You probably already own a generator or planning to buy one soon, most especially if you are a living in Nigeria. This alternative power solution is as important as any other equipment in a Nigerian house and business and it is a sure way to combat the electricity crisis currently plaguing the country. Now while substantial arguments can be made about other viable and more environmentally friendly alternatives to the diesel and petrol generators like the new Inverters, we cannot deny that for now, the I-Better-pass-my-neighbour generator (as small generators are mostly referred to in Nigeria) is still the most patronized of these alternatives.
Some of the questions you may have are: How do I choose the best generator? What should I consider before getting a generator?
These are the questions we will be addressing as we run through the five things you should consider before getting a generator.
The very first thing that you should ascertain before venturing into other considerations is your budget. How much are you willing to spend on a generator? Other factors will obviously influence your budget like if you have steady power supply where you live, and you simply need a generator as a minor backup, then you might not need to break the bank for a generator, an inverter might be suited to your needs even. However, if electricity supply is non-existent where you are and you in dire need of power, this might influence your budget because in this case there is obviously a greater need.
So, the first step to getting a generator is determining just how much you need it and how much you have. This doesn’t have to be a fixed value, you can work with a flexible range to ease your decision making.
- Power Needs
Your power needs can certainly tie back to your available budget. However, the primary determining factor for generator size can be answered with the following questions:
In the event of a power outage, should the generator run the entire building or just emergency loads? Do you want to use this generator for commercial purpose or residential purpose? Do you have heavy electrical equipment that requires more power like pressing irons, Air conditioners, water pumping machine? and if you do have all these how many each do you own and how often would you need to operate them?
Once you have a clear understanding of these you begin to have an idea of just how much power requirements the generator will have to carry. Usually, houses in Nigeria can require between 31.25 – 56.43 Kilowatts of Energy.
Walk through the house and make a list of everything you want to power during an outage. Look for a label on each appliance (they must have one) that contains information such as wattage, model number and the year it was made. Some labels are right inside the door on appliances; others are on the back, so you may have to pull the appliance away from the wall. Write down the item and how much wattage it uses. Be sure to include essential items, like refrigerators, freezers, a Well pump if you have one. You can go a few hours or even days without an oven (use the microwave instead) and an air conditioner—they use a lot of power and would require you to buy a much bigger generator.
Add together the items’ wattages, then multiply that number by 1.5 (appliances need the extra power to start up). That’s the minimum wattage needed for your generator.
Microwave: 600 to 1,200 watts
Refrigerator: 700 to 1,200 watts
Freezer: 500 to 1,200 watts
Washing machine: 1,200 watts
Television: 300 watts
Laptop computer: 250 watts
Air conditioner: from 1,500 watts
When checking out for generators you would like to purchase you should not only consider the aesthetics, you should also consider the power ratings and make sure the generator’s power ratings exceed the proposed power requirements of your homes. Now, this might pose a bit of a conundrum as you probably calculated your power needs in Kilowatts while the generator power ratings are in KVA, but the internet has made everything easy, just click here.
Usually, a 2.2 KVA generator should be appropriate to serve your household power needs.
- Power Needs
This is another important thing to consider as diesel generators will cost more than petrol generators. These different fuel types have their pros and cons, but it is very important that you choose a generator with a fuel type that is relatively affordable and is easy to obtain.
Some generators need little to no expertise to properly install while some will require additional costs and skills. Be careful to know the installation process for any generator you are hoping to buy. Also, some generators may require extra space than others depending on their size and configuration. Remember you want to have the generator exhaust pipe pointing away from your windows and at a considerable distance from your home. So, you might want to consider the amount of space you have available in your house premises and start to envision the safest and most efficient place to properly install your generators. Feel free to seek professional advice on this and do not play down its importance.
- Noise level
This is often considered a setback of most generators, and it is very difficult to tell just how loud a generator will be before you use it. This is another reason why you must properly conceptualize the spaces around your home and try to place your generator in a position where its sound does not become a problem for you or your neighbours. However, I often recommend that after identifying the generator you want to buy, you can do a small research on it to find out just how noisy it is by asking people who use the same brand or go online and read possible comments about just our loud the generator gets. You certainly don’t want a noisy generator, so you must cover all grounds here.
In the end, choosing the perfect generator can be a herculean task but following these five easy steps can help ease the stress.
Tomide Adeyeye’s article on “Seven Things To Consider Before Getting A Generator In Nigeria” Here
The DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine in “Choosing the Best Generator” Here