There have been significant strides made in the provision of alternative power through generators, with the modern generator tracing its history back to an amazingly simple apparatus which was created by the British scientist, physicist, and chemist, Michael Faraday in 1831.
Today, with great advancements and developments in technology, there are several types of generators available, each with its own unique applications across industries from residential and personal use to larger operations such as industrial plants, factories, and mines that need consistent, reliable generation of power.
Some of the most popular types of generators that are found today include the following:
- Inverter generators
- Single- and three-phase generators
- Petrol and diesel generators
- Silent generators
- Open-type generators
- Gas generators
- Underslung/reefer generators
Despite its use, the process involved with determining which generator you need is one which involves a variety of considerations. Foremost is determining the type as well as the size of generator as these factors will drive the final decision based on its application and your needs.
Residential versus Industrial
You must already have an idea of the class of generator that you will require. Homeowners looking for backup or standby power will need a small, portable generator or a stationary standby generator that run from 2kW up to 2000kW, or less, for recreational units, and up to 50kW for a standby generator that will be used to provide power to an entire household.
Such generators often use single-phase currents, adequate to power smaller equipment. Industrial generators, however, range from 20kW to well over 3MW as larger business and industrial applications require significantly more power, using three-phase motors for higher power.
Sizing the Generator
The basic generator sizing formula involves the following:
- Compile a list of all the items to be powered.
- Determine the starting wattage for every application, machine, or piece of equipment (these figures can be found on the equipment or on the owner’s manual)
- Calculate the total power requirement by adding up these kW or KVA figures.
Once you have the estimated wattage, it is easier to choose the right size of generator for the intended application or purpose. Despite the estimated wattage, always choose a generator with a capacity that is between 10 to 20% larger than the requirement.
Single versus Paralleling
If you have large power requirements, you must consider whether it is better to buy a single, large diesel generator, or whether it is better to split the burden between two or more smaller generators, also known as paralleling.
It is a more preferred option in numerous cases for a variety of reasons, including:
- Improved flexibility
- Load sharing can extend the life of each generator and reduce overburdening.
Why is it crucial to buy the right size generator?
- Increase usable life of the generator
- Consistent performance
- Limited capacity overloads
- Limited unexpected system failure
- Reduced likelihood of damages
- Increased personnel and personal safety
- Decreased risk of electrical fires
- Reduction in cost of maintenance
- Increased speed of maintenance, and more.
You might also be interested in:
How to select the right generator in South Africa