The power goes out here A LOT. At least a few times per week. We’ve gotten used to having at least our phones, and often our computers, charged fully at all times, because you never know when the lights will go off. There have been times where it was off for most of the day, and we’ve been told that in the past it has been off for multiple days. Just a few days ago the power was off and on all day – coming on for 30 seconds at a time, teasing us. We’ve always got a good supply of candles around the house for these situations. Our stove is gas, so we can cook even when the power is out. Also, we can still have water when the power is out, while some other houses do not.


Some of the many candles we have scattered around the house

Our power is supplied by PNG Power. The method of paying for power is unlike anything we’ve ever done before. There is no monthly bill, it is all pay-to-use based. There are a few ways you can top-up your power. Vouchers can be purchased directly from PNG Power, but they are inconveniently closed during lunch and by 4 pm. You can also buy vouchers from a machine at the small Papindo (supermarket), but it is frequently down. The easiest method, for me, is to top up using cell phone credit. All we need to do is dial *775*Meter number*amount in Kina# (K50 max) using our mobile phone, and a confirmation screen pops up. After confirmation, a text message arrives with a voucher number, which you then punch into the meter (inconveniently located underneath our house). And, voila, you’ve got power.

Under House

That small silver box under the house is the power control

Power Texts

This is how we fill up our power when it runs out

Power Meter

The power unit. As on the left, as long as there’s a happy face, we know that power is at least available, and that we just need to top-up.

When we first got here we didn’t know when it would run out, so we ran out a few times without our knowing. We’d light the candles, and then we’d notice the people down the road had power. So we’d have to climb under the house and check the meter. Now, we’ve got a pretty good feel on our power use, we end up topping up about once a week. Cost has been about K30 per week (~ $44 CAD per month) – not bad at all!


We have 2 sources of water to our house. The first source is town water, is really high pressure, and the pipe runs under our bedroom. This is very inconvenient, as it likes to bang at all hours. It bangs so loudly that it can shake the house, and is impossible to sleep through. Recently, they changed our pipes around so now it doesn’t bang unless the power goes out, so that is a HUGE relief, as we were just turning the water off unless we needed it. The second source is rain water collected in a large cistern behind our house. This water is very low pressure, so they’ve installed a water pump. The water-pump is in a cage as apparently it’s been stolen twice before, previous to our arrival.

Water Sources

Water cistern and water-pump at the back of our house

It’s essential to have both sources on as if we leave the town water off, we will deplete the rain water cistern too quickly. But, if we leave the cistern off, we won’t have water if there is a problem with the town water – and the town water is turned off every night. Also, the town water is treated, while the cistern water is not. The water in the cistern runs off our roof and into the eaves – along with dirt and whatever the rats leave on our roof. So, we’d prefer to have it mixing with the treated town water. In any case, to be safe, we only consume boiled or filtered water. The filter we have isn’t your run-of-the-mill Brita. It starts off with a ceramic filter, and then has a series of different rocks and loams that the water goes through. We shouldn’t ever need to replace the filter system or replace anything.

Water Filter

The fancy water-filter that turns the water from murky brown (left) to pristine and drinkable (right)

A solar power panel on our roof heats our water. Most of the time, it keeps enough water heated for us to shower, wash dishes, etc. But if it’s been a cloudy day, or we both want to shower in quick succession, there wouldn’t be enough. To that purpose, there is a boost button in our kitchen, which uses our electricity to heat the water – takes about ½ hour.

Solar Panel

Solar panel and water heater on our roof

Hot Water Boost

Hot water boost button


I hope you are enjoying our posts about our life in PNG. If there’s anything in particular you’d like to know about, send me a message or comment and I’ll work on a post 🙂

11 thoughts on “Utilities

  1. Look forward to your posts Amanda. Can you tell us anything about the work you are doing or people you have met?

    • I will definitely dedicate a few posts to that. Probably won’t be for a few months though, since the first 3-6 months of a science job are usually just spent planning and and reading so I don’t have too much to talk about yet 🙂

      • I’m glad! Hahaha my iPhone is constantly autocorrecting the most ridiculous things. Sometimes even real words. Just the other day I was trying to type ‘back’ and it constantly substituted ‘have’!

  2. What a rigamarole! I know from our year in Samira’s house in Tripoli how exasperating intermittent power outages can be. On the bright side, at least it’s all doable now that you’ve figured out the foibles of your systems.

    • Yes, we can deal with the power outages, but they are definitely frustrating! Especially when you’re in the middle of something.

  3. You know me, I love to learn about food in other countries. I would love to see what concoctions you guys are coming up with in your own kitchen using local ingredients!

    • It’s really not nearly as exciting as you think! But I will be putting up a post about the market. Most of the fruit/veggies we get here are the same as in Canada – just fresher and WAY cheaper!! I do tend to post weird supermarket finds on FaceBook now and then. But, if we do make anything interesting I’ll post it for sure 😉

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