Malfunctions in the electrical network or its absence have long been no reason to abandon the use of household appliances. The problem is solved by compact or stationary autonomous stations that generate current – in most cases exactly the same as in a conventional outlet. We will figure out how generators work, what they are, how they differ from each other, what characteristics they have, and under what conditions they are used.
Generators are typically used to provide backup power in the event of a planned or unforeseen power outage. Such a technique will be useful not only for owners of summer cottages and residents of cottage settlements but also for people living in the city. A portable power station is also often used as the main source of power in the absence of a central line. For example, on construction sites, gardening associations, garages, and mobile retail outlets.
The power generating unit is powered by an internal combustion engine. During combustion, the fuel releases heat, which is then converted into mechanical energy. And she is already in electricity.
Before you buy a power plant, you need to understand how much power you need. There are different models for different purposes:
- Up to 2 kW – a portable option, suitable for tourism, picnic trips and fishing. Suitable for connecting low-power consumers.
- 2-6 kW – such models will already cope with providing electricity to a small house. Their power will also be enough for use in the field of construction or repair – they will effectively power most types of power tools.
- Up to 15 kW – These generators are already needed for more professional use: in a car service or in small-scale production.
- From 20 kW – Models with such high power will cope with providing electricity to an entire cottage with many connected consumers. They are also useful in warehouses and workshops.
Depending on the fuel used, there are three types of installations: gasoline,3 diesel, gas and combined. Consider them in order and start with the most common.
Devices of this type are the most popular and available on the market. Gasoline power plants are quite simple and straightforward to operate.
Usually, these types of electric generators are refueled with AI-92 gasoline. Its average consumption is from 1 to 2.5 liters per hour. It is important to note that gasoline generators have a certain limit of continuous operation – as a rule, no more than 8-12 hours. Therefore, such generators are not suitable as round-the-clock power sources. But they serve well as a backup device. This is especially true in private homes and cottages, where temporary shutdowns are not uncommon. Often, gas generators are used as portable power stations for short-term use while hiking or fishing.
It is worth noting that in the cold season, gasoline generators start up much better than their counterparts running on diesel fuel. However, at very low sub-zero temperatures, from -30 °, it is not recommended to turn on the engine.
In a conventional power plant, the quality of the current produced is highly dependent on various factors, including the type of load and fuel characteristics. When using an inverter or, as it is also called, a digital generator, several additional transformations occur: obtaining a direct current, passing it through a noise filter, and then reversely transforming it into an alternating value. Such a complex circuit makes it possible for the electrical signal to obtain high accuracy of voltage and frequency. High-quality current allows you to absolutely safely connect any sensitive electronics without fear of damaging it. For example, a computer or even measuring equipment.
Unlike a traditional electric generator, in an inverter device, the motor speed corresponds to the available load of the connected devices. If it is reduced, then energy costs are reduced. This results in fuel economy and relative noiselessness. Of the notable advantages, it is worth noting the small dimensions of the device: such models are almost 2 times smaller than the classic gasoline counterpart of the same power. The inverter generator can be carried even in one hand. This makes it especially comfortable to use while traveling.
High power from such devices should not be expected. Basically, they are limited to a value of 3 kW, which is enough to connect several undemanding household appliances. Conventional inverter stations run predominantly on gasoline. Among the shortcomings – their price is an order of magnitude higher than that of classic devices.
Such models are much more expensive. But the performance of such devices is usually higher than that of gasoline counterparts. The design of the motor provides for an increased service life, and maintenance is less frequent.
Diesel copies are mainly used for permanent use in the absence of a standard electrical network. Powerful models withstand the simultaneous connection of a large number of devices, even energy-intensive ones.
Basically, diesel generators are used in professional activities. Such units are well suited for uninterrupted power supply at enterprises, construction sites, and large industrial or warehouse facilities. The most productive power plants cost about a million rubles.
The diesel power generator is more efficient than its gasoline counterparts due to increased efficiency. Accordingly, the cost of generated kilowatt-hours is significantly less. The device consumes on average about 2-3 liters of diesel fuel per hour. Among the minuses – are massiveness and high weight. Therefore, they are more often used in a stationary format. You can’t exactly call portable diesel stations.
This type of generator is the least mobile of all and is most often mounted in a special place. This is due to the fact that this type of construction requires a tie-in to the central line or is tied to a replaceable cylinder.
The principle of their operation has a number of advantages. First of all, it is durable and reliable due to the absence of impurities like sulfur in the gas, like liquid fuel. Also, devices can brag about high profitability, thanks to the low price of fuel. The units use both compressed propane-butane mixtures and ordinary natural gas. The last option is the most profitable.
The power of such a device reaches tens of kW. Therefore, gas-fired power plants are installed mainly in large facilities with high energy consumption. The main disadvantage of the design is that the engine should only be started when the air temperature is above zero. This means that such units are suitable for operation only in heated rooms.
Gas generators are not very popular for domestic use. In this niche, combined devices are more in demand, which can work not only on gas but also on gasoline. Thus, hybrids combine the advantages of both types of devices.
The main difference between such models and a conventional electric generator is that the technical characteristics of the electricity received in welding generators are specially adapted specifically for welding. These units are resistant to increased loads, have increased efficiency, and can be operated in a wide temperature range. There are both petrol and diesel models.
Such power plants allow you to immediately start the welding process without installing special transformers and rectifiers. An ordinary generator, in most cases, needs to be prepared for welding, for example, buying additional equipment and accessories.
Of course, a separate tool and a conventional generator can be used for welding. However, you will have to correctly select the appropriate station and calculate the arc voltage and power. If you need a unit only for welding, it is better to buy specialized equipment.
Features of the generated current
Almost all commercially available household generators produce alternating current. Its technical characteristics correspond to the parameters of a conventional electrical network: 220 V, 50 Hz. Often, manufacturers additionally equip the units with a 12V DC supply function. This is true for recharging dead car batteries.
In most cases, a single-phase generator is purchased. This is the standard for private use. It allows you to power almost any household appliance of the appropriate power.
Three-phase generators can be used to power both three-phase and single-phase consumers. On the body of such power plants, there are sockets for 380 V and 220 V. Such units are mainly used for industrial purposes: in factories, enterprises, and construction sites.
If you want to be completely confident in the smooth operation of the power system, you should choose a model with auto start. This option will allow you to restore the power supply almost instantly. In the event of a power outage, the generator will turn itself on. Due to this, continuous operation of the connected equipment is ensured.
The most important thing when choosing a generator
- For domestic use, a gasoline model is suitable. These generators are the most affordable.
- If you do not need a lot of power and there is a margin for the budget – take the inverter model. Its portability is especially useful when traveling.
- Pay attention to the number of phases and the presence of a DC outlet if you need them.
- For the purpose of an uninterrupted supply of electricity to a house or a small production, a station with a connection to a gas main is ideal. If there is none, take an electric generator that runs on diesel fuel.
- For welding, it is best to immediately take the appropriate model: gasoline for a private home and diesel for professional activities.
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