Updated: Jan 17, 2019
Sitting in the serenity of my house alone and engaging in some productive thoughts, the light suddenly goes off. I reach for my rechargeable lamp with a deep, frustrated sigh. The experience is so regular, I know the lamp's location and pick it up in complete darkness. Its dimness betrayed just how little it had charged since the last outage.
Then it happens. Noise. Vibrations. Wisps of smoke and the smell of hydrocarbons fill the air. Here we go again.
Yes, “NEPA just took the light”, like we like to say. The expression itself is almost amusing; like an invisible hand reached through the electric wires and retrieved the 'light'. The power supply for some reasons had failed (again) and everyone cranked their generators to self-supply their homes.
The noise pollution is just one of the adverse effects of the country’s epileptic power supply. Stories abound of entire families wiped out overnight by poisonous fumes from the little, noisy smoke machines fondly dubbed “I better pass my neighbour” and their bigger, louder cousins.
Wetin man go do? We have come to accept generators as a necessary evil due to the prevailing conditions. But must we carry on like this? What can be done?
An inverter system has proven to be a good substitute to generators. The regular inverters are quite affordable too. If you can afford inverters, then you could say an eternal goodbye to generators. But an inverter system might not completely substitute a generator in many communities where the average availability of power supply is less than 20 hours per week. In this case, it could still be charged with your generator. This arrangement will give you some peace and quiet (especially in the evening when you need to unwind from the day's stress) and a deserved break from noxious fumes.
Your neighbors will also love you a bit more.
If you are blessed with space, you may keep your generator as far away from your rooms as possible. This will lessen the noise and keep the exhaust gases away. Be careful not to situate it too close to your neighbours though; I nor fit separate fight.
When space is scarce (or you worry the boys of the night may come for it), keep the exhaust away from your windows. There are very harmful chemical compounds in the fumes. Ensure proper ventilation of your rooms at all times.
When the generator has aged, due to the number of years of meritorious service or the incessant active engagement, the noise increases to migraine-inducing levels and the fumes become even more toxic! The verdict? Your generator has lost its house worthiness (like road worthiness for cars).
You may need to replace parts of the engine or the exhaust. If you have tried everything and it is still wailing and puffing, do the right thing- let the poor machine retire and buy a new one.
Oga, switch off that gen. Na 12 o’clock be this. You can survive the night without power supply. Use your rechargeable lamps, fans etc. and let your neighbours rest (you could share this article with them so they'd do same for you). We'd all sleep better without the irritating chorus of generators.
A friend who came home from Europe recently narrated his ordeal how his one year old child couldn’t sleep from all the generator noise and I jokingly replied that our children wouldn’t be able to sleep without that noise. LOL. A Cameroonian girl once joked that Nigerians shout when they talk because they are so used to talking louder than their generators so as to be heard. If I catch that girl!
We (Nigerians) survive many things nobody else could. Our resilience is legendary. However, we could use some silent nights, clean air and good rest too.
Let’s live smart.
Yoloye Oyerinde is a power solution consultant. He seeks to see clean energy delivered to homes and businesses in Nigeria and all other nations of Africa.
*Photo credit: Yoloye Oyerinde