Trades and homeowners grow generator space

by | Oct 19, 2023

Generators are expected to be in high demand this season, particularly as homeowners in bushfire-prone areas begin to prepare their properties for the predicted warmer summer ahead and ensure their homes have access to power and water pumps should the power be cut during unprecedented events.

Pramac Generac Australia Sales Manager Rod Carrasco says this is why it is crucial to have the ability to cater to several different markets within the generator space. The launch of  Pramac’s new seven-kilowatt inverter is specifically designed to cater to a growing demand for generators in both the trade and homeowner space.

Designed for off-grid applications, the innovative new inverter is also designed for use as a power backup on worksites so trades can continue to run their tools on worksites, as well as charge solar inverter batteries, particularly for homes that remain off-grid. 

Scheduled to go to market at the end of the year, the new generator is expected to attract homeowners who have power to their homes, but require a unit on hand as a power backup during extreme weather events, such as storms or bushfires.

Pramac and Generac are two brands that are already well-known in the industry for a range of products that deliver into several different categories, one being mobile products that operate lighting towers and are heavy-duty generators for hire industry. 

“The second category that we work with is the stand-by application, so this is anything to do with backup generators for commercial use or industrial use. Then we have consumer products which is any generator used for backup for professional use or trade. In terms of stand-by or backup power, we offer products that utilise diesel, gas, and petrol. So we cover a whole spectrum of products for different applications,” Rod said.

With generator designs now moving away from open-frame heavy-duty generators, Rod says consumers are seeking out generators that have updated technologies and can be used for several different applications. 

“For us, there are two things that we consider when we develop a new product. These include the shifting in the market and demand for better technologies. The second aspect to this is introducing better features for the end user, so they can use the product for multiple applications,” he said.

“Inverter generators are quite popular at the moment and there has been a huge shift to these higher power generators. This is also why Pramac released a seven-kilowatt generator that will fill the gap that is coming from consumers who require a certain amount of power on the job site or at home.”

“Most houses now have four bedrooms and air conditioning so a seven-kilowatt generator is the bare minimum to power a house currently in terms of backup power. Any generator from seven kilowatt up is perfect for power backup, including severe weather conditions or bush fire emergencies that we may see in the upcoming season,” Rod said.

Consumers are now showing a substantial interest in ensuring they have the proper backup to run their water pumps if they live on a rural property, and most are investing in a decent generator in preparation for the hot, dry summer ahead.

“Small businesses like doctor’s surgeries and medical centres are purchasing the generators to ensure their vaccines are properly refrigerated during a bushfire, blackout or weather event as well,” he said.

In the industrial and commercial space, Pramac Generac has also recently launched a range of battery energy storage systems (BESS) which has the ability to minimise the use of fossil fuels, cut CO2 emissions, eliminate noise, and save costs for the end product user. 

“While battery storage is currently primarily implemented throughout the industrial space, this trend is expected to trickle down to DIY consumers in the near future,” Rod concluded

Powerful yet peaceful generators on trend 

Portable, home backup generators ranging from four to eight KVA in power are just some of many generators expected to catch the eye of the consumer this season as predictions of a hot, dry summer loom for most of the country.

Macfarlane Generators National Sales Manager, Michael Korsten says homeowners understand that if they live in a bushfire-prone area and a fire starts, one of the first things power companies do is cut the power to that area. 

“This is so that power is not a contributing factor to that fire. This means that those homes that rely on their power to access their water, particularly in country areas, do not have the ability to flush toilets when the power is cut, or even worse, fight fires should their home come under threat.”

“If we do have the hot summer that weather experts are predicting, this can mean power companies will also run with rolling blackouts to reduce demand because the power grid cannot handle extreme demand. This also means certain suburbs might be switched off in certain timeframes to reduce demand,” Michael said.

As a reseller of several brands within the generator space, Michael said that while Macfarlane Generators do not preference brands, its aim is to offer customers a product that suits their specific needs.

“Some of the brands, such as Kompak specialise in the home backup style scenario. We also have more permanent style solutions including the Generac brand of units which are gas powered. There is also MaxWatt with the majority of their products catering to the portable generator market and often suit smaller hardware stores.”

When it comes to keeping up with demand, especially if there is unprecedented storm activity which sees a spike in generator purchases, Michael said that while Macfarlane does prepare for unprecedented demand, the severe storms in Melbourne in 2021 saw the generator supplier run out of stock.

“Every product was gone. We also have a hire area that focuses on the larger machines but they ran out of everything too after the 2021 storms. We keep anywhere from 100 to 150 generators in our showroom and these were all sold out. We re-stocked on the same day and called in all of our staff, including those who were on leave, but we also had a lot of calls from people like Melbourne Water and South East Water as well,” he said.

“When there are events like this, we are pushed in every aspect including stock availability, and staffing. While we always try to carry an excess of stock, in this scenario there is always a limit and the hardware stores you deal with will be in the same boat. They also do not want to put too much stock on the floor because if they only sell one every two months, that is a lot of stock to carry. It is about having the products that are most in demand which are portable units that will have a long run time and that are also quiet.”

“The old generators tend to only have two and half hours of fuel in them. But the home backup type generators that we do now, aim for eight hours of run time or more so people have the equivalent of what we consider to be a full day. So usually a generator is run until 10 pm and then turned off because the fridge will stay cold for six to 10 hours overnight,” Michael said.

This is also why, for now, the biggest sellers are in portable units starting from two KVA and progressing to more powerful units. Consumer demand has since shifted in the last two to three years, with Michael saying once consumers used to survive with just a two KVA to cover their fridge should the power go out, but now they push more towards that four to eight KVA.

“If they have no power, the homeowner also wants to be able to not only have their fridge operating but also the TV, heater and computer. We have become a more electronic-focused world where people cannot live without electricity even for short periods, which is why any generator that is portable will sell in a hardware store,” Michael concluded.