Loadshedding FAQs

What is loadshedding?

Loadshedding is another term for rolling blackouts and power cuts. Load-shedding happens when there’s a huge demand on the national power grid, leading to the interruption of the electricity supply to the country. Loadshedding discontinues the power supply to certain areas, according to a schedule, to allow the power utility to get failed generation units back online. Load-shedding is implemented in stages and depends on the extent of the shortage of electricity generation.

Note: The City of Cape Town only implements load-shedding when instructed by Eskom’s National Control Centre. The decision to implement loadshedding is therefore beyond the City’s control and often at short notice

How does loadshedding work?

Step 1: Eskom decides on the load-shedding stage, depending on the number of megawatts needed to balance the power grid.

Step 2: Eskom and municipalities then implement load-shedding on a rotational basis, based on the schedule developed.

Step 3: Loadshedding is done for 2 – 4 hours (sometimes longer) depending on the schedule for your area.

Note: The higher the loadshedding stage, the more frequently you will experience electricity outages.

How will loadshedding affect my holiday or working remotely from Cape Town?

Loadshedding affects everyone to varying degrees. There are places which experience little to no load-shedding, due to their proximity to important government structures such as hospitals and parliament etc.

You can call ahead and ask whether the area you’re visiting experiences loadshedding. If they do, enquire about backup generators or alternative power supply.

What if I’m staying in self-catering accommodation, are there any questions I should ask before booking?

Yes, ask whether there are solar power/alternative energy solutions installed to prevent power outages. You can also enquire whether the premises has backup generators, gas stoves, and surge protection plugs.

Can loadshedding damage my electronics and, if so, what should I do to prevent this?

Electronically controlled appliances such as computers, televisions etc can be damaged after the power comes back on. This is because the power may come back on with a momentary surge. It is safer to switch off and disconnect any electrical appliances you’ve been using before load-shedding takes place. The use of surge protection plugs can help prevent damage to your electronics.

Why is my power still off even though, according to the load-shedding schedule, it should have come back on?

When power is restored, nuisance tripping can occur. This happens when the power fails to come back on, and it often goes unreported because residents assume the outage is due to loadshedding.

If you experience an outage at an unscheduled time, or the electricity supply remains off for longer than the period specified in the schedule, please report the issue by visiting the City of Cape Town website.

What is the industry doing to ease the impact of loadshedding?

Most tourist attractions in Cape Town have generators allowing guests to continue sightseeing and enjoying our beautiful city.

Guesthouses, boutique hotels, and B&Bs provide candles, torches, and special hand-held battery lights. They also have gas cookers to heat up light meals and boil water for tea and coffee. Larger hotels have invested in different backup power supplies to minimise loadshedding disruptions.

Popular shopping centres and restaurants offer Wi-Fi connection during load-shedding. Some restaurants have gone a step further, adapting their menus to offer specific food and drink even when the power goes out.

Is there anything else I need to know?

The fact is, there is no way to completely avoid load-shedding. However, you can minimise the impact of it on your holiday by being prepared. Here are a few additional tips:

 Keep some cash on you as most ATMs cannot operate without electricity. Ensure your mobile phone, laptop, and tablet are always fully charged when power is available. This will allow you to be able to communicate with friends and family during load-shedding. If you do not have a gas stove, prepare meals before the power is scheduled to be switched off. Boil water in your kettle and keep it in thermos flasks for hot drinks. You can also use an insulating cover on teapots, pots, and pans to keep drinks and meals warm. Or go out and have a bite to eat, most eateries special load-shedding menus.

Most medication requiring refrigeration can be kept in a closed fridge for several hours without spoiling. However, you should check with your doctor or pharmacist if in doubt. Store temporary lighting such as battery-powered torches and hand-held lights, gas lamps and candles in places where they will be easy to find in the dark. Make sure your vehicle always has fuel in the tank as most petrol stations cannot pump fuel during power outages.

How can I prepare for loadshedding, and where can I find the loadshedding schedule?

Depending on who provides your electricity, stay up to date with the latest information by visiting:

You should check these sources regularly, so you are aware of the state of the power system and whether load-shedding is likely to happen, so you can plan accordingly.

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