The country may be hit by some ‘scheduled rolling blackouts’, but that doesn’t mean we should stop having fun. Although it may feel like we’re back in the stone age, and traffic seems to add hours to your commute, there are ways to make the dark times more comfortable for everyone.
We’ve gone ahead and created a list of the best gizmos and gadgets to own (or gift this holiday, wink wink) when load shedding hits. Some of ‘em will help light up ya life, some will be ‘needs’ more than ‘wants’, and others will make time pass quicker. No, we’re not suggesting a time machine (although that’ll be awesome), but rather things that’ll entertain you and the fam.
Philips Floor Care SpeedPro Max Aqua | R10,000
If you’ve ever thought “I don’t really need a vacuum cleaner”, let us correct you: you need THIS vacuum cleaner. We’ve actually used this model and, what an absolute joy it is cleaning stuff now.
The SpeedPro Max Aqua is completely cordless, and charges via a mount you can position anywhere on a wall. Preferably inside. It does take a while to fully charge (think 3-4 hours), but it’s totally worth having a portable vacuum cleaner. It has three ‘settings’, with three different nozzles, and is fully customisable. The best part? The main fitting has LED lights on the head, so you can see where you’re vacuuming.
Nintendo Switch Lite | R4,000
Obviously, we’ve got a Switch console in this list, because we’re geeks and need to get our game on. Even when the power’s off. And the Nintendo Switch Lite is the best portable console available right now.
The main reason we’ve chosen the Lite is that its battery lasts around one hour longer than the big-boy Switch, which means you’ve got slightly more playtime if it’s fully charged. It’s also cheaper, smaller and comes in more colours. The platform is also getting some big titles added to it regularly — the most recent of which is Overwatch (you’ll need an internet connection for that, though). But get yourself the new Pokemon Sword or Shield, and you’re set for four hours.
Mini UPS 12V for your router | from R625
Let us blow your mind right now — you can get a small UPS for your modem and router to power them during load shedding. These little buggers will keep your router on for around 5 hours (depending on the UPS size), so should last you through a no-power session.
The one we tracked down is a 12V 3,700mAh UPS that costs R625 (without delivery, mind). You can even opt for a splitter that’ll allow you to power both your router and your CPE if you’re running a fibre line for an additional R45. Remember that you’ll need to power both the router and the wall-mounted CPE for the fibre to function.
LED flashlight x Battery pack | R100
If you’re not into LED candles (yes, fake candles — looking at you, Brett), then this LED flashlight/battery pack is what you need. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but that typically impacts the price. This one costs R100 (excluding delivery)
It’s such a basic gizmo to own, and it’ll come in handy more than just load shedding time. The 100 Lumen LED light on the head won’t use much power, so this little dude will last you days, if not weeks on a single charge. Plug your phone in, though, and it’ll deplete far quicker. This one we found has a 2,600mAh battery pack on board, which will keep your phone topped up through the dark times, all while adding some life into your life.
Consol solar lights | R200
Just because the power’s out, doesn’t mean your house can look trashy. For people who like the finer things in life, the Consol Solar Jar is a great addition to any home left in darkness.
How does it work? Simple. It’s like someone took one of your ouma’s jam jars, slapped a solar panel on it and put some LEDs on the inside. Voila! Consol Solar Jar. These are especially nifty for night time, and can even charge up using lights inside your house before the power goes out. We use them for board games and reading, mostly. And they’re safer than candles.
Jabra Elite 75t True Wireless Earbuds | R3,800
In this list, we’re going to consider that you’re already set up with a battery booster (still boosterless? Go to our load shedding survival guide first). Which, in turn, means that you’ll have a charged phone. And hopefully, some offline-available music to listen to — now you need some earphones.
We absolutely love the Jabra range, and normally we’ll keep them for a fitness tech compilation, but the Jabra Elite 75t True Wireless buds still hold up as some of the best (if you’re not after Airpods). These babies last 7.5 hours on a charge, and the case holds a total of 28 hours on a charge. Other than that, they’re mighty comfortable, waterproof and offer voice-assistant capabilities.
Portable Gas Stove | from R320
This is starting to feel like a camping list, but if you’ve got any camping kit, you’ll know that it comes in mighty handy when the power goes out. Especially when you get hungry — so opt for a portable gas stove for your tummy needs.
If you don’t have a gas cylinder yet — you can pick one up from Builders Warehouse for R390 (3kg). Once you’re all gassed up (no pun intended), get yourself an Alva portable gas stove. This one has two plates, so cooking a meal should be hassle-free. This also means you can boil some water for coffee, so that’s a win.
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 | R1,400
There’s at least one way to turn a dark house into a party — just add choons! We never go anywhere without a little Boom, or rather a Wonderboom. If you’re still lost — a portable (read: wireless) Bluetooth speaker.
We’re still hanging on to the OG Wonderboom, but the second iteration is available, and it’s absolutely brilliant. The Wonderboom 2 can last 13 hours on a full charge, which will give you more than enough juice to get through a load shedding session. Are there other Bluetooth speakers? Sure. Will they have the mighty sound at this size? Doubtfully.
17Pin Juistar Portable Juice Blender | R600
We all know that one person who can’t go without their shakes — whether it be protein, yoghurt or juices. Just because the power is out doesn’t mean that you should stop bulking up, or whatever those peeps do.
Enter the Juistar Portable Blender. Its practical design makes it easy to juice (and mix shakes) pretty much anywhere and without power. Gone are the days of buying bulky juicers, because this gizmo can go it just as well. And all the contents are ready in the cup after smushing.
For those with deep pockets: Tesla Powerwall | from R140,000
You’ll probably recognise the Telsa moniker here. Yes, it is a product made by Elon Musk’s electric vehicle company. The Powerwall is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can easily supply a house with backup power when it goes out. Sounds like the perfect solution for Saffas, right? Well, it costs R140,000 — and that’s excluding installation.
But if you’re ready to invest for a dark future and have spare cash lying around, a company called Rubicon is currently taking pre-orders for South Africa. It’ll cost you R140,000 for the product, an additional R20,000 for the Backup Gateway and somewhere between R10,000 and R15,000 for installation. The Powerwall supplies around 13.5kWh of usable capacity when the grid goes off, which is ideal to run lower-capacity household appliances on. Y’know, like the TV, lights and a computer. It won’t keep your larger appliances running for too long, though.