A generator can provide essential power where there is no access to grid power or when the grid fails. A loss of electricity from the national grid can occur with truly little warning, especially in Africa. With load shedding currently in effect in South Africa, even knowing when a power outage will occur does not bode well for anyone, whether you are at home or running a business.
However, before buying a generator, there are several things that must be considered. The foremost of what you need to know is to define the need that the generator will serve. This is crucial as there are several types of generators serving a variety of applications and purposes.
Your first decision needs to be whether you are looking for prime power or standby power.
Prime Generator Power
Prime generator power is where there is no access to the grid whatsoever and the generator becomes your primary or only source of getting your required electrical output. There are specifically designed generators and engines which cater for prime power applications. Large prime power requirements are often best solved by syncing two or more generators together to run them at separate times of the day, thus reducing servicing costs and extending the life of the entire solution.
Standby Generator Power
Standby generator power serves as a backup to an existing source of power such as the national grid. The generator will fulfil its purpose only when your primary power source becomes unavailable. A standby solution is generally more affordable than a prime power solution as the demands on that generator is considerably less, this includes servicing and maintenance costs.
Secondly you will need to determine if you require a single phase or three phase generator.
Single-Phase Generators
Africa Power Equipment offers a variety of single-phase generators that typically cater for households and small commercial businesses. Single phase applications generally require anything from 1kVA up to 30kVA and are powered by petrol, gas and diesel. A single phase installation is fairly straight forward as all the amperage is going through one phase and fluctuations can easily be maintained by the generator, assuming the correct size generator has been installed.
Three-Phase Generators
These generators are ideal for commercial and industrial solutions because of high and constant power demands. Although you do get three phase requirements as low as 7kVA a large majority of bigger generators, up to 4MVA, are three phase. Industrial and commercial equipment generally uses 3 phase power. Three-phase generators are some of the most popular across a variety of sectors and industries including, but not limited to:
• Commercial
• Industrial
• Agricultural
• Mining
• Construction
• Data Centres
• Factories, and more.

Fuel Type
An important factor to establish is what kind of fuel would best suite your application. Generators are powered by a variety of fuels such as diesel, petrol, solar energy, and natural gas. There are also dual or hybrid generators that can use a combination of two different fuels. Most people prefer generators that run on either diesel or petrol as they are more readily available and cost-efficient. However, LPG gas can often be an attractive option where gas lines have been installed for direct delivery to site.
Regardless of what the use for the generator will be, before you consider shopping for a generator, you must first determine how much power you need. The safest way in which this can be done is to hire an electrician to determine your electrical needs, especially if you are purchasing a generator that will power several household items, or if you intend to use it for business use where equipment and machinery must be powered.
You can use the various owner’s manuals to see what the power requirement is for each appliance, piece of equipment, or machine. Keep in mind that most electrical equipment tends to demand more power on start up, so the generator must provide sufficient wattage to accommodate this.
Generator type
The amount of power which is required to satisfy your personal or professional and business needs will determine the capacity of the generator that you must purchase. Some of the most popular generators that are available today include, but is not limited to:
Inverter generators
• Single- and three-phase generators
• Petrol and diesel generators
Silent generators
• Open-type generators
• Gas generators
• Underslung/reefer generators
• PTO (Tractor Driven) generators

When choosing a generator, it is imperative to establish the maintenance costs for running that unit. Regular services need to be undertaken when a generator is used often, and service intervals will depend on the running hours that generator has done. Obviously, the less the generator is used the less frequent the services will be. Keep in mind that you do not want your generator standing for months on end without running at all. A generator that does not get any runtime for an extended period will need to be serviced before putting that unit to work. It will be likely that the battery has run flat as well and will not start up. A general service consists of a complete oil replacement as well as fuel, air and oil filters.

Special features
The features on the generator that you purchase must be influenced by its intended use. Contact Africa Power Equipment (Pty) Ltd to discuss your particular requirements as they have a large variety of generators for any application.

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