Here is why buying a generator is not always the answer to Eskom load shedding


With load shedding a reality, the conversation has moved from ‘Oh Eskom’ to ‘how do I get power?’ The consumers “knee jerk” reaction to repeated power outages is to immediately go to market wanting a generator as they seem to be the most widely known and perhaps the least understood.

The Mr. Power team are constantly asked to provide a solution ‘to run the whole house’ which should be thought through carefully as homes differ in size and needs. Roger Bulgin, from Mr. Power, guides his clients through a basic power-audit to prioritise needs and make an educated decision. Below is a list of the common myths:

1. MYTH: my whole home needs power 
THE TRUTH: not everything needs back up power during an average four hour outage. Arrange the list below in order of importance: (from Mr. Power’s experience, light, food, communication and entertainment are usually at the top of the list):

Item to be powered

Wattage Required

Must have power

Would like power

Don't need power

Air conditioner

1000 - 2000

Cell phone

2 - 6

Desktop PC and monitor




DVD player

30 - 50

Fridge / Freezer (newer models)

100 - 200

Garage door



3000 - 4000

Hair dryer

500 - 1500

Hot plate

1500 - 2000









Pool pump


Satellite decoder


Single cfl or filament lamp or globe

20 - 100

Single LED lamp or globe


Sound system





800 - 1500

Tumble dryer



100 - 300

Washing machine


2. MYTH: food in the fridge will perish during load shedding?
THE TRUTH: as long as you limit opening and closing the door, the temperature will not suffer dramatically and the food will be safe for eating

3. MYTH: during a power failure I will have to shower or bath in cold water
THE TRUTH: provided your geyser was heated prior to load shedding you will have between 150-200 litres of hot water available. An average shower uses 20-40 litres of hot water. With a Mr. Power showerhead you can reduce this by 40%. Plus, with the Mr. Power Geyser Controller the geyser is heated during off-peak times and can save 40%-60% of your monthly hot water costs

4. MYTH: I can’t cook without electricity
THE TRUTH: explore a gas option – either a gas hob for your stove or a more simple portable plate connected to a gas cylinder. There is always the traditional braai option of course

5. MYTH: if the power fails unexpectedly, I will return after work to a dark home
THE TRUTH: create a list of which lighting, exactly, is a necessity, then research cost effective alternatives such as solar lights, battery operated globes and of course the good old fashioned candle. Plug-in emergency lights, strategically placed, are ideal for unanticipated power outages

6. MYTH: I can’t read or watch TV without power and can’t entertain my family
THE TRUTH: based on Mr. Power’s calculations above, it is easy to keep your entertainment centre going with a Mr. Power back up inverter (whether it be TV or internet based) as it draws around 500 watts

7. MYTH: I must have a generator
THE TRUTH: your power needs could probably be solved using an inverter solution where you simply plug the emergency power supply into the wall socket and the items you need to run are plugged into the back of the unit

8. MYTH: installing and having  a generator is easy and simple
THE TRUTH: a generator is expensive to purchase, requires regular maintenance and can be costly to run as they need diesel or petrol to run. This means buying and re-fuelling manually and fairly regularly. A 30kW generator uses up to 8 litres of fuel per hour which is around R100 per hour. They are noisy and are required to be placed in a well-ventilated and easily accessible location

Remember to switch off (or unplug) all appliances immediately when the power goes off, (either at the plug or electricity board). This will protect them from the surge of power when the electricity comes back on again. Pre-preparation is key which includes family or business ‘load-shedding drills’.

For more advice and information on how to lighten your load, please visit