PacB Group // As Eskom’s Woes Continue, Opt for Diesel Generators for Sale


As Eskom’s Woes Continue, Opt for Diesel Generators for Sale

The electricity crisis in South Africa is maturing from purely generation capacity issues to the addition of electricity price fatigue. Ever escalating tariffs are putting pressure on homeowners and commercial and industrial power users to become more efficient users of electricity. The capacity of Eskom to finance its generation, transmission, and distribution activities is also coming into question as the utility struggles with massive debt, poor management, corruption, and failing infrastructure. The continued attacks on electrical infrastructure by thieves and vandals add to the erosion of Eskom and the municipalities’ ability to deliver power consistently.

Many South Africans from the “baby boomer” generation would never have experienced a power outage in their homes at all. Compare their experience with the current electricity landscape of intermittent load shedding and extended technical outages and it becomes clear that Eskom’s ability to provide power reliably is badly compromised. The eastern suburbs of Tshwane have had two outages of over seven days in duration since 2018. Catastrophic transformer failures in the Wapadrand substation left hundreds of homes, including the Equestria retirement village, without electricity for more than a week. The recent outage has been largely attributed to poor repair work after the first failure in 2018.

Do I Need to Invest in Backup Power? 

Where an advert reading, “Diesel generators for sale”, would have largely been ignored by the average homeowner in the past, finding alternatives to grid power is now front of mind. What makes it difficult and confusing for the average homeowner is the plethora of diesel and petrol options on offer. Adding to the confusion is the fact that a bewildering number of options for renewable power generation systems also confront the residential buyer.

Commercial and industrial users face similar problems and, therefore, face the same choices. Reliable power is the backbone of any modern industrialised society and economic growth and prosperity are impossible without it. There is a strong argument that the declining industrial base in Zimbabwe is coupled to ZESA’s (Zimbabwe’s Eskom) inability to provide stable power. As much as suppliers of generators and renewable power generation systems may experience a short-term bonanza due to an increase in demand, the medium- to long-term effects of an unstable Eskom will be bad for everyone.

“Diesel Generators for Sale” – How to Choose?

The downside of the increase in demand for backup electrical power is the fact that everyone with an entrepreneurial inclination sees an opportunity to make money. A multitude of businesses have sprung into existence in the diesel generator and solar backup sectors hoping to cash in on Eskom’s woes. Many of these are small one-man enterprises, which often have very little expertise, or the resource, to sell and support what are sometimes relatively complex solutions.

Anyone can create an online shopfront and advertise “diesel generators for sale,” without being in any position, whatsoever, to give informed advice and after-sale support. The old maxim “caveat emptor” (buyer beware) should be strenuously followed. Even a small high-quality generator or solar backup solution represents a substantial financial investment.

Industrial buyers, on the other hand, need to be aware that a number of larger companies have turned their hand to selling diesel generators. These companies often have a core business other than power generation, for example logistics, and do not have a long-standing track record in the supply and support of diesel generators. They are essentially “box movers” as opposed to true solution providers.

Prudent industrial buyers would be well advised to look carefully at the company behind the “diesel generators for sale,” advertisement and ask pointed questions. How long has the company been selling diesel generators? Is the sale of generators and allied products the only product set they are involved in? How many successfully installed sites do they support? Are there reference sites that can be visited or contacted? Sites where renewable energy is paired with diesel generators are especially technically demanding. A vendor with experience integrating generators and renewables is vital.

Homeowner’s Dilemma, Diesel or Petrol? 

Commercial and industrial users will almost invariably choose to purchase and install diesel generators. This follows from the fact that commercial and industrial customers usually require generators of higher capacity and frequently want features, such as automatic mains failure start-up and switch over. Remote access to the generators is sometimes also required. Larger, feature-rich generators with sophisticated programmable logic controllers will almost always be powered by diesel, as opposed to petrol, engines.

At the lower end of the market, petrol engine powered generators proliferate. Small diesel-powered generators are on offer but in most cases will be more expensive than the petrol-powered equivalent. As is so often the case, there is a reason why petrol engine powered generators are cheaper. It is important for the homeowner to understand why this is and what compromises come with the lower purchase price.

Perhaps the most crucial consideration is running cost. Diesel generators are far more fuel efficient than petrol for equal power output. Petrol generators can consume up to 50% more fuel than the diesel equivalent. The greater the demand for power placed on the generator, the more significant the difference in running cost will be. Diesel generators have other characteristics that make them a better solution than petrol in some applications.

Diesel options are generally easier to start reliably and produce more stable frequency and voltage output. Petrol generators are notoriously difficult to start consistently, making the use of automated starting challenging. The frequency and duration of use are the key considerations when choosing which fuel type to go with. Very infrequent, short duration demand may justify buying a less expensive petrol-powered generator. Diesel engines need to be run from time to time to keep them functioning optimally where petrol engines are more forgiving of long periods of inactivity.

kW Versus kVa for the Uninitiated

Kilowatt (kW) is a unit of measure of “real” power and holds true where there is no “reactive” power component in the electrical articulation. In articulations that contain a reactive power component, this element is added to the kilowatt rating to give an apparent power value. In very simple terms, the end user can compare these values by dividing the kilowatt rating by 0,8 to give an approximate kVa equivalent or conversely multiply the kVa by 0,8 to give the kilowatt value.

So, 1 kW is 1,2 kVa and 1,2 kVa is 1 kW. Which naming convention is employed varies from industry to industry, country to country, and even manufacturer to manufacturer, which is fine as long as generators are compared using the same convention. Many generator manufacturers make this easy by supplying both values on their data plates.

Speak to the Experts

Diesel generators for sale by us at PacB Group are designed and built to the highest standard using internationally acclaimed components. Support is provided by an in-house team of globally qualified experts. We operate proudly in terms of international ISO 9001 standards and our staff is NOSA trained.

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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