The Role of Diesel Generators in Hybrid Energy Systems

The Role of Diesel Generators in Hybrid Energy Systems

If you’ve followed energy news in South Africa over the past decade, you’ll know that loadshedding isn’t going away soon. This reality has highlighted the urgent need for reliable and sustainable energy solutions. Enter hybrid energy systems!

These innovative setups combine multiple power sources like solar, wind, batteries and, yes, diesel generators. You might be wondering why traditional fossil fuel generators still play a role when renewable energy is the future. The simple answer? Reliability and load balancing. Let’s explore the role of diesel generations in hybrid energy systems.

The Sun Doesn’t Always Shine, and the Wind Doesn’t Always Blow

While solar panels and wind turbines have become much more efficient and cost-effective, their core limitation remains – they only produce power when sunlight and wind are available. South Africa is blessed with ample sunshine, but even our blue skies can get covered by clouds. And those who have experienced one of our famously windy cold fronts know that the breeze doesn’t blow consistently.

This intermittency makes solar and wind power insufficient to serve consistent electricity demand. Homes and businesses need reliable power 24/7. That’s where energy storage batteries come in. They can stockpile electricity when it’s plentiful and dish it up when production dips. However, batteries have their own limitations in how much power they can practically store and discharge.

Diesel Power Steps in to Fill the Gaps

Here’s where the diesel generator – the classic backup power workhorse – comes into play. Today’s diesel generators are much more efficient and environmentally friendly than the sooty, noisy beasts of decades past. Their key advantage is energy density, as diesel fuel contains far more potential energy than battery storage of the same space and weight.

In a hybrid renewable system, diesel generators provide a crucial safety net. If battery storage runs low due to prolonged periods of clouds or calm winds, diesel generators can temporarily take over supplying electricity. This ensures homes and businesses never experience disruptive blackouts. The generators only run when absolutely needed to recharge batteries and balance unstable renewable output.

The Intelligent Energy Manager

So, how does this all work together? Hybrid energy systems employ smart computer controls and algorithms to optimise the blend of power sources. This intelligent energy management software constantly monitors renewable production and forecasts future conditions. It automatically activates battery charging, discharging, and diesel generator start-up as needed to maintain reliable and cost-effective output.

For example, on a sunny, windy day, renewable sources satisfy all the energy demand while charging the batteries. If clouds roll in and solar production drops, the system might first discharge some batteries to make up the gap. If the batteries get too low, the diesel generator will automatically start, recharging the batteries faster than renewables. Once the batteries are sufficiently charged and the clouds clear, the generators are turned off to save fuel.

Less Cost, Emissions and Noise

While some see diesel generators as a grudging addition to an otherwise green energy setup, they actually enable emissions reductions versus running diesel generators constantly. In many hybrid installations, the diesel engines run less than 10% of the time compared to over 90% for a traditional generator-only system. This slashes fuel costs, emissions, noise and maintenance needs.

As renewable energy grows but load shedding persists, diesel generators remain a crucial part of reliable hybrid energy systems in South Africa. They provide the backup muscle to prevent blackouts when solar, wind, and batteries alone can’t meet the demand. If you need a rugged, well-maintained generator to complement your home or business’s hybrid setup, turn to the specialists at S&A Generators. With over 25 years of experience, we know how to keep generators ready to seamlessly take over when the lights go out.

Contact S&A Generators today about generator sales, installation, and maintenance services to reinforce your hybrid system’s resilience.

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First-Time Buyers’ Guide For Generators

First-Time Buyers’ Guide For Generators

With the ongoing challenges of load shedding in South Africa, many business owners are considering purchasing a backup generator to keep operations running during power outages. If you’re a first-time buyer, the process can seem daunting, considering all the technical specifications and factors. This guide will walk you through the key points to keep in mind when selecting a diesel generator for your business.

Size Matters

One of the most critical decisions is choosing the right size generator. Based on your electrical setup, you’ll need to determine if you require single- or three-phase power. Make a list of all essential equipment, appliances, and motors you need to run simultaneously during an outage. This step will help calculate the total power load required in kilowatts (kW).

Don’t undersize, as frequently running your generator at or near its maximum rated capacity can lead to premature burnout and failure to start larger motors. However, an oversized unit will be inefficient and waste fuel.

When sizing the generator, allow some extra capacity beyond your projected load. This provides room for future expansion or connecting additional loads if needed. Also, carefully factor in the start-up requirements for motors, as electric motors can briefly spike to 3 to 7 times their running load during start-up.

Location Considerations

Generator placement is crucial for safety and performance. The altitude of your area impacts a generator’s output ability. For every 300 meters above sea level, you’ll need to de-rate (decrease) the maximum rated output by about 3% to 5%. Generators produce carbon monoxide and other toxic emissions, so proper ventilation is critical. Generators are designed for outdoor use, and manufacturers build them with this in mind. Outdoor placement with the exhaust directed away from buildings and air intakes is ideal. Remember to never run a generator in an enclosed space like a garage.

Temperature also plays a role. Most standard generators are rated for up to 35°C ambient temperatures. If your location consistently exceeds this, you may need to opt for an industrial or heat-rated model designed for hotter climates. You’d also need to consider noise. The loudness of a generator will largely depend on the type of generator and how old or new that generator is. Well-designed weatherproof enclosures with sound-attenuating materials allow proper cooling airflow while reducing noise levels.

Operational Efficiency

To maximise your generator’s service life and efficiency, aim to run it at a 70 to 80% average load when possible. Consistently running at very low loads under 30% can lead to glazing and poor combustion over time. Overloading beyond the rated output risks shutdown or failure. Also, it’s vital that you understand proper load management. Where feasible, avoid running your entire facility simultaneously during outages. Stagger start-up loads and prioritise critical equipment first. The more electrical loads operating, the higher the fuel consumption and costs.

Lifecycle Considerations

When selecting a generator model, ensure repair parts and consumables like oil filters are readily available locally. This allows for timely routine maintenance and completion of any necessary repairs. If you have a business in KwaZulu-Natal, S&A Generators will have you covered for comprehensive support, guidance, and backup services. You can be confident that our readily available technical expertise will save you downtime and headaches.

A diesel generator is a significant capital and operating investment to keep your business resilient against load shedding. But by carefully evaluating your power needs, site conditions, duty cycle, and lifecycle requirements, you can select the right generator for efficient and reliable performance for years to come.

At S&A Generators, we offer a range of generator solutions to suit the needs of all business owners. Our services include generator sales, installations, and maintenance, ensuring reliable backup power during load shedding. We pride ourselves on providing high-quality products and services and are committed to ensuring your satisfaction. Contact us today to find light in these dark times.

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How To Soundproof A Diesel Generator

How To Soundproof A Diesel Generator

Are you looking to make your generator less noisy, or soundproof it completely? Where would your diesel generator score in the “Noisy Generator Olympics?” We’re guessing it would take a podium spot, and the reality is that generators are by no means quiet things when in operation. With ongoing load-shedding, backup power generators are in private homes, residential estates, office parks, and other places where emergency electrical supply is critical. The question that many people ask is: can generators be made less noisy? This article explains why generators are noisy, and four ways you can try to soundproof your diesel generator:

Why are generators so noisy?

  • Fuel type
    How loud your generator is going to be during operation will depend largely on the type of fuel it uses. Solar power generators are practically silent, so these are commonly used indoors. Fossil fuel generators, like diesel gensets, are known to be the loudest. Diesel generators take the cake, followed by petroleum generators and then gas generators.
  • Engine size
    The engine capacity of the generator set will also play a role in the noise levels. Understandably, the larger the engine – the louder the sound. This is true in cars as well, so you can expect industrial-size generators to be much louder than your garden-variety portable generator.

4 ways to soundproof a diesel generator

  1. Bucket of water
    Starting with the most rudimentary noise-cancelling solutions, here you’ll need a bucket of water and a suitable section of piping. Use this to divert your generator’s exhaust fumes into the full bucket of water (via the section of hose). The bucket of water acts as a muffler, but shouldn’t be left unattended, so use this one as a last resort.
  2. Rubber matting
    If you’re looking for a quick noise-reduction solution that will dampen some sound while you find a permanent solution, try a thick rubber mat. When placed under your generator, this will reduce the prevalence of vibrations that add even more noise to the already-noisy engine.
  3. Soundproof cover
    Speaking about rubber, a slightly more involved noise solution that could work for you is a rubber soundproof cover. Think of it as a rubber box without all of the panels that sits over the whole generator set. It still allows all exhaust fumes to be funnelled out, but contains most of the noise within the thick rubber covering.
  4. LF125 acoustic panels
    These professional sound-absorbing sections of foam can dampen over 70% of noise at 125 Hz. Used on the inside of your generator covering, LF125 panels will make a generator a lot quieter – and are specifically designed to never catch alight. This solution is only recommended for permanent generator quietening solutions, as it will come in on the more expensive end of the spectrum.

Diesel generator repairs and maintenance in KwaZulu-Natal

Whether you have a generator that goes CLANK too often for your liking, or you’re looking to install a new generator but you have noise concerns, we’re able to assist. S&A Generators has been specialising in generator installations, relocations, repairs and planned maintenance for over 50 years. Contact us  and we’ll find the perfect soundproofing solution for your unique challenges.

Empowering Your Home: The Synergy of Solar Panels and Generators

Empowering Your Home: The Synergy of Solar Panels and Generators

Eskom has unfortunately proven its unreliability over the past twenty-plus years. Their current situation holds a heap of challenges. With backlogged maintenance system failures and power stations that are years behind schedule, Eskom simply cannot produce the load of electricity that South Africa needs. As their debt and disputes continue to rise, electricity from the grid won’t be guaranteed anytime soon.

However, South Africans are resourceful and buoyant. Many homeowners and business owners have reworked their budgets and invested in alternative power-generating options. Two of the most popular alternatives are solar panels and generators. But which one is the best? The good news is that you don’t have to choose. Let’s explore why and how a dual-energy solution could be your best choice.


Harnessing Solar Energy


South Africa might have a few challenges, but a lack of sunlight isn’t one of them! Solar panels harness the abundant sunlight, converting it into clean and sustainable electricity. Integrating solar panels into your home’s energy infrastructure can be a real game-changer. By tapping into this renewable resource, you can significantly reduce your dependence on the grid and, in some cases, even feed excess energy back into it.


How Do Solar Panels Work?


Solar panels are equipped with photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into electricity through a process called the photovoltaic effect. These cells absorb photons (particles of sunlight), generating an electric current that can be used to power electrical devices.  While some solar panels directly produce electricity during sunlight exposure, others incorporate batteries to store excess energy generated during sunny periods.


But What If The Weather Changes?


However, the sun doesn’t shine 24/7, and South Africa’s intermittent power supply necessitates a reliable backup plan. This is where generators come into play. While solar panels work their magic during the day, generators stand ready to take over when the sun sets or during prolonged cloudy periods – especially when the batteries connected to the solar system can’t store a surplus.


The Power of Generators


If the weather has been acting up or the rainy season is upon us, generators are a reliable backup to kick in when you need it most. These versatile machines are fuelled by gasoline, diesel, propane, or natural gas and provide an immediate and continuous power supply during load shedding or grid failures. Load shedding can be highly unpredictable, and having a generator ensures that your essential appliances and devices remain operational.


The Hybrid Advantage


The synergy between solar panels and generators offers a comprehensive and resilient energy solution. During sunny days, solar panels take the lead, reducing your reliance on the grid and minimising electricity costs. When the sun sets or the clouds set in, the generator seamlessly takes over, maintaining a consistent power supply.


Energy Independence and Cost Savings


By combining solar panels and generators, homeowners in South Africa can achieve a level of energy independence that insulates them from the impact of load shedding. It’s a dual approach that ensures continuous power for essential functions and significant savings in the long run. As electricity costs continue to rise, the initial investment in solar panels and generators is proving to be a wise and strategic decision.


In a country where power interruptions are a part of daily life, taking charge of your home’s energy supply is empowering. The dynamic duo of solar panels and generators addresses the challenges posed by load shedding while charting a course toward a sustainable and resilient energy future for South African homes and businesses. Embrace the sun’s power, supplemented by the reliability of generators, and experience a new era of energy freedom. That’s where S&A Generators come in.


At S&A Generators, we offer a range of generator solutions to suit the needs of homeowners and property owners. Our services include generator sales, installations, and maintenance, ensuring reliable backup power during load shedding. We pride ourselves on providing high-quality products and services and are committed to ensuring your satisfaction. Contact us today to find light in these dark times.


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Can You Run A Generator Continuously?

Can a diesel generator run on biodiesel?

Can a diesel generator run on biodiesel?

Here’s a crazy fact: the first diesel engine was designed to run on peanut oil. Nuts, right? Since then, it has become more economical to fuel diesel engines with fossil-fuel diesel, available at your nearest petrol station for a cost just under that of petroleum (most of the time). However, with the green movement gaining momentum as we move further into this new decade, diesel generator operators are feeling the pressure to convert to more eco-friendly fuel sources. One of these is biodiesel. So, can a diesel generator run on biodiesel? Is biodiesel healthier for the environment? Let’s take a look:

What exactly is biodiesel?

One thing to know about biodiesel is that it’s pretty hard to find, and when you can find it – it’s more expensive than regular diesel. Having said that, biodiesel is becoming a popular low-carbon alternative to fossil fuels, and it’s only a matter of time before biodiesel will be as common as petrol and paraffin.

The process of creating biodiesel involves a process called “transesterification”, and can be applied to pure vegetable oil, animal fat, tallow, and even used cooking oil. The latter will require a few more filtrations before becoming useable. Commercial biodiesel production plants use commercial crops like soybean, palm oil, and rapeseed.

Is it better for the environment?

Biodiesel is considered better for the environment, due to the belief that it is a “carbon neutral” fuel source. In other words, the carbon dioxide produced by burning the fuel is neutralised by the carbon dioxide that was absorbed by the rapeseed, soybeans, etc. Whether or not biodiesel is truly carbon neutral, there is no question that growing and re-growing crops for fuel production is much better than destroying valuable fossil fuels that cannot be replaced.

Can biodiesel be used in a diesel generator?

Pure biodiesel can be used in almost any diesel engine or generator. However, when it comes to fuels like animal fat and straight vegetable oil, the generator will require a special conversion. Since vegetable oil is thicker than diesel, a secondary fuel system is installed to start the generator on diesel fuel – then switch over to vegetable oil once it has reached a suitable temperature. So, if you have access to pure biodiesel, you should be able to run your diesel generator on it! And if you want to put your old cooking oil to good use, chat to a generator specialist about a fuel system conversion.

Diesel generator installation & repairs in KwaZulu-Natal

Before grabbing for that crusty bottle of old chip oil at the back of your pantry, give S&A Generators a call to see if your generator is able to run on biodiesel. We’ll be able to advise you on how best to convert your generator into an alternative fuel consumer, or on an eco-friendly replacement generator. If you’re in KwaZulu-Natal and your issue involves a generator – think S&A Generators! Contact us here to arrange a generator conversion assessment.

How Important Are Generators For The Industrial Sector?

How Important Are Generators For The Industrial Sector?

South Africa’s industrial sector is the backbone of the nation’s economy, driving growth and providing employment opportunities. However, it faces numerous challenges, including frequent power outages due to load shedding, unpredictable weather conditions, as well as unrest and strikes. In this demanding environment, generators play a vital role in ensuring uninterrupted power supply and safeguarding productivity. Let’s delve into why generators are of paramount importance to the industrial sector in South Africa.

The Impact of Load Shedding

Load shedding has become a familiar term for South Africans, causing significant disruptions in both personal and professional lives. The scheduled power cuts, needed to balance the national grid’s demand and supply, have severe consequences for industrial operations. The impact of load shedding on the manufacturing sector has been significant. According to Statistics South Africa (StatsSA), the industry experienced a 4.3% decline in output during load shedding periods in 2021. Although there has been a rebound in production at the beginning of the second quarter of 2023, the industry continues to be hampered by the effects of electricity supply disruptions. In addition to the challenges posed by load shedding, South Africa’s diverse weather conditions further compound the need for reliable power solutions in the industrial sector.

Weather-Related Challenges

South Africa’s diverse weather conditions, including thunderstorms, heavy rains, and strong winds, pose additional challenges to the power infrastructure. These weather events often lead to unexpected power failures, leaving businesses in a vulnerable position. A study conducted by the South African Risk and Vulnerability Atlas reveals that extreme weather events have caused an average annual loss of 0.3% to the country’s GDP from 2000 to 2019. By investing in generators, industries can mitigate the impact of power outages due to these challenges, ensuring continuity and minimising financial losses.

Unrest and Strikes

Unrest and strikes are unfortunate realities that South Africans are familiar with. These events can significantly impact industrial operations, leading to temporary shutdowns and disruptions in power supply. Beyond the immediate disturbances, businesses may also face property damage, looting, and logistical difficulties. In such challenging circumstances, having backup generators becomes crucial as they provide a reliable source of power to keep essential operations running to minimise the impact of unrest or strikes on productivity.

Uninterrupted Operations and Increased Productivity

Generators provide a reliable solution to combat power outages and keep businesses running smoothly. When the power grid fails, or load shedding occurs, generators seamlessly kick in, ensuring uninterrupted operations. This reliability translates into increased productivity and minimised downtime, allowing industries to fulfil orders, meet deadlines, and maintain customer satisfaction.

Protection for Equipment and Assets

Voltage fluctuations pose a significant threat to sensitive machinery and equipment. Without a stable power supply, businesses may face equipment damage with costly repairs or replacements. Generators offer a consistent and clean power source, protecting valuable assets and extending their lifespan. In the long run, this translates into substantial cost savings for businesses.

Emergency Preparedness

It’s always a good idea to be prepared for eventualities, but South Africans might just need to bring some extra vigilance to the table. Companies and factories can only benefit from having a robust emergency preparedness plan ready. Although the manufacturing sector in the country is vulnerable, there is always a light in the tunnel. Generators serve as a critical component of emergency plans, providing a steady and reliable backup power source. By having generators on-site, businesses can navigate through unforeseen power disruptions and industrial challenges, ensuring continuity and minimising the impact on operations.

S&A Generators is a trusted provider of reliable generator solutions for homeowners and property owners in South Africa. With a comprehensive range of generators tailored to meet various needs, we ensure that customers can find the perfect fit for their requirements. Visit our website to learn more about our expertise, our commitment to quality, service, and customer satisfaction. Our team of skilled technicians ensures that generators are installed correctly and operating optimally. Regular maintenance and prompt repairs are essential to keep generators running smoothly, and S&A Generators’ professionals are well-equipped to handle any servicing needs. If you’re looking for a service provider that offers installation, maintenance, and repairs, contact S&A Generators today!

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