Rolling blackouts have become an almost expected state of affairs in recent weeks, and these power issues show no sign of abating. In fact, analysts claim that could take up to 10 years to fix the problem, time that South Africa does not have available as it gears up for the 2010 World Cup. 

"This does not bode well for many local companies incredibly dependent on PCs and other electrical office equipment or even individuals who’s PCs and other electrical appliances, such as fridges, DVD players and decoders, can be detrimentally affected by power blackouts and brownouts,” explains Neill Schreiber,  country sales manager: South Africa at power availability and protection solution provider, American Power Conversion (APC).
“In addition, surges or spikes can happen at any time due to a number of causes including lightning strikes, the on-rush of current following an outage, or even the presence of high-powered electrical motors such as air conditioners or other household appliances. These power fluctuations not only can cause permanent damage to expensive and sensitive electronic equipment, they often result in equipment downtime, lost productivity and lost data.
"This should also be of great concern to the local population, as South Africa is a lightning prone country, with one of the highest lightning ground flash densities in the world.”
To assist South African businesses and individuals to minimise any damage caused by power blackouts or lightning strikes, APC has put together a list of tips, providing a simple, step-by-step guide to protecting valuable electronic equipment against permanent damages caused by these power anomalies.
In brief, the six steps cover:
1 – Protect crucial electronics from harmful high voltage, caused by power fluctuations (surges or spikes), by selecting surge protectors with low-let-through voltage ratings.
2 – Ensure the safety of electronic equipment by selecting a surge protector that protects all available surge paths, including electrical cords, telephone cords, data lines and coaxial cables.
3 – Determine which devices would benefit from continued operation in the event of a power outage and support that equipment with an uninterruptible power supply (UPS).
4 – Select a UPS model with the option to add extra battery units to increase the runtime of critical devices.
5 – Use power management software to monitor the quality of power that equipment is receiving and set up the ability to automatically and gracefully shut down the system and applications running when a power failure occurs.
6 – Protect and manage structured wiring and networking applications with a UPS that enables remote management of automation functions and ensures protection in the event of a power outage.
“Companies could also look at using a generator and UPS in conjunction – generators take time to start up, which means a break in power until the appropriate power level is reached. A UPS will handle this transition,” says Schreiber.