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How to select and size diesel generators for backup power?

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Leading diesel generators specialist PowerCare advises first-time buyers to assess their power needs before investing in new equipment.

Buying the first power generator is not an easy task. Sizing is a factor where many buyers may err, ending up with an underrated generator that is unable to handle their tools, appliances and work. Incorrect sizing of a generator will damage both the generator as well as the appliances.

The most important thing to determine when choosing power backup for the home or business is how much electricity will be needed in an emergency. Three basic criteria, namely continuous (running) watts, peak (startup) power and surge capabilities will allow the generator to be correctly sized for any specific power backup requirement.

Guidelines for assessing backup power requirement:

  • A running load can be measured using a simple ‘amp meter’ or power oscilloscope, but may require the services of an electrician to determine accurate running load
  • For calculating the rating of a power system for starting requirements, kW as well as current surge capabilities must be considered
  • Fridges, compressors and electric engines require a large amount of current to start up called Locked Rotor Amps (LRA)
  • Most new appliances will have LRA on their name plate, but if LRA is not available, seek help from a qualified electrician or use the typical appliances power flow chart from the PowerCare website
Information about conversion of KVA to Amps for three-phase and single-phase connections in Australia is available on the PowerCare website.

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