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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