Tips on buying standby generators

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Electricity plays an important part in keeping the milking, ventilation, feeding, watering and refrigeration equipment running on our farms. That’s why a standby generator could be a worthwhile investment. But how do you choose the right generator for your operation? To help you with your selection, you might need to consider these recommendations:
l Electricity plays an important part in keeping the milking, ventilation, feeding, watering and refrigeration equipment running on our farms. That’s why a standby generator could be a worthwhile investment. But how do you choose the right generator for your operation? To help you with your selection, you might need to consider these recommendations:
l Most of all, remember that an emergency generator is not designed to power all electrical equipment at one time. The generator should, however, be large enough to allow life-sustaining equipment and equipment needed to maintain the quality of perishable commodities operating as needed.
l Begin by listing each major electrical heat, light and power load on your farmstead. Record the size of each in terms of kilowatts.
l Identify the loads that can be interrupted for extended periods (such as grain drying and some lighting). Note those which are critical loads such as milking equipment, water pumping, refrigeration, ventilation and feeding. This step will help determine whether a small capacity, portable generator can be “shared” among loads that can be delayed or sequenced.
l The number and size of electric motors that must be started is very important. Because a motor’s starting current is three to five time greater than its running current, the generator must be sized to handle the starting current of the largest motor, plus all other electrical loads that will be operated at the same time.
l Once you have an estimate of the minimum required load, determine whether a tractor-driven generator or a stationary engine-driven unit can best be used. If a livestock or poultry operation is often left unattended, an engine-driven generator that starts automatically will provide greatest assurance of available power for essential equipment.
l All standby generators must be wired with a double-throw switch to completely disconnect the generator from the power supplier’s electrical system. This switch prevents the flow of current into the utility lines, which could electrocute linemen who are working to restore power. The double-throw switch also protects the generator from potential damage when regular electric service is restored.
l Once you’ve acquired a standby generator, proper maintenance of that generator is also very important. Establish a periodic starting schedule to exercise the generator.
Also, keep bearings lubricated and electrical contacts clean. Operate a tractor-driven generator at least one hour every three months. Engine-driven units should be operated more frequently to check battery charge levels and other starting components.
It is important to remember that the voltage produced by a standby unit cannot be regulated as well as power delivered by Zesa.
As equipment turns on and off, the load on the tractor and generator varies. The voltage will vary according to the type and size of load. As mentioned above, a motor will draw up to five times as much power to start as it does to run. When the motor starts, the voltage will drop. When it turns off, the loss of load will cause the motor to speed up. The increase speed raises the voltage until the governor on the motor slows its speed.
The sudden ups and downs of the voltage can be tolerated by most motor driven equipment. However, sensitive electronic parts have a very narrow voltage tolerance. Also, delicate circuit boards tend to fail with over voltage conditions. Examples of sensitive electronic equipment are: televisions, VCR’s, microwaves and computers.
If electronic equipment must be operated with a standby power source, a power conditioner should be used. It will act as a buffer to filter and condition the power before it reaches the electronic equipment. Power conditioners are recommended for everyday use for computers.
-own correspondent