Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Common Generator-Related Questions Answered

What type of generator is best for your house? How often should an industrial generator be serviced? Is load shedding bad for the health of a generator? There are so many questions about generators and alternative power solutions out there currently, we thought we’d add a FAQ page to our S&A Generators website. Here you’ll find a bunch of common generator-related questions, and the answers to those questions from our generator specialists. Got a question we haven’t covered below? Contact us today and we’ll make sure we find the solution you’re looking for!

Can Christmas lights overload an electrical circuit?

Twinkling Christmas lights look lovely at this time of year, but they can easily overload your electrical circuit. Traditional circuits are made to power an ordinary family home or business, so they can crumble under the extra strain of strings of lights and animatronic festive figurines. Circuit breakers and fuses trip or blow when circuits are overloaded, which can affect your lights and appliances inside and outside the house. Rig up a generator and you can have a Christmas display worthy of the Griswold’s without the stress.

What should I do if I will not use my generator for a long time?

Every generator set must be tested under load for 10 minutes at least once a week. If you will not use your generator for a long time, you should perform the instructions given in your generator’s Maintenance and User’s Manual about storage. Storage is very important for the service life of generators and must be performed by an authorised service shop. After being in storage for a long time, a generator must be prepared for operation by undergoing an authorised service. This is especially important in terms of its warranty.

Standby vs. continuous vs. prime power ratings: What’s the difference?

Standby power generators are typically used in emergency situations when the power goes out. This type of generator is ideal for applications in which there is another reliable continuous power source. It is recommended to only use this type of generator throughout the duration of the power outage and during maintenance and testing.

Prime power ratings have an “unlimited” run time, which means they can be used as a main source of power and not just as a backup. This type of generator is often used on job sites where there is no traditional power source, such as in mining or oil operations, or in remote locations with no power grid.

Continuous power is comparable to prime power in a number of ways, but stands apart because it has a base load rating. While it can offer a consistent and regular power supply, it cannot handle overload conditions and doesn’t work well with variable loads.

What is the difference between an air-cooled engine and a liquid-cooled engine for a generator?

Air-cooled generators use fans to cool the generator engine, while liquid-cooled generators use splash lubrication systems for cooling the engine. Generally, liquid-cooled engines are used on larger wattage generators, as they provide better cooling power.

What makes buying a generator for my guesthouse in KwaZulu-Natal worth it?

Buying a generator for your guesthouse is definitely a good investment. With load shedding becoming more and more likely for longer periods, it can be very inconvenient to guests if their power goes out and they are wanting to cook dinner, etc. They may get irritated and this could drive away business. It would also be a good thing to include this on the website for your guesthouse or in the description and this will show that your guests won’t be inconvenienced by load shedding.

My estate won’t allow generators, what now?

Most estates don’t allow generators as they are noisy and disrupt those around you. The best choice is a gas generator. Gas generators are quiet and therefore will not disturb any neighbours around you. Many estates are also becoming more eco-friendly and gas generators are more eco-friendly compared to other generators. Gas generators are also more cost-effective than other alternatives.

What is a gas generator?

This is a generator that powers households by using gas. The gas is created through a process of combustion. Gas generators generally come in smaller KVA’s. They are better equipped to run a household – however, it depends on what you are wanting to run in the household. A site inspection will help you to determine this. A gas generator is also more cost-effective than other generators.

Can I service my own generator?

It is not a good idea to service your own generator, as you do not know exactly how your generator works. You could end up doing more damage to your generator, and it can become more expensive to fix. It is definitely best to get your generator serviced by someone who knows what they are doing. This will probably end up being less expensive in the long run as you know it is being done correctly. By choosing a professional to service your generator, you can guarantee that it will work properly the next time you need it.

Are diesel generators environmentally friendly?

Not necessarily. However, measures can be taken to make the generator more environmentally friendly, or you can buy a generator that is already modified. You could get a bio-diesel generator which will be more environmentally friendly. You can modify a diesel generator by adding filters to the exhaust which will potentially clean the air that is coming out. That is just one example of what you could do to make your diesel generator more environmentally friendly.

Should I buy a diesel generator or go solar?

This depends on your preference and what you would use the generator for. How much of your office or house will need to be supplied with electricity if the power was to go out? It may be a good idea to choose a solar generator; however, while they do have a better impact on the environment, solar generators are more expensive. It may be a good idea to get a site inspection done first, then proceed from there based on the advice that is given.

What are the main types of power outages?

There are three types of power outages. These are a blackout, a brown-out and a permanent fault. A blackout is the most severe power outage, and can last from a few hours to weeks. Blackouts are caused by a power station tripping, and is a total loss of power.

A brown-out is a drop in power voltage which can affect the operation of equipment and the productivity of a business.

A permanent fault is due to a surge of power through the power line. This is usually relatively quick to resolve. In South Africa we have load shedding, which is due to us not having enough of a power reserve, as well as there being a higher demand than there is a supply of electricity.

Portable generator or standby for my office?

Both will help to supply your office with power but there are some subtle differences. A standby generator is attached or installed permanently at your office. It also turns on automatically when the power goes out, and it doesn’t have to be filled with diesel or petrol as often (it has a larger reserve tank). A portable generator can be moved from location to location, however it does not turn on automatically and has to be turned on manually. It also has to be filled frequently (it doesn’t have a large reserve due to its portable nature). A portable generator can be more of a hassle when the power goes out, however it is more cost effective. You will have to decide what you think will suit the needs of your office.

What do I do to my generator if I sell my house?

The generator can be added into the price of the house. You may want to see if this is an option, so speak to a professional about this option. However, if you would like to keep the generator, then it might be possible to relocate the generator to your new home. This may be a more expensive route.

What home backup generator should I use?

This will depend on what you are wanting to run off the generator. For example, your lights, plug points, heaters, etc. It is probably best to get a site inspection done prior to buying a generator. This way you know for certain that the generator you are buying will be able to run your house or  the parts of it. It is also helpful to get a site inspection done to find out the best position for the generator to limit noise pollution, as well as finding the easiest way for the cables to be run from the generator to the DB board. A house generator’s size can range anywhere from 5KVA to 80KVA, depending on what you are running off of it.

How much does an industrial generator cost?

The cost of an industrial generator can vary depending on the brand of the generator as well as the KVA that will be needed. The higher the KVA, the higher the cost of the industrial generator. The brand of the generator will also affect the price point. Prices range from anywhere between R80000 and R200000 depending on the KVA and brand. There is the option of Chinese brands which are, on average, a lot cheaper – but sourcing spare parts is often a challenge.

What should I look for when buying a house generator?

If you’re looking for a generator for your house, you should take into consideration the following: noise polution. If you’re staying in a complex or close to other houses, you may have to get permission from your governing body or your neighbours. Space. You will need to see where you will be able to place the generator. The distance from the DB board to the generator will also have to be determined as this will affect the length of cables required. KVA rating: The KVA is determined by what needs to be run off of the generator. EG: If you are wanting to run just lights off it, for example, the KVA will be a lot less than if you want to run the entire house off it. The KVA of the generator and the space that will need to be allocated can be determined by a site inspection by one of our technicians.

Can a diesel generator run on biodiesel?

Biodiesel is diesel that is made up of vegetable oil or animal-fat fuel. Use of biodiesel is a more recent advancement, so newer generators as well as other selected dated generators may be able to run off of biodiesel – with a special conversion in place. Biodiesel can be more cost-effective, however it is not as accessible as regular diesel. We recommend getting your generator checked out by a generator specialist to assess whether biodiesel could be a fuel option before adding it to your generator’s fuel. If you’re looking for a more ‘green’ backup power solution, consider battery, solar or wind turbines.

What oil should I use in my diesel generator?

We use Kleinz Oil when we do our generator servicing, an oil which is considered one of the best generator oils available. There are many brands that are more cost-effective, but do not offer the same longevity. The amount of oil can differ from generator to generator, so it’s better to get an official opinion on what oil to use and how much. This will ensure you don’t end up damaging your generator with incorrect lubricants.

How do we go about arranging a generator service at my office?

First, you contact us via email, or you can call. We will then ask you more information about your generator and then give you an SLA agreement (this is a service plan for your generator.) and from this, we will arrange services for your generator for certain dates and times. This is stipulated further in the SLA agreement.

How often should I service my generator?

Routine services are done quarterly, and a major service should be done when a generator has 200-250hrs or a year (whichever occurs first). An inspection service can also be done monthly.

How long does it take to connect a generator to a house?

8 Hrs if it is under 30KVA but this can differ depending on how long the cable length must be (this means from the generator to the meter board).

Is it healthy to run a generator until the fuel runs out?

No, it can cause air to get into the system. Your generator should have low fuel protection and a low fuel alarm as well as a no fuel shut down.

Does S&A Generators service small generators?

We service from 10KVA upwards however if you have a generator smaller than a 10KVA we can refer you to our service provider to service your generator.

What size generator is needed to power a house?

For the average household, it is 25-30 KVA but this can vary depending on what you are wanting to power. For example, how many ovens, electrical stoves and aircons you want to power.

Why would my generator keep shutting off?

There are many reasons why a generator could be turned off. Some of the main reasons are that there could be an electrical fault, and old battery, it could be over speed or under speed and there could be low oil pressure or high-water temperature.

What can a 1200 watt generator run?

This depends on the wattage outputs.

What is kVA rating of a generator?

This stands for kilo-volt-ampere and determines what can be powered by the generator.

How do you determine what size generator you need?

The size of the generator is determined by the load requirement. The load requirement is the most important thing to look at when you are choosing a generator.

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