The resumption of load shedding across South Africa has resulted in a dramatic increase in demand for reliable, reasonably-priced back up generators for businesses in particular. Our sales division, Tool Time, has filled this specific niche with the Honda FA6500 generator. This is a 5.5 kVA generator with electric key start, AVR, a large fuel tank, and a wheeled frame. The Honda FA6500 is a medium-duty machine designed especially for back up power for a small office or home and represents a perfect balance between price, features, and quality.
As business and industry start to feel the effects of load shedding and customers expectations to have a back up plan, we are supplying a diverse range of industries, from chicken farms to aluminium fabricators, fast food chains, industrial laundries, and chroming plants. Generators for the construction industry are rugged and basic. These ‘no-frill’ units are usually recoil-pull start, with no automatic voltage regulator (AVR) capability. Ranging in size from 2 kVA to 10 kVA, these are ideal for operating large power tools on building sites for extended periods.
Open-set petrol back-up generators, on the other hand, are the most cost-effective option for residential and business back-up applications. Ranging in size from 2 kVA to 13 kVA, these types of back up generators do feature AVR in order to be able to run sensitive electronic equipment like television screens and computers. Available in pull-start and electric key start versions, these generators have large fuel tanks for longer run times, and wheeled frames with handles for convenient transportation and handling. A large muffled exhaust assists in reducing the high noise level.
Petrol-driven inverter generators are small and quiet units, ranging from 2 kVA to 5.5 kVA. These use a petrol engine to create DC power, and thereafter inverting it to AC current, which allows for maximum efficiency. The main application is to run sophisticated electrical equipment where noise and space are a factor, such as in the film industry, marine inspection, and ambulances, to name a few. “We have sold these units to complexes and estates where noise is an issue, with great success,” Fraser reports.
Silent water-cooled automatic diesel gensets offer a complete power generation solution, and are large, permanent units that hence are more expensive. These can be housed in a weatherproof, sound-reducing canopy because the engines use radiators for cooling. They can be fitted with automatic changeover switches (ATS), which changes over to generator power and switches the unit on automatically. Hire It also stocks a range of silent diesel gensets ranging from 10 kVA to 500 kVA.
Important factors to consider is what size generator is required in terms of kVA, petrol or diesel, automatic, electric key or recoil start, and budget, as silent generators are substantially more expensive. If electronic equipment is to be run off the generator, then AVR is mandatory. It is also important for customers to ascertain if the supplier offers back-up and has an adequate spares inventory. This is vital, as generators often only have a one-year guarantee period.
As a dealer for Honda, Yamaha, Hoffmann, and more, we offer back-up on all of the generators that we sell. We are able to handle warranties, servicing, and have access to spares. Generators have a ‘carry-in’ warranty, which means the customer needs to bring the machine to us to evaluate, or we charge a call-out fee.Generators should be run at least twice a month to ensure they remain in good running order and serviced every 100 hours of run time, or at least once a year. The main issue in terms of maintenance is fuel degradation, as petrol and diesel becomes stale over time.
In a sealed tank, petrol will last around six months, and diesel for up to a year. If the petrol or diesel goes stale, it will have a sweet smell, and actually goes quite sticky. If this gummy fuel enters the carburetor, the generator will not run. Electric-start or automatic generators also pose the problem of flat batteries. Here the alternator charges the battery when the machine runs. Smart charges are also available that can top up batteries over time.
Be wary of small petrol generators that feature ATS. Unless this is a reputable brand, steer clear of them. Small petrol engines require an automatic choke to start up automatically. Apart from the premium brands, a lot of Chinese imports have very unreliable systems.