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What is the Difference between a Standby Generator and a Prime Generator?

What is the Difference between a Standby Generator and a Prime Generator?

11th Apr 2022

Wherever your business is, you need a reliable power source to ensure everything runs smoothly. So, when you hear terms like prime and standby power, it can get a little confusing about what your application requirements are.

Whether you need to prepare for power outages, work in remote locations or plan for ongoing electrical maintenance, we’ll shed some light on standby vs. prime generators. So you know what you need for your home or commercial application.

What is a Standby Generator?

A standby generator is a backup power solution that provides electricity automatically when there is a power outage. A power outage could be due to natural or manufactured disasters, emergency maintenance, load shedding or electrical defaults.

Standby generators are used in residential, commercial and industrial areas and will usually sit on a concrete foundation just outside of a building. The generator will sit idle until they are required for use. As a result, when a power failure is detected, the machine will signal its engine to start immediately without disrupting the power flow.

How does a standby generator work?

Standby generators are usually paired with an automatic transfer switch (ATS) to safely allow your main power supply to your generator. The switch will safely disconnect your facility from the primary utility power grid.

When a power outage occurs, the ATS will kick in, prompting the generator to start within a few seconds after an outage, avoiding any costly downtime. They will run for hours at a time, some can run up to 30 hours at a 100% load. Once the main power has been restored, the ATS will prompt the generator to shut down again. The generator will then naturally cool down when they’re not in operation.

What can a standby generator be used for?

. It can be used to maintain automated systems and server power on business sites to prevent data loss or to commercial factories or industry facilities in need of standby or backup power. Other applications include critical safety systems supplying standby power to elevators, fire protection systems, or medical and life support equipment.

What is a Prime Generator?

Prime generators serve as the primary source of power for operations used in instances where the site does not have access to the main source of power.

If you operate in harsh Australian conditions or remote locations, prime power offers both the reliability and durability of ongoing power. As a result, a prime generator suits off-grid applications but can also be used for on-grid applications where needed.

How Does a Prime Generator Work?

A prime generator is typically situated on-site away from public power sources, such as a remote building site or hard-to-access areas.

They also work in locations that don't have access to power lines. Prime power will be used on a variable power basis; for every operational hour spent at 100% power, the generator will also spend an hour at 40%.

Due to the variable load that is accessible, it is not advisable to exceed the 70% prime power rating during an operational period of 250 hours.

Do I Need a Standby or Prime Generator?

Both standby and prime generators offer benefits to your business in the case of an emergency. They both, also supply your business with electricity to minimise disruption caused by an outage.

Unlike prime generators, standby generators can only be used for situations where power outages occur.

As a result, a standby generator is needed most where continuous power is critical, such as elevators, fire protection systems, standby lighting, or medical and life support equipment. If your business has any of the above, it is important to look into a standby generator to stop the potential of failed systems.

You can set up a standby generator at:

  • Trade sites
  • Office locations
  • Medical facilities
  • Mining sites
  • Industrial warehouses
  • Data centres
  • Construction sites

In comparison, a prime generator is built to withstand the extreme conditions of the Australian outback where consistent and reliable power is needed.

For businesses located in remote locations across Australia, a prime generator will make sure that all machinery, systems, devices and site equipment continue their efficiency.

A prime power generator will remove the potential loss of critical data and work productivity. It will also allow you to have power in any location across the country. A must for businesses who operate in mining, construction, agriculture, industrial locations that don’t have access to a local electrical network.

Generator Ratings Explained

Along with the different load sizes, a generator is classified by different ratings. This can be in the form of an ISO rating, which is the internationally recognised standard for engine-powered generators. Other ratings that you’ll come across are:

  • Emergency Standby Power (ESP) - ESP-rated generator set must provide power for the duration of an outage.
  • Limited Time Prime Power (LTP) - LTP-rated generator set must provide power for up to 500 hours per year. With the maintenance intervals and procedures being carried out.
  • Prime Rated Power (PRP) - PRP-rated generator must provide power for an unlimited number of hours per year.

Other Factors When choosing a Standby or Prime Generator?

Deciding to purchase a generator is crucial in maintaining your business processes in the long term. Here are some other factors to consider when purchasing a standby or prime generator:

  1. The location of where the generator will live
  2. Amount of power needed to run the site
  3. Level of quietness needed
  4. Diesel, gas or petrol?
  5. Runtime of the generator (on-going or just for emergencies?)
  6. THD & clean power levels
  7. Finding a reputable supplier with a good warranty

How Much Do Standby & Prime Generators Cost?

There are standby and prime generators to suit a range of budgets:

Prime generators: start at around $20,000 for a 44KVA unit through to $100,000 for a 500KVA unit.

Standby generators: start from around $9,000 to over $200,000, spanning from 10KVA to 770 KVA.

Blue Diamond's range of of standby and prime generators provide reliable, steady electricity during power outages and remote locations where main power is unavailable. With a dedicated team and over 30 years of industry experience, Blue Diamond Machinery can help with you your standby or prime power generator requirements. We supply our renewable range Australia-wide, from Melbourne and Perth locations to SydneyBrisbane and Adelaide. Wherever you are located, we can assist. If you would like further guidance from one of our team members please contact Blue Diamond Machinery on 1800 025 546.