DON’T GET LEFT IN THE DARK: GENERATORS AND INVERTERS – WHICH IS WHICH AND WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU?
As more South African businesses open their doors, and as the country starts to resume economic activity, it is speculated that we can expect load shedding to return. Much like the iconic call of our local Hadeda, during load-shedding the rumbling of generators becomes a common sound across South African suburbs as people attempt to keep the lights on and appliances running during power cuts.
For those who have not yet purchased a generator and are thinking about it, but unsure on the best options, Orlando Luis, CEO of BRIGHTS Hardware stores gives the following guidance:
“Generators range vastly in size, power output and cost. Entry level 2 stroke generators, such as a 950-Watt unit, retail for under R2000 but are unreliable if the petrol/oil mixture is not consistent, so BRIGHTS recommends starting with no lower than a 4 stroke 1200-Watt generator.”
“A good option would be a Ryobi 1200-Watt pull start unit which will cost in the region of R3500 and has a run time of seven hours,” says Luis, who explains that with a 2 stroke model you have to premix the oil and fuel first in the correct ratios, whereas with a 4 stroke unit the fuel is housed in a separate tank and the oil in the engine like in a motor car. Luis further explains that the higher the Wattage of the generator the more power it outputs and so the more electricity it generates.
Going upwards from here good options for an affordable household use generator to power lights and basic appliances include:
- 2500-Watt, 4 stroke, pull start generator with a 10 hour run time and overload protection breaker for R4 299;
- 3500-Watt, 4 stroke, key start generator with a 7 hour run time and automatic voltage regulation (AVR) for R5 899;
- 5500-Watt, 4 stroke, key start with 8 hours run time and AVR for R9 299;
- 6500-Watt, 4 stroke, key start with 8 hours run time and AVR for R10 299;
- 7500-Watt, 4 stroke, key start with 7 hours run time and AVR for R11 099.
“All of these units use unleaded fuel,” says Luis. “There are also diesel-powered generators on the market. For example, BRIGHTS stocks 6000-Watt key start diesel units with AVR for R13 999. The prices start to climb after this, with a 10 000-Watt unit selling for around R25 000, and a 20 000-Watt unit for around R50 000. These more expensive models have a built-in change over switch that automatically switches over from Eskom power to generator power when needed and they are big enough to power large homes and smaller businesses.”
Then comes Inverter Generators which are ideal to connect to appliances as well as electronic equipment.
Luis says a 1200-Watt open frame pull start inverter generator will cost you in the region of R4000, while a 2500-Watt inverter generators will cost around R6000. “Then you get the silent, 2500-Watt – 3500-Watt, closed frame pull start units which sell for over R10 000. The larger silent units do become more expensive.
Silence is golden
This then introduces the question – what about people who live in complexes and housing estates that are not allowed to run a generator because of the noise pollution?
Luis says that the best option here is to purchase a pure sine wave inverter with batteries. All these units are silent except for the cooling fan which blows on the side. They also switch on automatically during load shedding.
“BRIGHTS sells a popular 600-Watt, 12-volt unit that is perfect for your home electronics. This unit retails for under R3000 and then requires one deep cycle battery at a cost of R2400. The next size up is the 1000-Watt 24-volt inverter for around R4000 which requires two deep cycle batteries at R2400 each. This unit gives you a longer life span during load shedding because of the two batteries.”
“The next size up, and which is perfect to handle larger appliances, is the 2400-Watt 24-volt version which sells for between R6000 and R7000. Again, you will need two deep cycle batteries. Lastly, BRIGHTS sells 4 kilowatt or 5 kilowatt 48-volt units for between R12000 and R13000 which require four deep cycle batteries. These units have solar connections as well so that you can add on solar panels to charge the batteries rather than charging them from the home’s mains. Larger units than these, such as 8 kilowatts and above sell for R20 000 upwards and require qualified technical visits to customers’ homes to work in combination with solar panel installations.”
“All of our BRIGHTS Hardware stores have on-site experts that can provide you with advice and guidance on generators and inverters and what is best for your needs and budget. We have stores in Boston, Blackheath, Langebaan, Mitchells Plain, Montague Park, Plattekloof, Uitzicht and Brackengate,” concludes Luis.
Please note that pricing on all of these units can fluctuate without prior notice. For more information or to browse the online store for current pricing visit www.BRIGHTS.co.za or your nearest BRIGHTS branch for more assistance.