Back-up Power Sources for Online TEFL Teachers in South Africa


Load shedding: Ask any South African their opinion on these rolling blackouts, and you’re guaranteed to hear a discourse of frustration. This unfortunate issue has also sent a negative message to our global neighbours in the online English teaching hiring department.


Yet, this trying circumstance has equipped online TEFL teachers residing in South Africa with a unique survival skill set as they’ve made a plan for a backup power supply. As a collective TEFL force in South Africa, we CAN maintain our reputation for excellent TEFL service by following these tried and tested tips on how not to let the interruption in electricity supply interrupt your online teaching and income.


Plan Ahead


Use the load shedding timetables to your advantage by checking your area’s status and charge your devices ahead of time in preparation. If possible, find alternative spaces to teach from in other areas close by whose load shedding times differ from yours. That way, you’ll never miss a lesson and always be connected.


Invest in Alternative Power Sources


To eliminate the hassle of moving around, investing in your own power source is critical to online TESOL teaching survival in South Africa. Consider the following options:

  • UPS - An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) provides backup power and protection for your electronics during power disruption. The advantages of a UPS: it activates immediately and silently and takes up little space. Note that this is just a temporary solution for shorter periods. Still, with long load shedding hours looming, this may fail your electricity supply needs due to shorter battery durability and heavy power consumption.

  • Generator: Of all the backup devices, a generator may be the most old-school. However, it’s a reliable power supply and can run for hours. The downside is that it’s heavy, large, requires manual startup, added cost of fuel, and it’s a massive noise and environmental polluter.

  • Inverter: This handy device converts direct current (DC) power into alternating current (AC) to feed your devices. When the electricity returns, the inverter continues storing AC power converted to DC power in its battery, ready for the next use. While it’s safer for your electrical gadgets and purrs quietly, a disadvantage is that it requires several hours to recharge. The best battery to use for your inverter is a deep cycle battery as it requires little maintenance and outputs power for longer periods.

When deciding which source is best for your needs, evaluate:

  1. Your budget

  2. The type of equipment you need to be powered up

  3. Duration of backup

  4. The load required in watts

  5. Installation type

  6. Frequency of power outages

There is, of course, the additional option of harnessing the sun’s power in solar panels, but that’s an entirely different issue and expense only long-term online English teachers residing in South Africa or a country with similar power cuts should look into.


Internet Supply


It’s wise to have more than one SIM card from a few internet service providers on hand in case there is poor signal output, or a tower fails. Prior to signing contracts, research the best signal coverage in your specific area. Enquire from your network providers which towers they use and how they are affected during load shedding. Experienced online TEFL teachers also recommend using your mobile hotspot or another cellphone as a modem to connect your laptop to wi-fi.


Other options: LTE routers and dongles.


If you’ve done all you can in preparing for load shedding as an online English teacher with your functional backup power supply and internet, then your job will be secured. For those unlucky instances when your service providers’ towers are down, then chalk it up to a bad day and inform your TA in advance, preferably with an excuse other than ‘load shedding’.


For more expert training to be an effective and successful online or abroad TESOL teacher, contact iTTi South Africa today, or join one of our courses for your internationally accredited TESOL certificate.

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