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The small business owner’s guide to surviving load shedding

Article provided by Santam

Be prepared: know your schedule. Make a note of the latest load shedding schedules for your area to give you a better idea of when load shedding can possibly affect your business.

Risks of loading shedding for the small business owner

Depending on the type of business you run, whether you are a guesthouse owner, plumber or franchisee, here are some of the top risk areas associated with loading shedding:

Theft and burglary

Remember that criminals also study load shedding schedules, and tripped and false alarms are great opportunities for opportunistic burglars. Make sure that your alarm system has a working back-up battery, try and keep as little cash on your premises as possible and be extra vigilant about access to your premises and securing your perimeter.

Stock spoiling

It’s important to always leave your freezer and refrigerator doors closed to preserve the cold temperature inside. A full freezer should keep food safe for up to two days and a refrigerator for four to six hours.

Production halting

If your production relies on machinery, and staff cannot put in additional hours on weekends or evenings, perhaps then consider buying or hiring a back-up generator.

Battery life

If your laptop is your life, make sure your battery is fully charged and invest in a portable modem with sufficient data.

If your business requires good lighting in order to perform intricate work (e.g. medical professionals), it is very important that you familiarise yourself with the schedules and plan ahead.

Damage to electronics and machinery

Surges or spikes – caused by the electrical supply being switched on and off – can cause damage to electronic equipment and machinery. If your business relies heavy on electrical equipment and machinery, you might want to look into surge protection plugs, back-up batteries or UPS.

Six things that can minimise the impact of load shedding

1. Generator

The size of the generator you will need depends on your electrical requirements. For example, if you need to power three computers, a kettle and lights, a 2KW generator (could start at approximately R2000-R5000) should be sufficient. If you have a shop with fridges, air conditioning and a till, you will need at least a 5KW one (could start at approximately R20 000). Generators can be mobile or fixed (like an air-conditioning unit). Take an inventory of your most vital electrical appliances when you speak to an expert so that they can suggest the right option for your business.

2. UPS

An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) works both as a back-up battery for your computer and regulates the amount of power it receives. As soon as the power switches off, the UPS switches on. In short, it makes sure that your equipment performs a proper shutdown until you then connect to a generator, preventing, for example, data corruption.

3. Back-up batteries

Be sure to keep your laptop and smartphone charged before the power goes off. Alternatively, invest in battery packs or even solar-powered charging solutions.

4. Surge protection

There are various devices available to protect your electrical equipment from surges – when the supply voltage fluctuates. The most cost effective ones look like multi-plugs and let you plug multiple components into one power outlet.

5. Solar-powered solutions

There are many solar-powered options to power your electrical gate, charge your cell phone and laptop or provide much-needed lighting.

6. Back up your data

If your business is computer-based, it’s crucial to back up your data often and to put measures in place to keep your data safe. The last thing you want is to lose files or work you’ve done during this time.

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