Generator manufacturer Propower Generators says that many companies are being sold standby-rated generator sets that are not powerful enough to meet their specific needs.
Propower Generators sales manager Mike Meiring says that it is vital that a generator is specified for the altitude in which it will function.
“If, for example, a generator is rated at 100 kVA at sea level and it is brought to Johannesburg and does not have a turbo installed, it needs to be derated by between 18% and 20%. If it does have a turbo installed, it is derated by 8%,” he says.
He explains that many people are being sold generators that are rated for use at sea level and are, therefore, too small. At full capacity, a 100-kVA generator, in Durban, would function as a 92-kVA generator in Johannesburg.
“When the power load is switched over to a generator and that generator is underspecified and is running at 100%, the engine will fail, rendering the generator ineffective,” says Meiring. He compares this to pulling off in fifth gear when driving a car.
The company aims to educate prospective clients on the problems associated with gene- rators that have not been specified correctly.
Propower Generators is the preferred supplier of generators to retail outlet Spar and tyre dealer Tiger Wheel & Tyre. It is currently in negotia- tions with petrochemicals giant Shell SA to provide around 800 service stations with backup power generator sets.
The company has also opened a branch in Zimbabwe and has agents in Zambia. Generators have already been supplied to diamond mines in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“The Zambian and Zimbabwean market is improving; however, it will take quite some time to get our opera- tions running properly, as the infrastructure is still inadequate,” says Meiring.
Meanwhile, the company is considering importing Chinese components, in addition to its European components, to open the company up to a new market in need of cheaper generators.
Meiring says that there are certain sectors that desperately require generators, but cannot afford them. The company is aiming to provide these sectors with good-quality Chinese gene- rators at a reduced rate.
Each generator manufactured by the company is sent through the on-site load bank testing machine, where the generator runs at full load for an hour. Meiring says that this is quite gruelling for a machine and, if there is a problem, it should be picked up during the test.
“We make sure that there is no paint on the turbo. If you buy a generator and there is paint on the turbo, it means the machine has not been tested.”
Meiring adds that, before anything leaves the manufacturing plant, it needs to be 100% correct.
“I believe that I would rather spend money on staff that manufactures, than spend money on service staff that have to service unreliable machines that are under warranty. This is an expense that is a complete waste and we do not make money out of servicing or breakdowns,” concludes Meiring.