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Generator sets (sometimes called "gensets" for short) are generally not an "option" for offgrid systems. Rather, as an integral part of the system design, they are a "must have" piece of equipment. Not only do they provide backup in times of bad weather, but they also provide extra capacity for running heavy loads such as compressors, welders and water pumps. Following is some helpful information that you need to know regardless of whether you are hiring one for a day or investing for a lifetime.

Regardless of the generator you choose, make sure it has a minimum of an Automatic Voltage Regulator (AVR) output. Be aware that most cheap open frame "tradesman" type generators, do not have an AVR. Modern "inverter" type generators are an excellent choice, as they allow the motor speed to vary to according to loading to optimise fuel consumption, while maintaining a perfect output voltage and frequency, but they are usually limited to smaller sizes (typically less than 10kVA).

Petrol, Diesel or LPG?

Petrol is a good choice for small to medium size installations not expecting more than about 50 hours use per year. If you have a petrol generator always use Premium fuel, and run it at least once a month for half an hour to keep fresh fuel in the carburettor, otherwise it will become very difficult to start because petrol evaporates and becomes stale.

Low speed (1500 RPM) diesel sets are perfect for medium to large scale installations, and/or systems that will have high run times of 100+ hours per year.

LPG is an option for remote areas like national parks that cannot risk spillable fuels.

We highly recommend purchasing a generator with a "Two wire" remote start system, so that it can be automatically controlled via the inverter-charger system. This gives you the convenience of being able to turn anything on/off just like being on normal grid power in a city without giving any thought to the system as the generator will automatically start when the loads are too high or the batteries are too low. It also saves you walking to the power shed on the inevitably cold, dark (and probably rainy) nights, in the middle of winter.

Just because a generator has a key electric start, does not mean it can be remotely controlled!

The generator must be sized correctly! Bigger is not always better either, especially for diesels, to avoid glazing of the bores. As a rule of thumb, size the generator a minimum of 100% of the inverter size (IE 3kVa genset with a 3kW inverter-charger) up to a maximum of around 200%. Keep the generator always at least 50% loaded to ensure long life and the best fuel consumption. If you have a big genset with a small load, add some floodlights or heaters to keep the genset loaded up.

We recommend buying your generator locally, as it will always need service and support. If you are having trouble finding a suitable generator, we can supply the Honda "EU" 3kVa or 6kVa models with an optional conversion to a 2-wire remote autostart system.

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Honda Inverter Generator



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