Generator | Power Requirements

A Guide to Choosing the Best Generator to Meet Your Business Needs

Given the threat of load-shedding and brownouts, an alternative power source like a generator is vital for businesses, as is picking the best one for the job. Whether you own a small office or a retail store, or operate a large manufacturing plant, downtime due to repeated power interruptions is costly and eats into your profits.

These scheduled outages have cost the country between 204 and 899 million rand per day, almost halving expected GDP and forcing many businesses of all sizes into bankruptcy. These alarming statistics underline the urgent need for those still operational to adopt an effective solution for generating their own power.

The existence of that solution can be attributed to two inventors, Michael Faraday and Joseph Henry, who discovered and documented a phenomenon known as electromagnetic induction, the basis for the operation of the electric motor, the dynamo and, most importantly, a machine to generate alternating current. The latter device has since become an essential power source for both household and business use, especially in power-starved South Africa.

Generator Types

Before making your choice, it is necessary to understand the different types of electricity-generating devices and their relative merits. There are four types as follows:

  • Portable: This could be the best option for a business that requires a temporary solution, perhaps to supplement a solar system during the darker winter months or when working on a construction site or running an outdoor event. They are easily transportable and available in petrol or diesel-driven versions.
  • Inverter: This type is most notable for its clean power output and operating efficiency, making an inverter the ideal choice for any business that employs sensitive electronics. An inverter is also quieter and more fuel-efficient than the conventional portable type.
  • Standby: This type is intended for permanent installation. It can be configured to start up automatically and generate electricity when it detects a power drop or an outage. This ability makes it an invaluable option for any business in which downtime is unacceptable. Choosing a natural gas or propane-fired model will ensure a more eco-friendly power solution.
  • Industrial: These are intended for large-scale operations and are often used in manufacturing plants, sometimes in arrays of several units to support heavy load demands or provide redundancy. An industrial model is typically diesel-powered, but natural gas versions are also available.

Some Generator Features to Consider

Generating devices differ in terms of their features. These are often intended to enhance their functionality or simplify their use. The following are some of the key features you might want to think about before you finalise the purchase decision:

  • Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS): An ATS will ensure the power supply is automatically switched from the mains to the alternative source to provide a seamless transition and continuity by eliminating the need for manual startup and transfer procedures.
  • Electric Start: Some portable and standby models have this feature, which avoids the need for repeated tugging on a cord to start them running.
  • Noise Levels: A diesel- or petrol-driven generator is inherently noisy and, depending on your location, could raise complaints from your neighbours in addition to distracting your employees. To avoid exposure to exhaust fumes, they are often installed outdoors and protected by a sound- and weather-proof canopy. Inverters and some standby models are significantly quieter. Some are even classed as silent.
  • Price: Ultimately, your choice is linked to your budget. Portable models are the cheapest options, followed by standby and industrial types. Other considerations include fuel costs, maintenance, and repairs. In the long term, natural gas is the most affordable fuel, but petrol is relatively cheap for short-term use.

Where to Source Your Generator

CCI Technologies is a registered electrical contractor specialising in turnkey power solutions for data centres, businesses, and industrial use. Contact us today to ensure your business is safe from load-shedding and brownouts.

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