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Backup Generators Keeping the Lights on in Cape Town

Reserve margins of electricity in South Africa are at critically low levels and continue to pose a long-term threat to the future of its industries and its citizens. Given the decaying state of the existing generating infrastructure, what is required is for the country’s ailing power plants, of which 90% are still coal-fired, to be decommissioned and replaced. Instead, in an effort to keep the nation’s lights on, Eskom’s available budget is being stretched to the limit simply to make running repairs to installations with working lifespans that have long been exceeded.


While it may be true that these efforts have reduced the need for load-shedding, it has not been eliminated. To ensure industries remain functional, businesses are able to trade, trains keep running, and families can continue to enjoy the essential applications of electrical power in their homes, backup generators have proved to be a necessity, from Cape Town to Musina.


Used both as a primary and an auxiliary power source, these machines are available in a wide range of sizes, from compact models designed to meet the more basic needs of a homeowner during a mains power outage, to a huge installation capable of powering an entire manufacturing plant, and everything in between. They may be driven by petrol, diesel, or liquefied petroleum gas, with each fuel having its own pros and cons.


Whatever their size or fuel of choice, they all consist of two main components; the first to provide a source of mechanical energy and the second to transform it into electrical energy. Though specific mechanisms differ, the mechanical energy is employed to vary the position of a coil relative to that of a magnetic field. In the process, an electrical current is induced in the coil. The output from these generators may be stored in batteries or used to power anything from the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town to airport traffic control towers, hospitals, and other vital services across the nation.


Selecting the right model for the job is important and purchasers need to consider not just the power requirements, but other issues such as noise, safety, and running costs. Generally, petrol-driven units are adequate for domestic purposes but, given the flammable nature of the fuel, stringent fire precautions are essential, as are measures to limit any noise that might disturb neighbours. Generally, diesel will be the fuel of choice in non-residential situations where considerably more power is often required. In such cases, it will be even more important to select a unit with sufficient capacity to handle the startup and running loads of each piece of electrical equipment to be powered.


In addition, where the unit is intended to take over in the event of a power outage, a smooth transition with minimal interruption to production is often crucial and modern generators can achieve this automatically by means of programmable logic controllers.


A specialist in turnkey installations, individually tailored to meet the established needs of each end user, PacB Power Solutions designs, installs, and maintains world-class gensets for clients in Cape Town and throughout South Africa. To ensure reliability, all projects incorporate equipment from the industry’s leading brands such as Perkins, Cummins, Scania, and Volvo.



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