FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT IS THE CORRECT USE OF PORTABLE GENERATORS?
As load shedding and power interruptions increase during the winter so does the sale of portable generators. These generators can be dangerous if not used correctly as they are designed to be “portable” which means that appliances need to be plugged directly into the generator as opposed to a “standby” generator which is designed to carry the full load of your house. Portable generators are much cheaper and smaller than standby generators and can be purchased from any hardware store. Both of these generator types need to be installed correctly by a qualified electrician in order to ensure your safety and to comply with regulations.
Many people purchase these generators and simply plug it into an electrical socket to supply power to their electrical installation.
THIS IS NEITHER LEGAL NOR SAFE TO DO for the following reasons:
If the main switch is not switched off whilst the generator is on, power will be fed back into the municipal distribution grid which can potentially electrocute someone working on the line feeding your area. It can also damage your generator if the power is restored by the municipality/Eskom.
Your earth leakage protection will also not work should there be an earth fault in your house. This is due to a floating neutral on the generator and if someone is electrocuted, this protection device will not function
You are basically supplying your whole house through a socket that has a 2.5mm cable, both the socket and cable are underrated for the load which is normally supplied via a 16mm cable. This can be a serious fire hazard because the cable can heat up and catch fire
According to SANS 10142-1 184.108.40.206 a changeover switch must be installed to prevent back feeding power to the grid and according to clause 220.127.116.11.3 the neutral and earth must be bonded at the unit to prevent a floating neutral condition.
Installing a change over switch has an added advantage because it has two pilot lights, which indicate when the mains or generator is on.
Please give us a call to ensure that your installation is safe and correctly installed.
NEVER PLUG THE GENERATOR INTO THE WALL SOCKET
What is a voltage surge?
A voltage surge is a short burst of high voltage that often occurs on the main supply to your home or business premises, this can potentially damage electronic equipment like your TV and DSTV decoder, computers and printers, smart fridge and stoves, gate motors and electric fences.
What causes a surge?
Surges are caused by lightning strikes and by switching operations on the power system.
What are surge protection devices?
SPDs protect equipment by limiting the surge voltage to which the equipment is exposed, at the same time they divert dangerous surge currents to earth and away from sensitive equipment. The device should be installed by a qualified electrician in the main DB.
NB: It is very important to note that SPDs cannot guarantee that equipment will not get damaged during a lightning storm, however having one installed will greatly reduce the chances of damage.