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Emergency generators & transfer switches

Power outages are a fact of life in the NT, particularly the Top End, where we experience severe weather events on a regular basis, such as the recent Tropical cyclone Marcus.

In fact, it doesn’t take a Cyclone to cause power disruptions, with significant outages commonly caused by powerful storm cells leading up to, and during the Monsoon season, despite the best, and sometimes Herculean efforts, of the crews at Power and Water.

These outages can last from seconds and minutes to many hours, even days, depending on a number of factors, chiefly the extent of any damage.

To try and make these extended outages more bearable, a lot of households have turned to portable generators, running extension leads to fridges, freezers, pedestal fans and portable lighting. Whilst this is a very workable option, there is another small addition that can be made to the household electrical system that provides much more flexibility in what can be run off the generator, and with a lot less fuss.

A Mains to Generator changeover, or transfer switch, is typically easily installed in most domestic premises, and together with a plug in connection and the inter-connecting wiring, a portable generator can be connected via an extension lead to the household switchboard, providing mains power to the whole house.

This plug in connection is limited to 15 amps, by PWC service rules (Permanently connected generators can be sized significantly larger and will be found in some households, rural properties and commercial premises but, I will leave this for another day). In a typical household this would allow the use of fridge and freezer, the household lighting, ceiling fans, television, and possibly an air conditioner or two, particularly modern inverter type split units, dependent upon size. This could also provide power to electronic ignition to gas cooktops and the like, that require power to operate.

Electric ovens, electric cooktops, electric hot water systems and heating appliances such as electric kettles and toasters should be avoided as they are high power consumers.

Consideration should be given, before purchasing, regarding the type of generator being bought, and the type of load it will supply power to. Electronic appliances can be particularly sensitive to erratic voltages, televisions and computers being prime examples. There are many different generators for sale out in the marketplace, and cheap is not always the best value for money. There are however, very good quality generators with excellent voltage regulation available at very affordable prices.
Here at Combined Electrical we would be more than happy to provide you with advice, and pricing, in regards to both generators, and the different possibilities for connection to your property/household.