Generator | Installation Steps

From Darkness to Power: How to Select the Right Generator for Your South African Business

Despite years of battling load-shedding, many South Africans still don’t have generators. In this article, we’ll look at why generators have become crucial in South Africa and also provide a step-by-step guide to simplify the buying process.

Why Generators Have Become Essential in South Africa

The introduction of scheduled rolling blackouts by Eskom in 2007 was an emergency measure to balance the electricity supply to cope with the nation’s more essential demands while avoiding a nationwide blackout. Today, 17 years later, and despite numerous promises of an impending solution, load-shedding remains a routine event.

The explanation is simple. The national service provider has an installed generation capacity of 52 000 MW. However, due to operational failures and frequent breakdowns in ageing and poorly maintained infrastructure, the country can produce only 47 000 MW. In the meantime, South Africa’s demand for electricity continues to grow, forcing consumers to seek their own solutions.

There’s an adage that states, “It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good”, and, in this case, the upside has been an increased migration to more sustainable energy sources like solar and wind power. However, installing a backup or standby generator is the answer if you want a simpler and more affordable means to ensure your business can continue functioning during these inevitable blackouts.

Sizing the Generator

Power requirements vary between businesses, so selecting a unit that can produce sufficient power to meet your needs is essential. At the same time, an overly powerful model will cost more to purchase and operate. Ideally, you should install a unit that will handle your peak consumption with a little in reserve. Sizing is a two-step procedure as follows:

  • Determine the Initial Load: Every electrical device, from light bulbs, computers, and security cameras to fridge-freezers, air conditioners, and photocopiers has specific power requirements at startup and when running. These values are shown on its specifications label and expressed in watts. The peak demand for your power will be at startup when you switch to generator power, so you need to sum the startup wattages for all items you intend to operate during power outages.
  • Calculating your Power Requirement: Don’t panic; it’s just simple arithmetic. Any cheap calculator can handle it. First, divide the summed startup wattage by 1 000 to arrive at kilowatts. Next, add 25% to allow for reserve and surge capacity. Finally, divide this figure by 0,8 to convert it to kilo-volt amps (kVA), and that’s the size you need.

Choosing Which Type of Generator to Install

When selecting the best type of power unit for your needs, there are two points to consider:

  • Fuel Type: The choice is between a petrol-, diesel-, or natural gas-fired unit. Let’s review their relative merits:
  • Petrol: These units are the most common choice as they are compact, portable, and cheap. However, petrol is expensive and the exhaust fumes could pose a health hazard if installed indoors.
  • Diesel: A costlier purchase but cheaper to run and quieter than petrol models.Their high compression ratio means they are harder to start, so they are not the best choice if frequent stops and starts are necessary.
  • Natural Gas: These are the most expensive but also the most durable, quiet, and eco-friendly option.
  • Functionality: The choice depends on how urgently an uninterrupted power source is needed:
  • Backup Units: These are intended as a temporary measure and must be started manually when required. Consequently, users will experience a brief period without power.
  • Standby Units: A brief period without power could be disastrous in a data centre. Standby installations detect supply anomalies, automatically start the unit before the outage, and re-engage mains power when restored.

Installing your Generator

Ensuring a safe and efficient installation requires skill and experience. So, why not contact the experts at CCI Technologies, a registered electrical contractor with the Electrical Contractors Association of South Africa, to provide the perfect turnkey power solution to keep your business running? 

Scroll to Top

Scan Me - To Call US