Check These Pointers Before Buying A Generator

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From powering small appliances like a nail gun to large industrial facilities, generators help keep your world up and running. Playing a critical role in the workplace, either as a standalone or a standby, generators helps maintain your workflow. It is difficult to comprehend any industry that can manage without electricity. While the grid plays a huge role in supplying electric power, there are times when the grid fails and places where the grid does not exist. This is where generators come to the rescue. Given below are some places where generators are a must.

Business establishments – A generator is a critical piece of equipment for a hospital/healthcare center. Power outages without generator backup can result in life and death situations here. Given the reliance on data today, imagine what the result if a data center/server facility went down because of a power outage. Residences and offices would be in disarray if there was no backup power. 

Industrial sites – Mines are often located in areas that have no grid access. The only source of power there is generators. Construction works on remote sites also depend on a generator for their power. Even those industrial sites which are connected to the grid, need standby generators for instances when the grid power fails. Most agriculture farms depend on generators for their power requirements. 

A generator allows you to avail electricity, whenever you need and wherever you need it.  It is an integral part of our living requirements. However, before you go out and get yourself a generator, certain basic questions need to be addressed. Where do you intend to use the generator, how frequently do you intend to use it and how much power do you require. A reliable dealer could help you in your decision making based on your answers to these questions.

Types of Generators

The three categories of generators are:

Portable generators – Portable generators are exactly what the name signifies – they can be moved around from one place to another. Available in both electric and motor-powered systems, these generators allow flexibility of use in terms of application and location. The motor-powered generators can be run either on gasoline, diesel, LPG, propane, natural gas, or on a combination of gas and electric as the fuel. 

Extremely popular, portable generators are used in residences, commercial establishments, construction sites, and rural areas. An invaluable resource for power, the portable generator can be used to power lighting systems, office facilities and appliances like computers, power tools, and air compressors – in fact, the possibilities are endless. Used in rural areas and agriculture facilities to power water pumps, in mining areas to operate small power tools and air compressors, in industrial units to power machines that are far away from electrical outlets, and at recreational facilities to provide uninterrupted power for the activities.  

Portable generators are generally used as backup gen-sets. Running them over prolonged periods is not advisable. The current generation of portable generators features many new additions such as push-button starters, automatic switch on and off, and display panels. 

Standby generators – Usually larger than portable generators in terms of size, standby generators are installed at a permanent location. While they can be installed inside a room /garage with adequate ventilation, generally they are installed outside the building. Used at residences, commercial buildings, healthcare centers/hospitals, and emergency service centers, standby generators are normally installed by qualified technicians. Connecting the facility’s power utility to the generator requires a thorough knowledge of the system and set-up.   

While there are electric standby generators that run on batteries, the most popular types of standby generators are those that run on gasoline, diesel, LPG, propane, or natural gas. Automatic start and shut off generators are preferred by most for their convenience and efficiency. These generators are very useful in areas where a break in the power supply could cause extensive damage – like hospitals, data centers, and warehouses for perishable goods. 

Inverter generators – The latest entrant in the generator market, inverter generators produce a single phase, pure sine wave using less fuel and producing less noise. Considered the best system in terms of carbon footprints, the inverter generator produces AC power, converts it to DC and then inverts it back to AC power. However, as of today, size is a constraint with inverter generators. While portable generators are rated up to 50,000 watts and standby generators much more than that, inverter generators can produce a maximum of 4,000 watts, making them useful for running small appliances only.  

Inverter generators are gaining popularity with people who undertake recreational pursuits like hiking, camping, and fishing. With generator technology expanding at a rapid pace, larger size inverter generators are not too far away. 

Find a Dealer of Repute

While searching for the right generator to buy, make sure that you find a dealer of repute to help guide you through the selection process. Most good dealers will work with you to understand your requirements and your limitations, before pointing you to a particular type and model. It makes sense to use their experience in selecting the appropriate generator, rather than finding out after the purchase that you have less or more power than required.  

To get the best value for your money, ask questions regarding the technology used, the pitfalls, the installation procedure, permits required, and alternative options. Before buying a generator, Brett Patterson from Able Sales recommends that you find out the warranty information and any repair services offered by the company. Make sure that all your queries have been answered to your satisfaction before you put your money down on the table. 

Installation

While portable and inverter generators will not need any professional installation, standby generators are another story. You may need to order a custom-built generator, depending on the fuel type, tank size, rating, and location. You will need to get a qualified technician to connect your power utility system to the generator and also ensure that all safety features are in place and working. Make sure to find out if there are any added charges for delivery and installation. Find out about the time taken for delivery and installation.

Check that the dealer has installed similar models in the past. With advancements in technology, generator models are constantly being upgraded by the manufacturers. Your dealer and the installation professional should have a thorough knowledge of the unit you are planning on purchasing. 

Check with the dealer regarding any permits that may be needed from the local authorities for installing a generator at your premises. Find out if they would do the needful to get the permits or would you have to approach the authorities on your own. Most good dealers have staff that will help you with the paperwork to obtain the required permits. 

Maintenance and Service

Your generator is going to be a critical piece of equipment for your business. A break-down in the generator will affect your earnings. You should know how long it would take for problems to be resolved. Ask your dealer if they provide support 24/7/365. Do they have backup units that can be set up for a temporary period? If yes, are there any charges involved? In case, you are planning on purchasing a portable or inverter generator, would you need to take it to the dealer in case of a problem or does the dealer offers on-site service and maintenance. In the case of standby generators, is there a distance limit with regards to on-site service? It is also important to know the strength of the technical/service team. Generator failures take place when in use and they are used when there is a power outage. Does the dealer have enough numbers in his service team to cater to multiple customers at different locations? 

Safety Features and Regulations

Electricity is a dangerous product, and generators produce electricity. Besides, they have moving parts that can cause significant damage in case of accidents. Make sure that your dealer and installation professional take you through all the safety features and requirements. Always ask for the manufacturer’s instruction manual on operating the generator and the safety precautions required. 

Storage of fuel also requires safety regulations to be followed. Many urban areas have their safety requirements and rules regarding generator installations. Ensure that you are aware of them before you purchase your unit. There are grounding regulations in place for generators, find out the regulations applicable to your type and size of the unit and set it up accordingly.

Warranties and Support

Check with your dealer if they provide any additional support beyond service, maintenance, and repairs. Some dealers may have facilities or arrange for your technical staff to undergo training and safety programs. Having your trained person would help in times of emergency and for small repairs, regular maintenance, and safety procedures. 

Be sure to check on the warranties offered. While manufacturers offer warranties based on time and hours of operation, many dealers offer additional warranties. However, most warranties become null and void if maintenance, service, and repairs are not done by either the company technical staff or the dealers. Check with your dealer before you allow your technician to look into the machine.