The Ultimate Buyer Guide for Industrial and Backup Generators
A generator is a useful, portable, backup tool that enables you to operate electronic devices during blackouts or in remote locations that have no electricity. Generators are available in a variety of sizes and features depending on whether they are for recreational, domestic or enterprise applications.
The sheer vastness of options can be stymieing for a buyer who doesn’t know what to look for when trying to get a generator from generator companies in Nigeria. Examining the features of a generator can inform buyers on their suitability for specific tools, devices and appliances. A few features relate to power output, portability and voltage control, among others.
Interpreting information on a generator in Nigeria
Generators have a few important characteristics which are pivotal to a buyer’s decision. Some of the information is indicated on the generator itself while the rest can be found in the write-ups.
Power output information
- Rated Output – refers to the load a generator can support in normal circumstances. You’ll want to have a generator whose rated power is 20% of your electricity consumption or higher.
- Rated Output Frequency – in Nigeria, this must be 50Hz.
- Maximum Output – refers to the maximum power/load a generator can support. This maximum can only be maintained for short periods at a time (half hour or less). This means that even though your generator can support this maximum output, consumption should be limited to the rated output to ensure optimal performance.
- Output Voltage – refers to the voltage which the power unit supplies. In Nigeria, this usually lies between 220V and 240V.
- Single/three-phase output – most portable generators for small-scale and even industrial use are single-phase. However, three phase generators must be used to power high consumption applications such as powering huge diagnostic machines in hospitals e.g. CT scanners, MRI machines, etc.
Generator accessories and features
- Automatic transfer switch – this generator is advantageous in that it has a sensor to detect power outages and automatically turns itself on to minimize disruption after a blackout, eliminating the need to have a person on standby to turn it on every time power goes out.
- Starting mechanism – a generator can have one or more starter mechanisms which are key starting, remote starting and recoil starting. It’s easier to use remote control or key starters.
- Wheeled frames – this is important for larger generators, where wheeled frames and handles make it easier to move the generator around as needed.
Factors to Consider when buying a generator
1. Fuel source
Most commonly, generator suppliers in Nigeria offer diesel generators, which are simple and cost efficient to run. However, there are those powered by other fuel types including natural gas and propane gas. These are more expensive to run, but have the advantage of being more eco-friendly.
2. Manufacturer reputation
As with all electrical appliances, the history of the manufacturer should be considered – what is their reputation? What kind of reviews are there about their generators and other appliances? What is the rate of wear and tear for their equipment? Only purchase from trusted manufacturers with a stellar reputation to ensure you get the best service.
A second part is the distributor’s reputation. For instance, you should go for those who offer both generator sales and installation. In addition, they should offer after-sales service such as support, which will be vital to have in initial stages.
You should buy generators which are relatively simple to operate and troubleshoot. However, whenever a problem arises, contact the dealer first to avoid messing it up further. Ensure the generator is kept secure at all times and only operated by knowledgeable people. Inspect it for wear and tear from time to time, and replace parts that need replacing to maximize efficiency.
Determine what setting the generator should be used in and which appliances can be supported for that setting, knowing your power needs is essential to choosing the right backup generator.
For domestic and recreational use, consider the most important appliances that need to be powered during an outage. Most appliances include an indication for the amount of power they consume. Add up all the appliances and ensure your generator can support at least 20% above that number. Ensure that the power offered is stable as most home appliances are sensitive to fluctuations and low quality current/voltage. You should also consider portability and noise levels, especially in residential settings.
For professional use, you’ll need larger units with more wattage and setting options. You must factor in the motor starting needs of relevant appliances and equipment, which is usually 2-3 times its normal consumption. However, since startup is a short time, the maximum output should be able to support the extra need during that time.
5. Load type
There are three main load types for electronic equipment:
- Resistive loads – these are stable devices which need no extra power for startup and consumer power evenly. They don’t need a generator with high quality frequency, stability or voltage waveform.
- Reactive loads – these devices have motors and their performance fluctuates according to the quality of output. If low quality generators are used to run these devices, their motors’ lifespans could be reduced. They also need extra power to start.
- Electronic loads – they are extremely sensitive to power quality and fluctuation, and must have very stable power to operate. If not, they are likely to burn out or get spoilt.
Even if you have a high quality generator, avoid using it to power too many devices, or anything above what the generator can handle. To protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning, ensure the generator runs in a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors and pointing away from the house’s ventilation systems.
Carefully weigh all advantages and disadvantages to ensure you have the best generator that will give you long and optimal service.