If you are living in Nigeria, you should know that Generators are our thing! Sadly though. With the unreliable and epileptic power supply that the Nigerian power sector provides us over the years, Nigerians have learnt to romance with portable generators. We cannot do without it.
Types of Generators:
So, you’ve decided to buy a generator. Generators are a fantastic way to ensure power during blackouts and help to provide power to places where electrical service is not an option. If you’re doing a home renovation and are reconsidering a few things, a generator would be a great appliance to add. The question now is: what size and type of generator do you need for your home? This article will help you figure it out.
To determine what size generator you need to power your whole house:
- Figure out the starting wattage (i.e. “surge” wattage) of the appliances and fixtures you want to power.
- Find a generator powerful enough to exceed the combined wattage of everything that needs electricity.
We’ll walk you through the process in more detail below. Before we do that, let’s look at how generators are sized.
How generators are sized
Generators are sized based on their electrical output, not their physical dimensions. They’re measured in watts (W) or kilowatts (kW), both of which are a measurement of electricity (1kW = 1,000W).
It’s important to get the right size generator.
Why do you ask? Well, if you get a generator that’s…
- Too small, you’ll overload the generator, or force it to supply more power than it can handle. If this happens, the generator will either automatically turn off or overheat, which will fry not only the generator but also your costly appliances.
- Too large, you’ll overpay for both the unit and the cost to operate it.
That being said, let’s look at how you can calculate what size generator your home needs.
Calculate what size generator you need in 3 simple steps:
To calculate what size generator you need to power your whole home, follow these 3 steps:
Step 1: List out every appliance you want to power.
Step 2: Determine the starting and running wattage of everything on your list. You can always find these numbers on the appliance label on the side or back of your home appliances.
Note: Starting wattage (also known as “surge wattage”) refers to the wattage an appliance needs at start-up. Starting wattage is normally 2–3 times higher than its “running” wattage, or how many watts an appliance needs to run constantly.
Step 3: Add the wattage together. Then, use this number to guide what size generator you need.
If you’re up for trying it yourself though, let’s look at a couple of examples.
Power just the essentials:
If you want to power just the “essentials”, your list might look something like this:
In this case, you’d need at least a 25kW generator, since the starting wattage is 24,100W.
Power your whole home:
If you want to power just about everything in your home, your list would probably look more like this one:
In this situation, you’d probably want at least a 35kW whole-home generator.
The Difference Between kW and kVA
Outside of the generator industry, the term Kilo-Volt-Amperes (kVA) is often met with confusion.
We’ve all heard of Kilowatt (kW): it’s what we learnt at school, it’s how our electrical items at home are rated and it’s the unit we see on our electricity bill. It’s probably not until you need a generator that kVA even enters the equation.
So what’s the difference between kW and kVA? And, more importantly, how do you convert between the two?
A genius once thought to explain the relationship between kW and kVA using something we would all understand…beer. Yes! Beer
So imagine you’re sat in your local Beer Joint, a Glass full of beer in hand. The total contents of your pint glass (liquid + foam) is the kVA. However, only the liquid part of your beer serves to quench your thirst and this is the kW. The better the bartender (the more efficient the electrical system), the more beer (kW) you get. Ta-dah!
(We can’t take credit for the beer analogy but we thought we’d pass it on. If it helped, feel free to do the same.)
How to Convert from Kilowatts (KW) to Kilo volts amperes (KVA)
kVA: apparent power
kVA is a measure of apparent power: it tells you the total amount of power in use in a system. In a 100% efficient system kW = kVA. However electrical systems are never 100% efficient and therefore not all of the systems apparent power is being used for useful work output.
kW: actual power
kW is the amount of power that is converted into a useful output. kW is therefore known as actual power or working power.
Power Factor: a measure of electrical efficiency
You can convert between kVA and kW if you know the efficiency of the electrical system. Electrical efficiency is expressed as a power factor between 0 and 1: the closer the power factor is to 1, the more efficiently the kVA is being converted into useful kW. Generators have a power factor of 0.8.
The formula for converting kVA into kW is:
Apparent power (kVA) x power factor (pf) = actual power (kW)
e.g. 100 kVA x 0.8 = 80 kW
The formula for converting kW into kVA is:
Actual power (kW) / power factor (pf) = apparent power (kVA)
e.g. 100 kW / 0.8 = 125 kVA
This brings us to the end of this blog article and we hope that by now you can estimate to a considerable degree of accuracy the right generators for your home.
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