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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Power outages - a la Africa!

So, 2 yrs ago we had some serious power outages, and load sharing with power across the country. The generator (ESKOM) said that it was out of their control, they needed to increase their charges, and had to build a barrow full of new power stations. As soon as they got budget for new plants, and an increase of around 33% for their power, no more outages? HUH?

OK, so last week we had load sharing in our town. I think it was an isolated case, where a substation suffered a loss of a technical sort, and there was no standby unit available, so they took 2 - 3 days to repair. Shit happens - live with it.

What we did 2 yrs ago was buy generators for personal use. Those with big bank accounts bought big units, which are connected into their power grids, and when the national source goes down, the generators kick in automatically and power up the whole house. And when the grid comes back on line, it recognizes this, and shuts down again. Nice, simple, damn expensive.

Those like me, went out and bough smaller units (mine cost ZAR3500.00). It's a 6.5 KvA (is it? must check). Every time we needed power, I would start it up, and run a long extension to the house, and connect the fridge (one in the kitchen) and the TV. Same with the Queenies flat, TV and refrigerator. However, the extension cords get in the way, get dirty and then dirty the carpets (in Queenies flat), etc.

So this past weekend I installed a permanent set up. I bought dedicated plug points, as well as dedicated plugs. I bought two dedicated extensions.

So, I moved the generator to underneath the outside staircase. Lots of wasted space there, safe from the dogs, and can't hear it from inside. Drilled two holes through to the garage.
Then, went behind the refrigerator upstairs in our home, and popped a hole through the tiles and slab, and wherever it came out in the garage was fine!

The I measured the distance from the corner to the dividing wall, at the far end of the garage, to try and work out where to put the plug in the flat. Took the drill, went into the flat, sucked in my gut and drilled through as close to the BIC as I could. Damn, I cleared the wall by millimeters. 5mm to the left, and I would have hit the connecting wall, and not had access for the cable.
That done I installed the two dedicated plug points.
Floor mounted plugs in the house, behind the fridge.

Dedicated plug point in Queenies cottage. Will be out of view when the puts her bedside chair back in it's place.

 Pulled in the cables.
Then, outside, I fitted two plug point to the wall. One for the house, one for the flat.

Connected two short leads to the generator, and into the plugs. And that's me done. In business. Now, if the power goes down, all that needs to happen is for someone to start the generator, it has a battery for electric start, and a pull handle if the battery is flat.
Top view of the generator in it's new place. 20lt tank. Can run for up to 10 hours. Just need to get a cover for it, for dust and stuff, and maybe put out some rattex for any nasty mice and things who may decide to get into the wiring.
But, I found that you can jump start it with the motorbike, so no pulling required. Then, when it's up to speed, switch the isolator on the generator to on, and there you go. Queenie can then connect her TV set up to the one extension, her fridge or kettle to the other. And the Princess can get one of us to do the same in the house.

Anyone need some assistance / guidance on doing something similar at their home, give me a call.



Jayne said...

Nice & neat jobby you've done there:-)
I'd like to say we'll be doing the same this year (buying a genny etc) but with the latest fiasco to hit this gawdforsaken project (for Eishcom no less) we have no friggin intention of staying!
I sooooo badly need to rant, I really do, but daren't do it on my blog. It's like living in the Sandpit at times, with Big Brother watching/monitoring what I say.

Fishman said...

Extend the exhaust and bury it in a bed off golf size pebbles about a foot and a half deep The you will never hear it run

Wreckless Euroafrican said...

Thanx Jayne - If you need to rant - send it to me - I will post it as an anon byline! and you can then link to it!
Fishman, do I bury the exhaust extension, or the generator?

Jayne said...

Now that's a good idea! Stay tuned :-)