The Congo has very inconsistent power. As a result, most people who have or use power also have a back-up generator. Every store in Lubumbashi has a back-up generator to turn on when the power goes off. In addition to the power coming and going, the power itself goes up and down, leading everyone to buy a voltage regulator to try to keep a steady flow of the correct power flowing to expensive electrical equipment–and to prevent power surges from totally destroying equipment!
We have both a power regulator and a power converter in most office and apartments. The regulator (to the left) prevents overloads and brings in consistent power. The converter (to the right) is used to convert 220 volt to the back-up batteries and vise versa.
The two large back-up batteries gives us some power in-between power outages (so if you are working on a computer it does not die in the middle of your work, etc.).
I had heard from our couple in Likasi that they had power surges that were so strong it now only blew out light bulbs, but make them blow-up! I was skeptical, as I had never seen something like that happen…until last night.
Terri and I were in the living room watching a video on her Mac. I had commented on how the lights in the living room were slowly going out (there are 8 lights in the ceiling fixture). We had replaced all of them just a month or so ago, and every week or so we would notice another light had burnt out. Now there were only 3-4 left working.
All of a sudden the lights went bright, then completely dark, with one bulb actually bursting, throwing glass all over the room! Wow!
Now we have no lights in the living room, had to carefully find out shoes to get the broom and dustpan to sweep up all the glass. Tomorrow we will replace all the bulbs–again–and hope for the best.