2023 could be the worst year for load shedding on record in South Africa.
- Relying on cell towers and mobile networks to stay connected during load shedding is no longer feasible.
- Extended outages and stolen base station batteries mean that mobile base stations are often completely down, or experience a drastic drop in speed, during outages.
- But if you have fiber internet at home, you can keep your data connection – for less than R1 000
- Here’s how fiber optic UPS units compare – and why it’s a great add-on even if you already have a larger UPS.
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2023 could be the worst year for load shedding on record in South Africa. Last year, the country experienced at least 200 days of power outages – and in just three months to 2023, we’re already a third of those outs. And things aren’t going to get better anytime soon.
The implications are far-reaching – especially if you’re eager to stay connected during the extended Stage 6 race, when most mobile networks can’t keep up with your call and data needs.
Unreliable mobile network during uninstall
South Africa’s leading mobile network has been warning for some time that connection disruptions are imminent as tower batteries struggle to keep up with repeated power outages and rampant theft.
Criminals are stealing hundreds of tower batteries Every month – If your local tower is a victim of this, you will lose your mobile and data connection when the load decreases.
But even those with upgraded and safe batteries will struggle, especially during extended stage 6 outages. That’s because most tower batteries take about half a day to fully charge, which is nearly impossible if power is out for at least 11 of a 24-hour day.
This amount of discharging and charging also causes the battery to drain faster, and even a healthy phone battery can struggle to keep up with a prolonged power outage.
Innovation and price war in UPS market
The prolific nature of South Africa’s electricity crisis has produced some admittedly perversely good news.
Ongoing load shedding has led to a slew of innovations in the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) market—new products priced lower than when they first appeared, amid confidence that the crisis won’t go away anytime soon.
Competition for these gadgets is also fierce in online stores, so it pays to shop around.
update | Vumatel restores fiber service in parts of Gauteng after major outage
While many people used clunky multipurpose UPSs in the early days, many of these whirring, beeping, and rapidly draining machines were expensive and outdated. If it’s pure connectivity you’re after, or you want to make sure you stay online through the third hour of stage 6, then the clear winner in this category is the plethora of fiber optic router battery packs that are now available in Easily available at competitive prices.
These little boxes—most of which are no bigger or heavier than a router—run off about four high-capacity lithium-ion batteries, which should get you through a full four hours under healthy conditions. They’re silent and start up automatically in the event of a power outage – most with no noticeable downtime.
what to look for
- The most critical thing when purchasing a mini UPS for your fiber optics is compatibility with your setup, followed by battery power and quality.
- Most micro UPSs typically have two DC outputs or a splitter cable, which is essential to keep fiber optic routers and optical network terminals (ONTs) powered.
- If your router and ONT run on different voltages (this information is usually on the device label), you will need a router with a dual voltage selection option.
- As far as battery power goes, more is usually better — though if all you’re doing is powering your router for four hours, you don’t need to overdo it. Most fiber optic UPS units have a capacity of around 8800mAh and a Li-Ion battery, which is usually enough to pass several Stage 6 tests.
Plug and play – for most people
If you live in a home with fiber optics installed, just plug the router and ONT into a mini UPS — usually a flat wall-mounted box.
But keeping fiber alive is more challenging if you live in a residential area with centralized solutions, ElectroMechanica’s Clayton Vosloo previously told News24.
With fiber in some residential areas, you have an ONT box outside that controls the fiber going into your house. From that ONT box, it goes into your house to a router that connects you to the internet.
In this case, you would need to request the body corporate to install UPSs at ONT sites worldwide, which should already be in place at this stage of the crisis. Even in this case, you’ll need a little fiber UPS to power up your router.
Don’t expect more than an internet connection
A mini UPS can’t provide more power than your router, ONT, CCTV camera or cell phone – and not all of it at the same time. At best, you should think of them as a way to keep the router and ONT connected.
But while UPSs with larger batteries can take hours to recharge, these small power stations can often resume operation during the most relentless outages, making them excellent failsafes for staying connected.
As with most UPSs, not all UPSs are created equal. They are only as good as the batteries inside. However, by choosing a reputable brand with at least four 2 200mAh batteries, you should be well aware of keeping your fiber optic internet powered for hours at a time for at least 18 months, and considering South Africa’s electricity crisis, you may need to look for alternatives.
Here is a comparison of four miniature fiber optic UPS options:
Gizzu 36W 32Wh 8800mAh Mini Dual DC UPS
Gizzu 36W 32Wh 8800mAh Mini Dual DC UPS.
UltraLAN mini uninterruptible power supply.
- Single DC output with split cable
- Online Rating: 9.2/10 (970+ reviews)
- price: eat and drink (R619); Givez (R695)
Vizia WiFi UPS
Vizia WiFi UPS.
- 15 600mAh lithium-ion
- Single DC output with split cable
- voltage selection
- Online Rating: 9.4/10 (840+ reviews)
- price: builders (R1 399); eat and drink (R1 479); excellent (R1 899)
Volcano Mini UPS
- 8 800mAh lithium-ion
- Dual DC output
- voltage selection
- Online Rating: 9.4/10 (660+ reviews)
- price: The number of clicks (R719 released); excellent (R799); computer fanatic (R899)