Generators – A Practical and Affordable Option

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In an era of unreliable power and an environment prone to the threat of natural disasters, homes and businesses across the Caribbean have resorted to the purchase and installation of Generators primarily as a backup source of continuous and reliable power.

Historically, generators have been identified as a dirty, smelly and noisy diesel engine and a necessary evil. Like most machines with engines, Generators today have evolved with time and have changed extensively to become significantly more fuel efficient, reliable, quiet and environmentally friendly.

The diesel engines of today are wonders of modern technology. Computers have taken over and ‘Full Authority Electronic Engine Management’ as it is known has replaced the old mechanical fuel injection pump. A dedicated engine computer now has full control of all parameters of the fuel injection process on the engine so fuel delivery, on a per cylinder basis, is now precisely controlled. And it’s so precise that the computer can adjust the fuel injection time, quantity and duration on each cylinder, for each stroke of the engine. That adds up to thousands of micro-adjustments every second as the control system continually ‘fine-tunes’ the engine.

These improvements along with regular servicing using genuine replacement parts have increased not only the reliability of generators but the life-expectancy of the engine has almost doubled. The industry standard life expectancy for an industrial diesel engine was always thought to be about 8,000 to 10,000 hours of use, but we are regularly seeing engines last much longer before they’re considered worn out. We have several customers who run their businesses on generators full-time and we fully expect these engines to last at least 20,000 to 25,000 hours. We actually have a customer in Dominica who has been running their hotel with our generators for 15 years straight! They have a staggering 40,000 hours on their engines without ever having any major repairs. That’s roughly equivalent to 2.4 million miles on a vehicle!

Fuel efficiency improvements have also had a major impact on generator use and it’s now common for these electronic engines to produce electricity 30% to 35% cheaper than using mains electricity (depending on what country you’re in and what your fuel costs are) but it’s not all about the cost of electricity – it’s the quality of the electricity that also has been impacted. Our customers routinely report lower maintenance costs for their consumer equipment because being on an isolated grid means that they are no longer subject to voltage fluctuations from their mains power supply – the infamous Caribbean ‘brown-out’ which is like the Grim Reaper for any connected electronics!

Diagnostics & maintenance have been all but re-invented too. It wasn’t so long ago that tool-kits were packed full of wrenches and screwdrivers. These days it’s a laptop (thankfully much quieter) and you just plug into your engine and you’re away. The engine computer keeps a full history of all events, including exactly how much fuel it has used over its life-span and how much load it has been subjected to over what periods of time. Full engine diagnostics are a mouse click away and fault finding is no longer a frustrating three day episode.

Generator control panels have also succumbed to technology and are themselves computers dedicated to monitoring and controlling all aspects of the generator. They are now easily capable of ‘synchronizing’ — a method of interconnecting generators together to parallel their power. This adds up to even better fuel consumption as you no longer need to run one large generator during low load periods, you can now have two smaller units with synchronizing control panels and run one small generator, saving fuel & maintenance and at the same time increasing your redundancy factor. As the connected load increases, the control panels will automatically start the next generator and put it on line, sharing the load between the two generators. These control panels can be tailored to each customer’s specific needs offering options like automatic refueling, remote control of auxiliary equipment, programmable alarms for an endless list of events and even access to remote generator monitoring and control.

So, when looking at your power supply options for your home or office and considering the other variables, you may wish to consider purchase and installation of a Generator for your comfort and peace of mind. They are affordable, reliable, efficient and environmentally friendly. •

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