In the era of load shedding, it might seem prudent to buy a generator for home use. According to the Western Cape Government’s How to Beat Load Shedding brochure, this is not a good idea.

In the long term, it’s better to invest in battery back-up or solar and battery back-up, rather than a generator, the brochure says. “Although a generator may cost less initially, it requires diesel to operate, creates air and noise pollution and the cost of diesel is also likely to increase…”

Disadvantages of diesel generators for home users

There are several reasons why a diesel generator doesn’t make sense for home use.

Noise from diesel generators

Anyone who has heard a diesel generator knows how noisy they are.

A 1,500-kW generator can emit the same noise as a plane flying 300 metres overhead. Even a small generator with an output of 50 kW can create 85 decibels of noise. That’s as much noise as city traffic.

Noise pollution wouldn’t just annoy you and your neighbours, constant exposure to loud noise poses a serious health risk that can lead to hearing loss over time.

Dangers of portable generator fumes

The fumes emitted by portable generators contain carbon monoxide. This is an odourless, colourless gas, and is poisonous.

Exposure to moderate levels of carbon monoxide over a long period has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. It is also a possible cause of lung cancer.

Dependence on fuel

The dependence on diesel for fueling a generator is a serious fire-safety issue.

As a result, there are restrictions that apply to storing diesel. You can’t have more than 20 litres of diesel on your property. This fuel must be locked in a separate area and there must be a fire extinguisher of at least 4.5 kg on the property.

The cost of diesel fuel is also likely to increase as the demand for diesel increases. This would be an on-going expense to add to the initial price of a generator.

Environmental pollution

Backup generators using fossil fuel provide 9% of electricity consumed in Sub-Saharan Africa. They’re a significant source of environmental pollution. Generators emit particulate matter and nitrogen oxides into the air.

According to a report by the International Finance Corporation, “Generators consume the same fuels and emit the same pollutants as cars and trucks, except they are used in closer proximity to people’s homes and businesses. Often, emission limits for generators are also less stringent than for vehicles. As a result, the pollutants emitted from generators may represent meaningful but largely unaccounted or misclassified impacts on population health and the environment.

“As a pollution source, generators are often hidden from policymakers since their fuel consumption may be lumped in with the transport sector.”

A study by the Centre for Science and Environment in the city of Gurugram, India, found that the use of diesel generators increased pollution in residential areas by more than 30%.

Generator prices in South Africa

The main reason most people consider a generator for home use is price. Initially, a generator will cost less than a battery-based backup power solution that offers comparable capacity.

You can buy a 7 kVA diesel generator from Makro for R23,999 or pay as little as R2,999 for a 650 W petrol generator. Takealot offers a 5 KW diesel generator for R24,999.

Alternative to buying a generator: battery-based home backup power

In the long-term, it’s far better to invest in a battery-based backup for your home to alleviate the impact of load shedding. There are a number of advantages:

  • no noise – operates silently
  • clean – doesn’t burn fuel
  • safe – no fumes or polluting emissions
  • seamless – no ongoing maintenance
  • long-term value – no running costs.

A massive drop in the price of lithium-ion batteries over the past 20 years has made battery-based backup increasingly affordable.

REVOV offers backup battery power solutions that are affordable energy storage systems for residential use. Our solutions allow you to charge from the grid to ensure a reliable supply of backup power during outages or charge from a solar, wind or hybrid installation, for fully off-grid power.

Choose between new LiFe batteries and our revolutionary, affordable REVOV 2nd LiFe batteries.

REVOV 2ndLiFE lithium-ion batteries and prices

If you were thinking of buying a generator for home use, you might want to consider REVOV’s 2ndLiFe batteries.

They’re cost-effective lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries that are repurposed from electric vehicle batteries. In their 2nd life, our batteries are ideal backup batteries for homes and offices. They come with a 10-year warranty.

You can charge them off the grid or from solar panels to supply backup power or reduce your electricity costs (charge at non-peak tariffs and consume at peak hours). We currently offer specials on a variety of our battery solutions.

Contact us for a quote or to discuss your needs.