How much it costs to run a generator for load-shedding


Running a generator through Stage 4 load-shedding will cost a medium to high-energy usage household between R485 and R780 per month in fuel.

Petrol prices rose to R19.47 at the beginning of November, and South Africa experienced Stage 4 load-shedding intermittently over two weeks.

If you run a generator during shed hours, you can expect to pay anywhere from R280 to R800 per month on fuel at current pricing, depending on your household’s average power consumption and at Stage 4 load-shedding.

If load-shedding were upgraded to Stage 8, customers could expect to pay between R550 and R1,600 per month in fuel for their generators.

At Stage 4, Eskom says electricity users can expect to have power cut 12 times over four days for two hours or 12 times over eight days for four hours at a time.

This works out to being without power for an average of 4.5 hours per day or 42 hours per week, excluding the extra 30 minutes at the end of each session that Eskom allows to switch networks.

Load-shedding stages
Stage Hours shed per week Hours shed per day
1 10.5 1.5
2 21 3
3 31.5 4.5
4 42 6
5 52.5 7.5
6 63 9
7 73.5 10.5
8 84 12

If South Africa’s load-shedding situation were upped to Stage 6, customers would be shed for an average of 9 hours a day or 63 hours a week.

To calculate how much fuel a generator will use during the various stages of load-shedding, we used average estimates of energy consumption per month for different household sizes.

For lower energy usage households, we used an average of 480kWh per month, 840kWh per month for a household consuming more power, and 1,350kWh for the higher end of the scale.

This works out to 0.66 kWh, 1.15kWh, and 1.85 kWh per hour, respectively.

On average, it takes 0.12 litres of petrol to generate 1kWh of power, meaning smaller households use 0.08 litres per hour of generator use, higher-energy homes use 0.14 litres per hour, and houses on the high-end of energy consumption use 0.22 litres per hour.

To calculate the cost of using a generator through load-shedding, we used the fuel price of R19.47.

Estimated fuel consumption and costs for each stage of load-shedding for houses with various energy usage levels are tabulated below.

Fuel usage and costs
Level of energy consumption Stage Litres of fuel per day Price per day (R) Price per month (R) 
Low (480 kWh/month) 1 0.12 2.30 69.12
2 0.24 4.61 138.25
3 0.36 6.91 207.32
4 0.47 9.22 276.50
5 0.59 11.52 345.62
6 0.71 13.82 414.75
7 0.83 16.13 483.87
8 0.95 18.43 552.99
Mid (840 kWh/month) 1 0.21 4.03 120.97
2 0.41 8.06 241.93
3 0.62 12.10 362.90
4 0.83 16.13 483.87
5 1.04 20.16 604.85
6 1.24 24.19 725.80
7 1.45 28.23 846.77
8 1.66 32.26 967.74
High (1,350 kWh/month) 1 0.33 6.48 194.41
2 0.67 12.96 388.82
3 1.00 19.44 583.24
4 1.33 25.92 777.65
5 1.66 32.40 972.06
6 2.00 38.88 1166.47
7 2.33 45.36 1360.88
8 2.66 51.84 1555.30

Eskom implemented Stage 2 load-shedding at the start of November and quickly upgraded to Stage 4.

The country then dropped to Stage 2 load-shedding until the afternoon of Monday, 8 November.

According to Eskom, after several municipalities’ failure to implement a sufficient amount of load-shedding over the weekend, the country was upped to Stage 4 at 13:00 on Monday.

Eskom suspended load-shedding on Friday but has issued a warning today that it might have to implement load-shedding at very short notice.

This is because five generation units at various power stations have failed throughout the day.

A generating unit each at Kusile and Majuba was taken offline to repair boiler tube leaks, while a generating unit each at Kriel, Majuba and Matimba tripped.

In addition, the return to service of a generating unit each at Kendal and Tutuka was delayed.


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