So you live in an area affected by cyclones?
Although there are many well-documented ways you can prepare your home or business for the storm season, one thing that is often overlooked is the impact that power outages can have on your comfort, livelihood and safety.
Power outages are an inevitable and frustrating side-effect of the storm season. You can’t charge your phone, your fridge and freezer defrost – not to mention no TV, no oven, no air conditioning, no appliances and no lights. If you own a business, you probably won’t be able to operate as usual and will face costly downtime. Make no mistake – power outages are inconvenient, uncomfortable, expensive and, sometimes, downright catastrophic.
With the knowledge that you will probably be facing power outages in the coming months, it is definitely worth considering a back-up power plan. The most important part of that plan involves purchasing or hiring a standby generator. A generator can help keep you safe, comfortable, fed and connected with the outside world.
Before you go out and buy anything, the best thing you can do is research. Head online or speak to an expert. You want to purchase a generator that is a) the right size for your property and/or needs, b) reliable and c) safe.
When it comes to using a generator safely and efficiently, here are the most important factors to keep in mind:
COMPLETE MAINS BACKUP GENERATOR
•If you intend to use a generator to power your whole home or business, it must be connected via an automatic or manual changeover switch unless it is under 3.6 kVA. Both types of switches need to be connected to your main switchboard. An automatic changeover switch starts and stops the generator automatically when power is lost or restored. A manual changeover switch, on the other hand, will need to be manually switched to the ‘generator’ position in the event of a power outage.
•A licensed electrical contractor must be engaged to install both types of switches. It cannot be stressed enough how important this is. If you don’t, you will be putting both your home/business and personal safety in jeopardy.
•It is also important to understand what size generator you will need to power your home or business facility. An easy way to establish this is to have a look at your switchboard – this will tell you the maximum AMPS of the circuit breaker and if it is single or three-phase (240 or 415 Volts). If you are unsure, please contact your electrical contractor.
•Purchasing a mains backup generator is not a cheap investment, however a number of individuals and businesses consider it a worthwhile insurance policy. The question you should ask yourself is “if I didn’t have power for a 24-hour period, what would it cost me in terms of business and customers lost?”. Then factor this cost over the expected operating life-span of the generator which can be upwards of 25 years if maintained correctly.
•If you are looking at hiring a mains backup generator, it would be advisable to have a manual changeover switch installed prior to the storm season as this will reduce your downtime.
SMALL PORTABLE GENERATOR
•If you opt to hire or buy a small portable generator, only use it to power essential equipment, such as fridges. Try to avoid opening the freezer or refrigerator once the power goes out in order to keep food fresh for longer.
•Ensure you have enough fuel for your generator and remember to turn it off should you need to refuel at any stage.
•Keep all cables and leads away from water and check that all cables are in good condition – you don’t want any fraying or damage.
•Read the manufacturer’s instructions to find out the generator’s load rating and make sure you don’t exceed it.
•Only run generators in a well-ventilated area, ideally outdoors. If you’re concerned it might be stolen, chain it securely to a post.
•So long as you follow these important safety rules and use common sense, you will have the backup you need should the power go out.
•Always be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If in doubt, seek expert advice.