PacB Group // A Layman’s Guide to Generator Installation


A Layman’s Guide to Generator Installation

Prior to the onset of South Africa’s energy crisis in 2007, with the exception of the nation’s industries, many of its farms, and some of the more isolated settlements, few people had any real need to produce their own electricity. It was then that the increasing demand for electrical power, combined with a shortage of technical skills and a dip in the supply of fuel to coal-fired power stations led to the frequent outages that have driven many more consumers to think about a generator installation.

For the domestic consumer, the option of purchasing a small, but effective, petrol-driven unit offers an inexpensive means with which to provide some lighting and to power an electric kettle or to charge a mobile phone. This, in fact, can be achieved quite simply and safely with the aid of an extension cable or two. For those who may prefer to power their entire home during an outage, the requirements are a little more stringent, however.

For such purposes, a generator installation will entail merging its output with that of the mains supply. By law, this is a task that may only be undertaken by a qualified electrician. Also, to comfortably meet the demands of an entire household, a diesel-powered unit is likely to be more effective, as well as eliminating the risk of storing highly inflammable petroleum on the premises.

It is not only homes that are now dependent on emergency backup power. From small businesses to larger commercial concerns, such as shopping malls, hotels, and hospitals, the need for a generator installation has now become a given.

To satisfy the higher power demands associated with these significantly larger operations requires a machine that is capable of generating a correspondingly increased output of current. The requirement is, therefore, one that tends to preclude petrol-driven models. Instead, only the more scalable output of a diesel-driven or gas-fired unit is likely to prove sufficient. In practice, the preliminary act of determining the precise power needs of the given establishment is one of the most important aspects of the generator installation process. If it is to be totally reliable, the chosen genset must be able to produce sufficient power to cope with the peak demand while retaining a little in reserve to handle any unexpected contingencies that might possibly occur.

A reputable supplier will undertake to perform a preliminary needs assessment. This will entail determining the consumption of every device to be powered, both at start-up and when running normally. From the total figure, an engineer can then determine the best machine for the job. It is also at this stage that details, such as the location of the genset and any necessary provisions to manage noise and exhaust fumes can also be reviewed prior to the actual generator installation.

To power an industrial plant of the scale needed by an automotive or aircraft manufacturer, the output from a single machine will invariably be insufficient. Instead, the output of several units coupled together will be necessary. In this type of configuration, instead of increasing or decreasing the speed of a single machine, individual units are brought online or taken offline, as required, to adjust to the changing load. To automate this type of activity, it is necessary to include a programmable control panel as a component of the generator installation. Control panels may also be used to automate other tasks, such as the seamless switching from mains to emergency power when an outage occurs and reversing that process once it is restored.

It may be that a company has employees who are capable of the various tasks listed above. However, the process can be time-consuming, and its results will carry no guarantee. For a complete, professional generator installation that includes a needs assessment, planning, genset selection, commissioning, and guaranteed performance as specified, most discerning users rely on PacB Group.

Our qualified technicians offer support and advice in the selection of the right power solution for your needs by calculating your power requirements.

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