Link generator

How much does it cost to run a generator compared to buying a backup battery?

Although generators are less expensive than an equivalent battery backupthe cost of their operation can be quite high depending on the intensity of the load shedding.

MyBroadband has figured out how much smaller generators — capable of running your internet, computer, TV, and a few other devices — cost to run at different Stage 2 and 4 load shedding frequencies.

For our calculations, we used variable load shedding periods for the stage 2 and stage 4 outages.

The periods we used were:

  • 60 days — 180 hours in Stage 2 or 360 hours in Stage 4;
  • 120 days — 360 hours in stage 2 or 720 hours in stage 4; and
  • 180 days — 540 hours in Stage 2 or 1080 hours in Stage 4.

A breakdown of the cost per hour to run a range of small petrol generators is provided in the table below. We used June 93 unleaded fuel price of R23.94 per litre.

The table also includes the projected cost per load shedding period of Stages 2 and 4, as well as the price of the generator.

Generator Fuel Costs
Generator Price Consumption Cost per hour Cost: Stage 2 Cost: Stage 4
Ryobi 1200W 4-Stroke Pull Start Generator R3,999 1.07L/hour R25.62 R64.05 R115.29
MAC AFRIC 2.8 kVA (2 KW) Standby Gasoline Generator R4,495 0.82L/hour R19.63 R49.08 R88.34
Ryobi 1200W Open Frame Inverter Generator RG-1280I R4,999 0.83L/h R19.87 R49.68 R89.42
MAC AFRIC Inverter Generator (1800W) R7,250 1.00L/hour R23.94 R59.85 R107.73

The most fuel efficient generator compared is Mac Afric’s 2.8kVA standby gasoline generator at 0.82 liters per hour. It is available from Adendorff Machinery Mart for R4,495.

We’ve also included two inverter generators in the comparison, as they might be more appealing to those looking for a quiet backup power solution.

Inverter generators often carry higher price tags. In the case of Mac Afric’s 1800W inverter generator, it also uses more fuel.

Notably, Ryobi’s 1200W inverter generator is more fuel efficient than its 1200W 4-stroke gasoline generator.

The table below shows the expected cost to operate these generators for one year at various phase 2 and phase 4 load shedding amperages. The totals include the purchase cost of each generator.

Generator costs over time
Generator Stage 2 load shedding intensity Total cost (including generator price) Stage 4 load shedding intensity Total cost (including generator price)
Ryobi 1200W 4-Stroke Pull Start Generator 60 days / 180 hours R8,610.60 60 days / 360 hours R13,222.20
120 days / 360 hours R13,222.20 120 days / 720 hours R22,445.40
180 days / 540 hours R17,833.80 180 days / 1080 hours R31,668.60
MAC AFRIC 2.8 kVA (2 KW) Standby Gasoline Generator 60 days / 180 hours R8,028.40 60 days / 360 hours R11,561.80
120 days / 360 hours R11,561.80 120 days / 720 hours R18,628.60
180 days / 540 hours R15,095.20 180 days / 1080 hours R25,695.40
Ryobi 1200W Open Frame Inverter Generator RG-1280I 60 days / 180 hours R8,575.60 60 days / 360 hours R12,152.20
120 days / 360 hours R12,152.20 120 days / 720 hours R19,305.40
180 days / 540 hours R15,728.80 180 days / 1080 hours R26,458.60
MAC AFRIC Inverter Generator (1800W) 60 days / 180 hours R11,559.20 60 days / 360 hours R15,868.40
120 days / 360 hours R15,868.40 120 days / 720 hours R24,486.80
180 days / 540 hours R20,177.60 180 days / 1080 hours R33,105.20

Some generators are relatively cost effective compared to battery backup systems when Eskom’s load shedding intensity is low in Stage 2. Costs including generator price and fuel consumption range from R8,028 at R11,559.

Comparatively, a small backup battery system such as the 1.4kWh RCT Compact Lithium Backup Kit costs around R12,000.

Prices for battery systems vary depending on the type and capacity of the system – for example, Omnipower’s 2kW long life backup power system kit costs around R21,000.

As load shedding intensifies, generators can become significantly more expensive than battery backup.

At 60 days of Stage 4 load shedding, the costs of small generators are equal to or greater than the price of equivalent battery backup systems.

In the worst case, these generators cost between R25,695 and R33,105 to buy and operate for 180 days of phase 4 load shedding.

It is important to note that batteries in back-up systems should be replaced after approximately five years of use.

However, given that the most fuel efficient generator in this comparison may cost around R40,000 to run for five years, at stage 2 of load shedding and including the price of the generator, it is safe to say that the systems battery backups are more expensive. effective over the long term.


Now Read: Eskom Shed Update – Stage 3 or Higher Possible in Cold Front