Traditionally petrol and diesel have been the power source for backup power solutions but gas is emerging as a preferred option for various reasons. Here is a look at gas generators for backup power.
Types of gas generators
There are two main options when it comes to gas generators for backup power supply. These include:
- Standby gas generators
These are popular gas power solutions for both residential and commercial use whereby the generator automatically becomes operational in the case of a power outage. It is a permanently-installed backup power solution but is only intended for intermittent use during emergency power outages, making it ideal for load shedding.
- Prime gas generators
In areas where there is very infrequent or no permanent power supply, a prime gas generator would be a permanent power supply fixture. These are more prominently used in industrial applications, either relying on a gas hook-up to a utility line or gas cylinders which are delivered to the site. Prime gas generators are able to hold much larger loads than standby gas generators and can be found on construction sites.
The subset of the prime gas generator is the continuous power generator which effectively runs continually with a consistent load rather than at variable loads.
What are the advantages of gas generators?
1. Gas backup power is cost-effective
When it comes to long-term power backup supply, then gas is a much cheaper option than petrol or diesel.
2. Gas generators are lower maintenance
With diesel, there are more associated maintenance issues related to degradation, microbial contamination and water acclimation. With gas-fuelled backup power, there are none of these challenges.
3. Gas generators useful in wet conditions
Diesel generators can experience what’s known as ‘wet stacking’ when unburned fuel enters the exhaust because the engine is running below its intended operating temperature. Gas generators do not suffer from wet stacking, making them more suitable to wet conditions.
4. Gas generators don’t result in messy spills
Diesel fuel has the potential to spill which results in an environmental mess. The clean-up of diesel spills is extremely difficult and costly, with potential fines incurred.
5. Less pollution
Gas is clean burning and, while there is some form of contaminant emitted, it is less than that of a diesel generator, resulting in cleaner air quality. Gas generators also produce a lot less noise pollution than diesel.
What are the disadvantages of gas generators?
1. Initial costs of gas generators
Although gas generators are a lot less costly to run in the long-term, the initial costs of installation could be higher, particularly if there is a need to run a gas line.
2. Safety concerns of gas generators
Gas is a highly explosive fuel source so comes with some substantial risk, whereas diesel is the least flammable of the traditional generator fuel sources.
3. Efficiency disadvantage of gas generators
Although gas generators are a lot cleaner and more cost-effective, diesel generators are still a relatively more efficient backup power solution.
With load shedding set to be a fixture for the South African power grid in the foreseeable future, and taking into account the potential loss in revenue, industries will need to consider backup power solutions for continued productivity. Gas generators are an exceptionally good investment option and there are a range of sizes and models available. It’s worth consulting with industry experts on the best gas power solution for your particular business needs.
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