Build Power Supply

Because we were off-grid, the builders included provision of temporary power in the contract, with the correct assumption that we would not install the solar system until the end of the build (too expensive to insure for theft in an unoccupied property).

When asked, they told us they had allowed $10k! So we told them to take it out, and that we would supply the power.

We considered a number of options:

  • We could have installed the solar system early – but with problems getting the shed structurally sound and approved, and the high insurance premiums, this did not seem like a good idea.
  • We could have installed our permanent silenced all weather diesel generator early, but diesel engines HATE being run at low load – I could see it needing replacing by the end of the build or at least in need of some major TLC/overhaul. Our 10kVA generator driving a radio for the tradies did not seem like a good idea.
  • We couldn’t find a cheap, suitable second hand generator.
  • We ended up buying a trade spec Abel 8kVA petrol generator for $1090.

We wanted “trade spec” since this is the required workplace standard under occupational health and safety rules. Since the build is a workplace, we wanted to be safe and compliant. Tradespec generators have:

  • Weatherproof outlets
  • RCD safety switches
  • Circuit breakers
  • Wheels
  • Handles
  • Lift Bars

We selected petrol because we assumed the builders would use very variable loads, which a petrol engine will be quite happy with.

The 8kVA is probably a bit of an overkill, but we wanted to make sure that we couldn’t be blamed for holding up the build, or need to get another one. The builders weren’t sure what size was required, so I looked at start loads for common power tools and large air compressors, although mostly these are battery operated now, and the generator will likely get used for battery charging, and maybe an air compressor. The framers brought their own generator and theirs was 7 kVA.

We chose the Abel generator because it was CHEAP, had a good size tank with upto 16 hours operation before it needed a refill, key start, with pull start backup, had relatively good reviews (a few complained there were issues from the start, but many others said it was great) and was easy to pick up in Melbourne. It has a one year warranty, so is covered for the duration of the build, but if it breaks we will likely need to replace it, unless they can fix it immediately.

It’s only air cooled, which means it shouldn’t be run for more than 6 hours at a stretch, without being shutdown and allowed to cool – Abel told me this, and said it was true for all air cooled generators.

I’m sure it won’t be as reliable/last as long as the much much more expensive Honda/Japanese gen sets, but we only need it to last for the build, and could not justify the expense.

So far, its started first time, every time and working exactly as advertised. The builders are happy with it and say they’ve been using it. They can’t have used it much though because we’re yet to put any more fuel in it – so its economical to run too. I’ll have to check the hour clock….

So far so good – we’ve saved $9k!

And hopefully in about 6 months, there will be a hardly used trades spec Abel 8kVA petrol generator for sale, at a great discount at say $700 (that’s $400 off retail!!).

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