In your lifetime, no matter how brief an experience, you will be on the receiving end of numerous amounts of power cuts and outages.
If you live in India for example, these will be commonplace. Last year, there was a report by Ofgem which reported the incoming risk that Britain may face rolling blackouts come 2015. Even America is not immune to the odd power outage, with no less than their ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ falling victim to a blackout, as just after half-time SuperBowl 47 came to a halt when the lights went out. So with the apparent energy crisis not letting up and not even planning to for a while, why are we still so content to let these random outages pass over us, and with proposed extended periods without power in the future, should we remain as passive as we have been?
It’s not only planned blackouts, but natural disasters which can only be predicted so far in advance that tend to strike, and when they do, they tend to strike hardest. Last year was the wettest year on record since people started writing these details down. The snow at the beginning of this year also came with its share of problems, with power lines and cables failing, homes and businesses abandoned or ruined due to adverse weather. The answer to everything is not going to be generators, but they are a good place to start. They can’t cure the weather, or fix a downed power line, but in most cases, they bypass the problems presented by both.
In this small series, I’ll be writing about the ins and outs of generators, explaining what you need to be looking for, what can you do and what you need to know about powering your home, business and life:
Well firstly, you need to know that there are different types of generator. Not just by different brands, and not even as innocuous as petrol or diesel. There are, for those who aren’t in the know, more than just one type of generator. There isn’t just one type and they don’t all do the same thing. They all share a common goal, but some do it in very different ways, and the output, usage and price of a generating set all depends on what you plan to use it for.
We’ll focus primarily on smaller scale generators for the time being. Chances are if you don’t really know much about them in the first place, then you probably won’t want one to run as backup for a hospital, city power grid or large maritime shipping vessel.
However, backup can come in many forms, and home and small business backup is probably more of an issue to the discerning end user.
So much of what we do from day-to-day is dependant on electricity and power. Backup power is the next logical step as we move forward into an era where even in the first world, this supply is under threat. Aside from backup generators, you also have the automatic or permanent generators. Constantly wired into a buildings electrical system, with the use of auto-transfer switches or in-built technologies, they will automatically trigger and spring into life when they notice the absence of grid power.
These machines are usually a lot large, as they are free-standing units, which need to pull a lot more power, more regularly so will generally have a larger engine and be much bigger units. They’ll also cost more in general, but it’s important to get the right machine for your needs. There is no point trying to get a backup machine to run your home or business. You cannot trick a smaller generator into running more often than it should be used for and it is false economy to use a smaller generator slightly less in order to prolong it’s running life. At the end of the day, you’re trying to maintain your current working and home life, not just muddle through.
However, unless you’re moving somewhere off-grid, you necessarily need to go for anything other than a backup generator, which will keep the size and cost down.
For more information on what else you need to know about generators, stay tuned for the next instalment from me.