Category : Africa Living

Why I Can’t Live Without My Generator in Africa

I never thought that I could become so attached to a piece of electrical equipment, however since I’ve been living in Africa, I don’t think I could live without my generator! Before, I was used to just turning on a switch and power would be there, however now that’s a thing of the past. With a lack of a reliable connection to the mains, if I want to power my lights or appliances I need to have a generator that is powerful enough to keep everything running perfectly.

It took me a while to choose the right generator to suit our home’s needs. I had to make sure that I was choosing one that wouldn’t be undersized since it could damage my appliances and create a hazard. I had to think about the safety of the installation, the total amount of electrical load that would need to be connected, the frequency, phase and voltage, the automatic mains failure mechanism, the right location for the generator, the running time and altitude as well as the noise levels.

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man pushing a generator

Other things to keep in mind include whether to get a diesel-powered unit or whether to opt for a gas powered one and how to choose one that will offer the right level of performance. Not all generators are equal in terms of quality and performance, and you get what you pay for when it comes to generators. There are two kinds of generator to pick from – portable and standby models. A portable generator is smaller and can, as the name suggests, be taken from place to place, however, they can’t power as many appliances and pieces of equipment as a standby model, which means that they are best for emergency situations or for use while on the go, for example when camping. They are also pretty noisy and may not have been waterproofed, which leads to problems, since they can’t be run indoors either due to exhaust fumes.

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The downside to a standby generator is that it is extremely large and is fixed permanently in position, as well as being very expensive to have installed. However, the upside is that despite these points, they are so effective in supplying power that you would never notice that the grid had gone down.


Another of the main considerations was the capacity of the generator – while some equipment such as PCs doesn’t use a lot of power, they are voltage sensitive and that is an important thing to bear in mind since if there are spikes and dips, the equipment can be irreparably damaged.


In the end, I went for a Generac BP13S-G single phase gas generator which had all of the essential features I needed. This large standby generator may not be portable or lightweight, and may have cost quite a lot to have installed, however the best thing about it is that it keeps everything functioning perfectly all the time. I never see a drop in my quality of life with this impressive model. Producing a maximum of 14.3kVa, it has indicator lights that can be seen at a glance, a powerful engine that is up to the task of heavy duty use, a RhinoCoat finish to protect effectively from the weather, and fuel conversion to LPG without needing any tools. Even better, it’s protected by a 5-year warranty.

Generac BP13S-G

Thanks to my powerful generator, I can power all kinds of equipment and appliances in my home. Not only can I keep my essential kitchen gadgets running such as my refrigerator and microwave, but I can also power the lights, the sump pump and my heating system. To make sure that I can carry on working, it can also power my computer, and to keep us all entertained, it can keep the TV running too. It’s even powerful enough to run my washing machine or tumble dryer as well as the air conditioner, so we won’t overheat. It makes sure that I can use all of the essential electrical equipment in the house whenever the grid goes down. Perfect!

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So I won’t be able to take it camping! But I’m seriously considering investing in a second, small and portable model for that!

After A Medical Mission, Here’s What I Do

I don’t think I was prepared for how tired I would be after a long day on a medical mission here in Africa. Even when I was working at home, I never got this exhausted. I suppose the heat and the dust don’t help. I get back home at the end of the day and I just feel utterly shattered. Still, rather than heading straight to bed, I like to take a little time for myself to do some of the things that I really enjoy.


Before I do anything, however, I like to take a lovely warm shower. There’s nothing better to get off the grime of the day and all that dust so I can feel refreshed and ready to face the rest of the evening. When I first arrived, there was only cold water, which may have been refreshing but wasn’t very luxurious, but now I’ve had the tankless water heater installed I can enjoy hot water whenever I like which is just wonderful.

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I think I’m a little bit in love with my tankless water heater. It produces water at the perfect temperature exactly when I need it, so there’s no need to switch the heater on and wait for the tank to warm up. It’s just brilliant for those quick showers when I’m on my way out somewhere.

 Rheem RTE 13

I have an electric tankless water heater – a Rheem RTE 13 which is perfect for small homes like mine. Modern, user-friendly and reliable, it’s absolutely brilliant for one shower homes and thanks to its affordable price it was an obvious choice. Small and convenient, it was easy to install under the sink and its 4 GPM flow rate is pretty impressive. The digital thermostat has a handy dial that I can use to get a perfect temperature for me, and it’s also 99.8% efficient for a super-intelligent design. It’s especially good for warm climates, making it ideal for use in Africa!

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I wasn’t sure about this heater when it was installed. My friend has a Takagi T Kjr 2 NG which is gas powered rather than electric and which is perfect for larger homes. With a high flow rate and great reliability. I would definitely recommend that model too to anyone who is running more than one shower as its 6.6 GPM flow rate is enough to accommodate several people showering simultaneously. Since there are three people living in her house, it makes sense to have a more powerful unit, but it definitely gets the job done – it produces wonderful warm water right when you need it, and with its digital controls, it’s so easy to get just the perfect temperature.


After I’ve had my shower, I have a choice of several things that I can do to unwind. Most evenings, I just sit on the porch and read a good book. It’s lovely to just rest and smell the fragrant flowers and feel the cooler night breezes as I indulge in an epic tale of adventure and mystery. I’ve also started painting recently, and sometimes in the evening, I like to go out and find something beautiful to capture on canvas. I’m not sure I’m very good, but I love the relaxation of mixing the paints and just enjoying the beautiful colors on the canvas. Sometimes I go out with my camera and take photos of the wildlife, flowers and scenery around the house.

girl painting

But sometimes, I like to go out and meet my friends. Sometimes, we all go around to one person’s house to have a casual get together. I like to take a bottle of wine and some cake and we just chill out, have a good chat and a catch-up and enjoy ourselves. We don’t often go out into town, but we don’t really need to. None of us really have the energy after a long day on the mission, and so we just prefer a more laid back approach to entertaining ourselves. Although it’s very different to the life I had at home, I find it very rewarding, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s truly an amazing experience.

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