In South Africa, winter is usually characterised by power supply issues, writes Philip Hampton, chief technology officer at Powermode.
As electricity consumption reaches extremely high levels, questions abound. Will power supply utility companies cope? Will the country face rolling blackouts again?

Today, uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems with a reliable battery backup are essential to any business or enterprise with a need to remain productive. The key is the selection of an appropriate UPS system capable of delivering around two to three hours of reliable off-line power. This is usually enough to ride out an outage.
Size is important. For example, a UPS system designed for a small office or home office will be hopelessly underspecified when faced with the demands of a medium sized company or large organisation. Often multiple UPSs will be required.
When selecting a UPS system, it’s important to note that power outages are not all caused by a failure of the utility company to meet peak consumption demands. They come in other forms, including power surges, spikes and ‘brownouts’ or unexplained drops in voltage. Together with blackouts, they can all be the cause of costly failures of electronic equipment or components and loss of productivity.
The first step in choosing a UPS system is to calculate the total volt-amps (VA) consumption of each piece of equipment being plugged into the UPS and then opting for a system that will meet this requirement, plus around 10% or 20% to allow for growth.
It’s important to purchase a UPS system with a separate battery pack, capable of being renewed without unplugging the entire system. This will stand you in good stead in the event of a power emergency, although you can expect the battery pack to last between three to five years.
After listing the appliances you need to protect, ensure that the UPS has enough outlets and ports to link to them all. Remember that damaging power spikes often caused by lightning strikes can reach your PC via an ADSL line, network lines and any link to an unprotected peripheral unit. The UPS should be able to protect your entire system.