Generators and Stuff to keep the Lights On

Generators and Stuff to keep the Lights On

For South Africans, the Grudge Purchase of 2015, thus far, has got to be a back up generator. No longer able to rely on the country’s energy supply company, ESKOM, customers have been forced to either make a plan, or sit in the dark. And that means utilizing shrinking disposable income to purchase items that they would never have imagined they would need to acquire. Simply put it’s retail therapy of the most annoying kind.

It also means becoming an expert in all the alternatives. And in my experience there is little more boring, conversation wise, than debating the relative advantages of inverters over generators and the KVAs required to power one’s toaster. This is possibly only surpassed by the great diesel – petrol debate which is mind numbing on even the best of days but is set to rage on for years.

What makes it worse is that for some electrically challenged South Africans (defined by those who need to call an electrician when the earth leakage trips) like me, it’s even more complex, as we have been thrust into an area that we are simply ill equipped to cope with. I have never understood electricity and have always felt that like the Internet that it’s mysterious ways are known to only a few. It is magic. It is occult stuff. And only an elite group have been gifted with its secret ways and posses the knowledge as to how it fills your home and soul with light. Most people just pretend. Which simply means that we are set be ripped off whether we like it or not.

And so, with little knowledge and a lot of irritation I decided to purchase a 10kva petrol generator with an automatic voltage regulator (or AVR for those of us in-the-know). Not so simple it would seem, as I had not even touched on the point of origin debate. On my journey of discovery I determined that Chinese imports are not so good, Italian are better and Germans are best. And prices reflect accordingly. That is, if you can actually find one in this electricity starved country of ours.

Most stores have none. Those that do have the wrong sizes and if the size is correct it probable hails from Madagascar (not known for their generator production). And if you do find, there can be no dilly dallying as in the time that it takes you to remove your reluctant credit card from your wallet, some other wise guy might well have “pipped you at the post” and paid for the last one in the store, with the next shipment being 3 dark months into the future.

So my advice to those who have held on this long and have decided that they can take it no more – identify, decide and deploy. It’s a hateful purchase. It’s a waste of money but there is no value in fantasizing what you could have better done with the resources. More importantly, it’s not the store assistant’s fault (I realized that the hard way when following my outburst they were suddenly out of stock).

And so, I guess the solution is to make peace with this affliction, as it is part and parcel of living in this blessed country of ours. Like the post office and like service-delivery, electricity is scarce and we might take comfort that whilst we still have the weather how bad can it be?

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