What is a standby generator?
A standby generator is a backup electrical system that provides power in the event of an outage or interruption. Within seconds of the power cut, the standby generator is triggered to start supplying power to appliances and systems throughout the premise. The units are typically installed on a permanent concrete pad, and can generally provide uninterrupted until normal power returns.
Building codes often require these systems for critical safety systems such as elevators and high risers. These units also ensure the business doesn’t suffer the costs or operational disruptions of lengthy power outages.
How does a standby generator work?
A standby generator is a permanently installed appliance with a natural gas, petrol or diesel engine that generates power during an electrical outage. The generating unit itself (typically known as an alternator) produces the same alternating current that your electric utility provides. Being a clean current means the frequency is stable, the voltage does not fluctuate, and the generator can supply enough current to start motors and handle fast-changing loads.
After identifying an outage or disruption in the mains supply of electricity, an Automatic Transfer Switch triggers the generator to start-up. However, to avoid starting during any momentary interruptions, the generator has a predetermined delay before starting. This period usually ranges from 2 to 10 seconds and is also fundamental to ensure the engine can handle a full load of all the electrical circuits in operation at once. Once the unit is ready, the automatic transfer switch will reroute the power from the main utility lines to the generator.
The automatic switch will only reroute the power back to the mains grid when a regular supply returns. This period is generally followed by a cool-down sequence, which ensures the unit is ready for operation when it is required next.
The instalment process for a standby generator varies significantly and is generally dependent on the unit, model, location, size and intended use. Before installing the unit, you should investigate:
1. Regulatory concerns
While many sites legally require a generator for their safe operation, there are extensive regulations which dictate the purchase and installation process. These factors can include:
• The noise of the generator – Standby generators do not run silently and make continuous noise during a black-out. The general rule is that larger generators are louder generators. Many local councils have noise regulations in place, which may influence your final decision.
• The placement of the generator. Your generator should be located in an easily accessible but conspicuous spot. Ideally, this location is somewhere within close proximity to the property, but away from other exterior units or neighbouring buildings.
• Infrastructure. There are several rules governing plumbing and natural gas connections, which must be considered during the installation process.
The generator must be installed to cater for the combined load of the appliances which you intend to run, while also considering the starting wattage of any appliances with motors. The more tools requiring servicing, the bigger your generator will need to be.
3. Electrical System
You’ll need to possess substantial electrical knowledge to ensure your standby generator is installed in-line with your existing electrical system. Running the wires may incur some basic carpentry skills too.
Why should you hire a professional for your generator?
With so many legislations and requirements, the safest way to install a generator is to employ a professional operator. Skilled technicians have the experience and knowledge to ensure your unit satisfies your load needs, local building codes, permit requirements and the logistics of installation. It is essential to select a company like Reactive Generators that provide maintenance options too. This end-to-end service will enhance the functionality and efficiency of your system, as well as capitalise on its potential lifespan.
How do you take care of a standby generator?
As a fundamental component of a back-up electrical system, a standby generator requires ongoing maintenance and servicing to ensure that it will perform when needed. At a minimum, a proper visual inspection should be conducted monthly, as well as periodic checks by a professional. Some essential tips to help with the visual inspection include:
• Maintain general cleanliness of the generator and its surroundings.
• Check oil levels.
• Ensure the system has adequate coolant
• Confirm there are no loose clamps or wire connections, and no corrosion or damage to the wiring.
Reactive Generators is committed to providing innovative and long-lasting generator solutions for clients across Queensland. We offer teams of skilled technicians in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Ipswich. Driven by a customer-focus, we work with our clients individually to establish their needs, goals and budget, before providing tailored advice. We also offer a comprehensive range of servicing and maintenance options to ensure you can get the most out of your generator.