school holiday period when visits are usually less frequent. But, our wildlife friends are enjoying it here, especially Lollie, our resident warthog, and now the nyala family of three who visits several times a day; Norman, Nina, and Noah.
The nyalas aren’t big eaters; they nibble a little. But we think since nyala is so rare in Marloth Park (they are the only family), everyone feeds them. By the time they get to us, they’re full. They all jump over the little fence quite easily and seem to like the fussing we do them over. Here and there, I toss them a little cabbage and carrots. They certainly love those, as do all the antelopes.
At 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs., today, we are meeting up with reader/friends Carrie and Jim at Two Trees, overlooking the Crocodile River, whom we met here about six months ago. They found Marloth Park from our site and bought a fantastic house here! It will be fun to see them again and hear about their home-buying experience. Hopefully, we’ll also see some wildlife along the river.
Have a fantastic day, and be well.
Photo from one year ago today, July 5, 2021: