When the power goes out, the criminals walk in
While I was umming and aaahing and generally procrastinating about my Genergy backup system, there has been an alarming trend in the South African crime stats. Yep, it has started to happen, and I just hope that by writing about it doesn’t make it more of a ‘thing’ or doesn’t attract it to me. The simple fact is that whenever there is loadshedding, crime levels rise, dramatically.
Pretty scary, as well as pretty shitty, but the story goes that criminals are getting loadshedding updates, along with everyone else, and heading out for planned crime sprees when there is no power. These are usually at night, when the lights are out and people are walking around like zombies with headlamps clamped to their foreheads and holding candles in front of them as they stumble around.
Of course no power means no alarms, no electric fencing and no automated gates, to name a few shortcomings. No telephones and in some cases no cellphone signal. Apart from breaking in to houses, there has also been a noted increase in large armed robberies on businesses during loadshedding times. In a nutshell, no one is safe.
There are a few simple solutions out there that one can apply immediately and with little fuss, like burglar bars and guard dogs and other preventative methods, but with the brazen approach to crime these days, if there is no alarm, then no one is too worried, dogs are a minor threat, and no security company is going to hear you scream.
Not such a lekker topic to be writing about, but the story flow is about to take a lighter direction. I promise.
It comes to the much talked about positives of having a back-up system and other solar – powered products like solar motion sensors. The first, the back-up system, is what I am putting in to place in my house. With a wife and two young kids under my care, my alarm and my beams need to be plugged into the security company system at all times, and the company I choose (Calibre) have shown time and again to be on the button and prompt whenever the alarm has been triggered. Electrical downtime, whether loadshedding or a power outage, is scary time, as the alarm has a limited battery life, and has run out of juice in the past.
I don’t want to run out of power again. The very idea of a midnight loadshedding darkness episode, no alarm, and my two children sleeping while a possible break-in happens is too horrific to contemplate. It’s not going to happen. The break-in might, but the alarm will work. As they say in Australia, This Is Serious Mum.
One of the biggest challenges to the average household when it comes to installing a back-up system is the cost. They’re not as expensive as everyone think, but if you want the real products, with longevity and the proper guarantees, and not some cheap Chines knock-offs, then you do have to pay. My 4kW system, with the 3.6 kwh battery bank, the two photovoltaic panels with micro inverters is going to cost me in the region of R70k. I negotiated with Genergy to have it payable over 6 months.
A simple justification that I put into place is thus:
My wife and I both work from home. Our average hourly rate for our various little enterprises, when we have work, is R450 each.
We are missing up to 4 hours of work a week each.
That’s 8 hours combined at R450, which comes to R3,600 a week.
That comes to the ridiculous number of R14,400/month of possible lost earnings. This means that it would have paid for itself and then some in 5 months.
The loadshedding situation, as explained by Eskom, is going to carry on for the next three years at the very least.
Looking at the long-term picture, it is R14,400 X 36 = R518k of possible lost earnings coming up, without including any percentage rise for inflation. Let’s call it a cool half bar, going to waste, in a time of indigence for much of our population.
The mind literally boggles. It spins. It threatens to spin out of its axis and head on a collision course somewhere out on the perimeter. You get the feeling.
The things you could do with half a million. That education fund for the kids; that extra room you always wanted to build; a little bit extra stashed for retirement, or a bunch of those overseas surf trips for the less frugally minded.
But wait, there is more.
Take away the possible monies lost scenario, because that’s all virtual money anyway, money that might be earned or might be lost, that might come or go. With money removed from the equation, I have to ask the question – what about my family?
How do you put a value to the safety of my wife and kids?
It kind of puts that seemingly expensive R70k cost into perspective, doesn’t it?