Every South African home that relies on an internet connection to get anything done regularly would benefit from having one of these connected to the magical internet box. At the very least, you can keep doom-scrolling without racking up a massive data bill. At best, you can carry on making money to finally get that solar installation done.
Volkano is known in South Africa as a budget tech brand. Side-stepping the inconveniences of load shedding in this country is expensive. You can kinda see how these two might go together. The Volkano Constant Mini Network UPS is an affordable 8,800mAh battery pack designed to keep your internet running without interruption and… you should probably go and buy one. Now. Unless you have solar, anyway.
Hard to locate
The slim blue box that was delivered to Stuff’s offices recently is surprisingly hard to locate in stores. That’s probably got more to do with demand than its attractiveness. Inside the box is a white rectangle that’s little more than a battery with a circuit board and some ports attached. See that? That’s your new best friend when the lights go out.
The simple unit consists of a front-mounted power button, visual battery indicator, and USB-A port. The rear is a little more complicated. There are two LAN ports, a couple of power outputs, and a power input, for keeping the battery charged. It doesn’t look like much but like any other UPS, setting it up correctly can make your life quite a bit easier.
Walk in the park
Setup is relatively simple. Some reading is involved. Weirdly, you don’t really have to consult the manual. Instead, you have to check the voltage required by whatever you’re connecting to this battery intermediary. Nobody wants to blow up their fibre or 5G router as the result of a miscalculation, after all. The cables that accompany the Volkano Constant UPS are fairly self-explanatory but you can always consult the documentation if you’re feeling lost at sea. Basically, though, replace whatever powers your device with one of these cables, connected to the appropriate output port.
It’s worth mentioning that not every bit of gear will be supported. Some mesh WiFi systems demand too much power for the Volkano Constant UPS to supply power in the event of an outage. Plus, anything with a proprietary input is also off the list. Stock parts only, we’re afraid. But that’s most folks in South Africa, in which case…
It doesn’t get more complicated than the initial setup. There’s no app. There’s no browser-based interface. There’s only uninterrupted power when Eskom decides to whip away yours. And, yes, the need to reboot the Volkano Constant UPS if it hits a low-battery state. The reboot should happen once the Mains power has returned, according to the warning label. We… never quite got there. Even during four-hour load-shedding sessions, the battery stood up to the task of keeping Netflix streaming away.
This will vary according to your own hardware, of course. Four hours is supposed to be the upper limit but with a single device, we reckon you can do more than that. Connect two or three devices (via power cable, USB-A, or via Power-over-Ethernet) and you’ll see that uptime drop considerably. It’s only an 8,800mAh battery in there, after all. It won’t perform miracles. But it’ll keep you working from home on your laptop long enough for Eskom to get its act together, which is what counts. The best part? It costs about R800.
Volkano Constant Mini Network UPS verdict
The Volkano Constant Mini Network UPS isn’t terribly expensive. It’s not complicated or attractive either. It’s designed to do one thing and that’s to keep one small device going when the lights go away. It does it well enough that you’ll only notice an internet interruption if there’s an issue with nearby cellular towers. Even that issue, which we experienced, is only temporary. Once the tower is back up, so is your internet. Then it’s back to work or distracting yourself from the slow decay of South Africa’s electrical infrastructure. You know, business as usual.