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Electrical Supply Issues for Australian Farmers and How Generators Can Help

by Nick Coulson

Electrical reliability for the agricultural industry is paramount to the success of our Australian farms. Whilst it’s something the majority of us have come to rely on every day, electricity is one of the most important elements of energy self-sufficiency; but Australian farmers are still running into big problems.

Electricity is an essential component of all production processes for farming industries. For the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, its irreplaceable prominence is often very underrated – until you’ve experienced firsthand its catastrophic effects. The issues surrounding electrical reliability for Australian farmers have been ongoing for years and unless farmers have invested in a backup supply solution or looked into longer term options like renewable energy, a lot of money can be lost and downtime significantly increased.  


Poor Power Quality

Poor power quality is one of the biggest issues Australian farmers experience. The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) defines power quality as: “The concept of powering and grounding electronic equipment in a manner that is suitable to the operation of that equipment and compatible with the premise wiring system and other connected equipment.” For the power quality on farms to be running smoothly, it’s vital that the power and equipment are compatible for each other.

The three major factors which contribute to power quality issues on farms are the use of sensitive electronic loads; the proximity of disturbance-producing equipment such as welders, furnaces and other higher power loads; and source of supply. Due to the increasing energy costs, power related reliability issues and price volatility, the source of supply can be a big problem for Australian farmers. And as compatibility problems become more complex with the introduction of new energy sources and programs, renewable energy and backup power supplies have become more paramount for the future of farm power.


High Number of Outages and Voltage Drops

Power that is unreliable – whether due to power quality or outside factors, will have a high number of power outages and voltage drops. There are a number of causes that can trigger power outages.

Outside factors like lightning or animal caused outages (wild animals chewing through cables for example) can lead to power quality problems and voltage drops. Australian farms have experienced an extreme number of power outages and drops in quality and, according to various studies, a large number of these outages were due to some of the equipment the famers have been using. Because of the high powered and sensitive machinery farms rely on, it’s paramount Australian farmers invest in a reliable backup power option like diesel generators. Installing self-priming pumps and voltage relays can help to minimise damage to agricultural equipment from power outages and brownouts too, according to NSW Famers General Manage Research and Development, David Eyre.


Unable to Power Intensive Equipment

Poor power quality and a high number of outages mean that many farmers struggle to power intensive equipment which is essential to the survival of their farms. To combat these issues, farmers have adapted by using power intensive equipment such as welders during the times of the day when outages are less likely to occur. Whilst this can be a pain for many farming operations, the use of power backup through generators and renewable energy has become a smart investment to keep essential equipment running smoothly.


Costs of Power Failures

Poor power quality can cause significant costs across all major faming sectors. Damage to equipment after outages and browns present the biggest problem for farmers, reaching up to an estimated average of $3,000 per year. Other key areas where the cost of power failures impacts farmers is the expenses associated with operating backup electrical equipment, loss of livestock or produce, costs to bring farms back to normal operation after downtime and problems with failure of electric fences.

The hidden costs of poor power quality and the financial impact it has on Australian farms is often highly underestimated. And the costs of fixing the power quality issue or reducing further problems can vary from inexpensive (checking for lose wiring connections first) to the pricier options such as installing a large uninterruptible power supply (UPS).


Boosting Power Reliability with Generators

Backup power solutions like diesel generators can be very effective for boosting the reliability of electricity supply. Due to the high demand of power on farms for successful operation, agricultural industries are especially vulnerable during power outages. Having a consistent supply of power is necessary – but farmers can’t always count on major electricity networks because of their needs and rural locations.

Standby diesel generators are designed to use for backup or emergency situation to keep farm equipment powered smoothly. If power reliability has been a big issue in the past, smaller portable generators may be required too for energy and lighting needs during shorter outages.  


The Future of Australian Farms: Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

Through the use of backup generators and renewable energy alternatives, the farming industries are more likely to have a consistent supply of electricity. Solar energy, wind energy, green power, solar panels and pumping, hybrid systems and generators all provide an effective avenue for the future of Australian farms to distribute a reliable source of electricity.

If you want to find the right backup generators for your farm, our team is on hand to help. Browse the products on our site for details on specifications, or call us on 1300 793 001 to speak with one of our friendly staff today.


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