South Africa’s power crisis continues without respite, and while plans are being put in place to improve power generation in the medium to long term, the country’s power utility will need to implement rolling blackouts, called load shedding, to protect the grid from collapse for the foreseeable future.
The power outages caused by load shedding continue to have a detrimental impact on the entire South African economy. However, broadcasters encounter a unique set of challenges that necessitate addressing their specific requirements.
All commercial broadcasters are at risk of losing revenue when prolonged power outages jeopardise their ability to broadcast. Those in the broadcast industry understand that “dead time” is the worst-case scenario and must be avoided at all costs. Consequently, most have become reliant on backup Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) and diesel generators during extended power outages. However, the concept of “at all costs” is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain.
The cost of operating diesel-based generators has become prohibitively expensive due to escalating fuel prices. Moreover, broadcasters have had to invest in various battery-based UPS solutions to prevent system shutdowns in the middle of a show. Alternative power sources, such as solar, offer a potential solution, but the rising costs and lengthy waiting times for solar installations present their own challenges.
In addition to the daunting task of keeping broadcasts running amid relentless power cuts, there is the added risk of power surges and unstable (brown) power that can permanently damage highly sensitive and costly broadcast equipment. South Africa’s largest independent commercial radio station, Jacaranda FM, experienced this firsthand when an unstable power supply rendered three of their outside broadcast vans inoperable earlier this year.
“Over the past few months, we have had three power inverters blown by spiking and surging due to the restoration of power by Eskom after load shedding. In most cases, our pure sine wave inverters became unstable due to power supplied by clients’ onsite diesel generators,” explains Joshua Mnyakeni, an outside broadcast technician for Jacaranda FM.
Consequently, critical units in the broadcast vans were permanently damaged, compromising Jacaranda’s popular and commercially crucial outside broadcast service. Recognizing the need to protect the station against future losses, Andrew Pike, the station’s technical and IT manager, decided to invest in power protection. “After extensive research, we concluded that Furman would provide the solution we were seeking,” highlighted Pike.
After assessing the systems used in Jacaranda’s outside broadcast vans, Prosound supplied Pike and his team with Furman’s PL-PRO DM C E 16A Power Conditioner with lights, volt/ammeter, and 220V-240V export. This power conditioner is equipped with Furman’s proprietary series multi-stage protection (SMP), linear filtering technology (LiFT), and extreme voltage shutdown (EVS) technologies. Together, these components form one of the world’s most advanced and comprehensive transient voltage surge suppressors.
“I appreciate the Furman Power Conditioning units because they provide a clear indication of the voltage being drawn from the source. The diagnostic lights act as warnings, alerting the user when the voltage exceeds the normal range or when the protection is compromised. When there are significant deviations from the source, you will notice a change in the colour of the unit to yellow. If the voltage being drawn is around 220 to 240, the colour remains green. However, if there is a sudden surge or instability in the power allocation, the unit will turn red and eventually shut off to protect our sensitive equipment,” Mnyakeni explains.
Francois Lotter, a broadcast specialist at Prosound, has specified Furman units for nearly every pro-audio and broadcast installation he has consulted on in recent years. “It’s easy to sell great loudspeakers or fantastic mics because you can directly experience the power and performance of a great system. However, Furman is one of those unique pieces of equipment that you will only miss if you don’t have it. It doesn’t matter how advanced or well-designed your broadcast studio is; in that critical moment when a power surge destroys all of your equipment, Furman becomes indispensable.”
Lotter further emphasizes that some clients perceive Furman Power Conditioning units as a luxury addition to their system design. Nevertheless, when your power protection fulfils its intended purpose, it can save your entire operation. This becomes especially crucial now when the only certainty regarding power supply in South Africa is uncertainty.
“In our brief experience using Furman conditioners, we can confirm that they truly deliver what they’re designed to do. They consistently provide a high level of protection and purification,” Mnyakeni concludes.
Contact us for a full evaluation of your power conditioning needs.