Electricity outage is a regular event in Myanmar. The electricity produced in Myanmar is not enough for domestic use. As a result, even in Yangon which is the largest city in Myanmar, electricity outages are quite common. The outage frequently occurs during the rainy season when hydroelectric turbines can run at full. However, when the dry season approaches, these hydroelectric power plants cannot produce enough electricity, and outages become a daily event. In fact, during summer months and early rainy season, electricity supply has to be rationed. In large cities like Yangon and Mandalay, electricity is supplied in a half day quota (12 hours off, 12 hours on). This can sometimes get worse to the point where power on time is down to 8 hours a day in some months. In smaller towns, the electricity supply can even less than 6 hours a day in some dry months.
If you are a foreign expatriate intending to live in Myanmar, you should be well prepared to deal with constant electricity outage. The following advice will be valuable to you if you are one of the foreigners intending to come and live in Myanmar. This advice is mainly the city of Yangon but it can also be applied to other cities and towns to a certain extent.
1. Back to the ancient times – use candle
Well, this is the easiest way to fight back electricity outage although not the most convenient way. Candles are easy to buy and even if you have other means of supplying your own private electricity, it is wise to keep a pack of candles at your house in case.
2. Use DC-AC Inverter
This is the most convenient and the most cost effective way of supplying your own electricity. You can buy different brands of inverters with different power and function at any electric store in Yangon. They range from small 500 watt inverters up to a few kilowatts units. The more powerful inverters will need a larger capacity battery. If you intend to watch TV and light a few light bulbs at your house, choose the inverter unit with at least one kilowatt (the larger, the better). However, you cannot run air condition using the inverter but you can run one or two fans using the powerful inverter. Choose the inverter with automatic charging and voltage control function as it can also be used as a voltage regulator when the electricity is on.
3. Your own power station – Electric generator
This is not the cheapest option. However, when the electricity outage is too frequent, there is not enough time to recharge the inverters so your own electric generator can become quite handy during these times. You can buy different sizes of generators, up to the large capacity ones that can produce enough electric power to run your fridge and a few air conditioned units. Choose the generator depending on your budget and your intended usage.
4. Rent a serviced apartment
Alternatively, you can rent a serviced apartment where electricity is guaranteed (either by special VIP power supply or by own generator). There are only a few serviced apartments available in Yangon and you need to be really quick to get one room as the remaining vacant rooms are quickly filling up.
5. Rent a house in one of the VIP areas
If you are fortunate enough to be able to rent a house in one of the VIP areas, you are guaranteed to have regular uninterrupted supply of electricity 24/7. Ask your agent to find a house in one of these VIP locations. However, prepare to pay high price for a house in these areas. Please remember that even in these areas, there might be occasional outage so always keep a pack of candles and a few pieces of torch light or emergency lights.