“We are aware of an outage in your area. Technicians have been dispatched. No ETR is available at present. We apologize for any inconvenience caused.”
Then, interminable waiting.
If you live in Johannesburg then there is a high chance you have encountered these messages from City Power and the resulting scenario at least a couple of times of late. Making it more frustrating is that many if not most people are still working remotely, as part of dealing with the pandemic, and all indications are that many of us will be doing so for the near future. So what do you do when your electricity supply is nonexistent and your otherwise fast and stable connection is down with it?
You can burn through your data, and your smartphone’s battery life with it, or if you are one of the well heeled few who don’t mind spewing more fumes into the atmosphere, turn on your generator.
Another solution may well be this, the RCT Megapower 54K (named for its 54 000 mAh power capacity) from Rectron.
It enables you to plug your fibre line and your modem into its two dedicated 12 amp/230V outlets and continue enjoying your WiFi connectivity. The device incidentally also sports two Type-A USB ports and one Type C USB to charge your smartphone and/or tablet.
One scenario where the device comes into its own is during dreaded load shedding, where similarly, power is cut, usually for a minimum of four hours at a time.
In terms of the powerbank itself, function is far more important than form. It looks like a neat, fairly portable black box, akin to a large external hard drive. Its one feature is an LCD display that shows how much of a charge you still have left.
And if you don’t use it for several days on end, you will still find that it has held a previous charge admirably, so long as you charge it up ahead of time.
It further works as advertised - plug in your fibre box and router and you have a good 8 hours worth of use, or about four hours if you opt instead to power your notebook. That is usually more than enough to keep you running through a Stage Two or Stage 4 load shedding schedule.
Alas it is not going to power your oven or fridge so you will still need to make another plan to cook food, but in terms of enabling you to use your core electronics and connectivity, it is certainly up to the task.
Your device/s do need to have a two pronged plug on them there to fit - the largest, three pronged plugs are not supported here by default, which requires you to find an adapter to use them.
Admittedly, power banks are not the sexiest devices out there nor is there as much to say about them as some other gadgets, but in the case of this one, it is certainly one of the most critically useful for when an outage occurs/load shedding returns or your notebook battery fails while far from an outlet.
And to be frank, it is really only a matter of time before any of those three happens again, which is where the Megapower shines.
Perhaps its best feature in this regard is its price at around R4800 (shop around, we have seen it as low at R4000) making it one of the more affordable options out there.
You can if you wish, get a larger capacity version that boasts 80 000 mAh (not tested) which lasts longer for not much more, at around R5600.
Consider this an essential addition to your toolbox of living in South Africa, living in a century wracked by climate change, or living in a time where working from home has become the new normal.