Not everybody can afford a generator, or solar panels or a gas-powered alternative energy source (they are nice and quiet though). But load-shedding is still a reality for South African residents and you’ve got to do something with the electricity down-time that we’re all being so lovingly treated to.
How do you get by when the power’s out and there’s nothing to do but sit in the darkness waiting for the next patch of people to get their turn while you actually walk about your home without bumping into things (for a change)? There are ways to endure power outages and then there are ways to endure power outages. This is how Stuff does it.
1 – Candles/matches
Don’t go selling candles and matches short. They’ve worked for a damn long time when it comes to banishing the darkness and these items should be a standard item in your home anyway. You never know when you’re going to need to light up the night after the zombie outbreak happens. As far as these things go, you’re going to want to go for plain white candles but don’t go too cheap (cheap being under R10). There is such a thing as a crappy candle, after all. Locally-made Price’s Lighthouse range are value for money, they won’t simply burn down to nothing in the space of an evening and they’re actually pretty bright. Keep them away from your curtains, pets, kids and iPad though.
R13 | makro.co.za
2 – Water
Load-shedding doesn’t kill your water supply, right? Are you sure that you’re prepared to take that chance? We’re not saying that you’re preparing for a utilities apocalypse but… you’re preparing for a utilities apocalypse. Being prepared isn’t going to cost you much and you’ll at least be able to make coffee in the event of a pumping station going down – provided you have a few of the other items a little lower down on this list.
From R20 | shop.pnp.co.za
3 – Biltong
We all have to eat. Keeping something edible on-hand for when the power goes down that doesn’t require boiling water, a microwave or oven is never a bad idea. There are a lot of options available to you but we’re going to stick with biltong on this one. It’s a South African list, might as well include a very South African non-perishable foodstuff. Plus, biltong is just as edible when the lights are on. Win-win, see? Otherwise you could go all boring and get yourself some tinned food, preserves and anything else that can be opened and consumed.
Price varies | You know where your favourite outlet is, don’t pretend
4 – Energizer 2-in-1 Standing Light
With your backup system in place (candles don’t need charging, after all), it’s time to look at something a bit more modern. The Energizer 2-in-1 Standing Light is the sort of thing you want in your car boot in case of a late-night blowout, as it acts as a torch (with an adjustable lamp) but you can also switch your lighting to the back panel on the handle/barrel of the torch. This LED strip is bright enough to light up a room and there’s enough left over to spill over into the next room. Just… don’t look directly at it, or Eskom won’t have to turn the lights off to wreck your sight.
From R300 | capeunionmart.co.za
5 – Energizer Rechargeable AA 1,400mAh Bundle
Batteries are your friend in times of trouble. Or darkness. As long as they’re rechargeable, because the last time we looked at the price of a non-rechargeable set of Duracells we promised ourselves we would never do that ever again. The most common type of battery you’re going to need around the home is the AA, though you’ll find AAA and even those crazy rectangular things as a rechargeable. If you don’t already have a set, grab yourself a combo bundle with at least four batteries and the charger. More batteries can be added as needed and don’t forget to charge flat cylinders when Eskom has the power running.
R255 | takealot.co.za
6 – Cadac Safari Chef
Biltong is all well and good but you’re going to need some real food. A combination gas bottle and cooker is a serious option for those facing the blackouts without the assistance of a gas hob (the kind that doesn’t need electricity, that is). And since there’s no excuse for going small when you’re cooking – ever – you’re going to want to go this route. Getting your hands on Cadac’s Safari Chef, which has a whole range of attachments and cooking options, is one way to keep your gourmet going. It uses gas cartridges and refills aren’t expensive. A small price to pay for a hot meal during a winter Eskom outage, we think. Also: you can use it to make coffee.
R1000 | game.co.za
Till The Lights Come Back
7 – Kindle Paperwhite
Now that the essentials are taken care of, you need something to keep you occupied until Eskom decides to re-flick the switch for your area. If you’re a literary type, then you need to have a Kindle Paperwhite in your home. The side-lighting makes use during load-shedding possible no matter what time of day it happens. Even in pitch darkness. Turn the brightness up to max and the Paperwhite will also put in a credible impersonation of a torch. Plus you’ll… you know, be reading. Which is always a positive thing.
R3,500 | takealot.com
8 – New Nintendo 3DS XL
But if you’re not a reader, then you’re going to have to do something else. Handheld gaming is always fun and since we know that you’re not the type to mess around with Candy Crush, Clash of Clans and other things of that sort, you’re going to want a real gaming console. Ninty’s latest 3DS XL is a fantastic idea. Large screen, impressive battery life, a huge library of good-to-awesome games (most of the latter are just released) and it’s big enough to be used by adult hands comfortably. Why no PlayStation Vita love? Because they’re a massive mission to find in SA at the moment but use em if you got em.
R3,200 | awx.co.za
9 – JBL Charge 2 Bluetooth speaker
Okay, you don’t game, you don’t read. What do you do? Music is universal, right? And thanks to smartphones everywhere, you’ve probably got a decent supply of your favourite tunes on hand for those times when you need them. And load-shedding definitely qualifies – it’s amazing how much you can endure when it has the right soundtrack. And sometimes you want to share the tunes, not always a possibility with the average smartphone. A Bluetooth speaker, like the JBL Charge 2, will help you chase the darkness back. In this particular case, you’re trading a bit of sound quality for a 6,000mAh battery (so you know it’ll last) and the Charge 2 will also charge those smart devices you forgot to plug in before the power died.
R2,100 | incredibleconnection.co.za
10 – Notebook/Tablet/Smartphone
Look, we know that’s an iPad just above this text but that’s not a recommendation. If you’re reading this then there’s a strong chance that you have a notebook, a tablet or a smartphone somewhere in your home. And that means that (oh joy) you can catch up on your work when the power’s out. Yes, even on a smartphone.
Who are we kidding, we’re actually referring to watching video content on your portable computing device. It doesn’t matter what you have, as long as it’s recent enough to hold a charge for at least four hours so even an Acer notebook should get you through a session of load-shedding with your sanity intact. If there’s any recommendations we could give, it would be that you get something capable of running VLC – which covers Windows, Mac, Android and iOS but look to your system requirements, really. You want to be able to play all those shows you were meaning to catch up on.