A generator is an electrical machine that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy or vice versa, or both, by electromagnetic induction in the armature windings.
Mechanical energy comes normally from an Internal Combustion Engine or IC Engine which burns the fuel and provides motion and rpm. So, normally, a generator can be called an Engine Driven Tool(EDT) as well. (Nowadays, so many drive inputs are available like wind, turbine, solar, etc. So, every generator in the market is not essentially an EDT.)
It is a type of alternator that produces alternating current (AC) power for use as an electric power source in today’s society by spinning a coil wrapped around a rotating ferrite core that has two sets of electrically poled winding placed at right angles to each other and close together on opposite sides which are energized by two external magnetic fields generated from opposite poles on a single magnet. When the rotating electromagnetic field of one pole passes through the magnetic field of the other, winding current is induced in it that induces a changing magnetic flux in the core which changes its direction and flow of magnetic field through the winding coils to generate electrical energy. The changes in flux pulled by the armature rotor induce a voltage in exciting coils (or commutator) that create an alternating magnetic field in it.
The armature has two parts. A stator and a rotor. The stator is mounted on the stationary frame and a rotor is rotating by the engine or other drive sources.. The stator has the north pole of its electric winding facing inwards and the south pole of north-facing winding facing outwards to induce an alternating magnetic field in it. On the other hand, the rotor is not symmetric with respect to its poles so it has a north pole on one side and a south pole on the other. When current flows through the armature, it changes direction to generate electrical energy.
That is a generator and its basic operational process. We can go something deep into it later.
History of the making of Generator
In 1831, Michael Faraday discovered electromagnetic induction and proved that a changing magnetic field generates an electrical current. This discovery brought about an interest in the scientific community to demonstrate how machines could be made to use this phenomenon for practical purposes. Faraday himself constructed a small generator that was used to light up a small bulb. However, there were no commercial uses of the generator at this time; instead, they were toyed with and studied for scientific inspiration in laboratories. It was not until 1888 when Ernst Werner von Siemens discovered that he could induce an electric current into an electrical wire by connecting it to a spinning machine similar to Faraday’s device and using a dynamo as his source of power.
Who invented Generators?
According to Britannica, the first generator was invented by Zénobe-Théophile Gramme, an Italian inventor, electrical engineer, and physicist who began to work on electric devices for energy applications including arc lamps and electric clocks at around 1884-1890. In 1881, Gramme began experimenting with a dynamo (a machine that produces electric power from motion) on the theory that if he could create a flow of current in a wire as the coil was spun, this would generate power. After several failed experiments, he connected two independent coils to a dynamo and discovered that when they were spun at the same rate they produced enough power to light up an arc lamp.
Gramme next built an improved version of the dynamo that was connected to a small spool of wire and this time tested it. On December 23, 1883, he was able to light up the light bulb for almost 15 hours with just 90 amperes (1/10th of a horsepower) flowing through the wire to create his arc lamp. This project won him the first ever prize money in connection with electrical power generation at a ceremony presided over by King Umberto I of Italy at the Royal Palace in Turin on June 26, 1884.
Westinghouse, the Legendary Company of US
The next major step forward in generator development occurred when Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company began experimenting with rotating machines designed to generate electricity from rotational motion in 1890. Westinghouse introduced the first practical application of generators in 1897, when they used a steam engine to power a dynamo and created the first modern alternating current power supply system. Beginning in 1900, Westinghouse began building large engines that were used to drive dynamos and transformers to produce alternating current.
Westinghouse continued to experiment with generators until they incorporated them into their existing AC systems in 1907. These individual generators were used to augment the output of their large systems. By 1920 the company had developed a unique system of double-concentric rotary generators that used a pair of stationary motors with stator coils wound with thin wire as a pair of rotating field coils. One set, located on the outside, wind for 180 degrees in opposite directions and produce AC power that is sent to the inside conical coils which produce three phases AC power for use in Westinghouse systems.
In 1905, Westinghouse built a demonstration set at the Edison Electric Illuminating Company near New York City’s Hudson River to prove that alternating current was safer than direct current.
How do electric generators work?
The generator is based on Faraday’s law of electromagnetic induction, as stated. The way in which it works can be described as follows: when an electric current passes through a conductor, it creates its own magnetic field around it called “magnetic flux”. This flux induces a changing magnetic field in a conductor and depending on the direction of the current and position of the conductor, it causes this induced field to change in one direction or another. When this occurs, it generates an alternating magnetic field in the conductor.
These changes are monitored by an “exciting” coil (called commutator) that is mounted on a rotating shaft known as its rotor. This rotating magnetic field creates a changing electric current which is induced in one side of the winding (the armature). The armature moves forward because it rotates with the shaft while generating power but due to inertia, it also produces its own rotation-generated vertical force that keeps it spinning for longer periods even when it is stationary.
The “excited” rotating field magnetizes the armature, which acts as a conductor. The electromagnetic force from the exciting coil repels the north pole of one side of the armature and attracts it to another pole on the opposite side, generating a changing current in the armature in a similar fashion to that generated in a moving wire. This current flows through an external circuit, producing an electromotive force. This electromotive force is known as “induced voltage” and causes electrons to flow through the external circuit. The alternating magnetic field produced by constant magnetic flux induces an alternating electric current in the rotating field coil which is fed into the external circuit.
The external circuit is connected to the armature with two main circuits: a “field circuit” and an “armature circuit”. The field winding surrounds the armature and is connected to it by brushes, which allow the current to flow through the coils via slip rings. The positive brush is connected to the positive terminal in the external circuit and the negative brush is connected to the negative terminal in this circuit.
The armature winding surrounds the field winding. It is connected to the armature shaft at commutator slip rings via brushes. The brushes are insulated from the slip rings by spring-loaded carbon blocks or oil-filled gaps, and are designed so that they can only conduct current in one direction. The current flows through the armature winding to the terminal connected via wires in the external circuit.
The field winding produces a rotating magnetic field and is induced by a changing electric current which is generated in the armature coil as a result of induced voltage from an external circuit. Flux produced by this changing electrical current induces an electromagnetic force which repels or attracts different poles on the armature winding depending on their direction of rotation, thus creating movement. The commutator acts as a switch and changes the direction of the current flowing in the armature winding according to which poles are attracting or repelling. In this way, the alternating electric currents in the field coil cause the armature winding to rotate. The voltage induced in both windings produces a potential difference between their terminals. This potential difference is used by an external circuit and is known as “induced voltage”.
The armature current is transformed by the circuit into useful power, which is used as energy for running machines or to supply electric lighting. The rotation of the field coil generates an alternating magnetic field in the armature winding, which induces an alternating current(AC) in it via the commutator. This alternating current flows through the external circuit to produce an electromotive force. Since this electromotive force is proportional to the rate of induced armature current, all machines connected to this generator work at their best speed when it is rotating at its fastest rate.
A generator’s efficiency is measured in kW.
So, we can summarize it as, a generator is a machine that converts mechanical energy (usually from a reciprocating, rotating or to-and-fro motion) into electrical energy. It has four main components. They are generator (generate mechanical power), rotor (generate electrical power), stator (convert mechanical energy to electrical energy) and ring commutator (generates alternating current from direct current).
Since the rotation is not continuous and it is controlled by an external circuit, a generator has a very low speed. The period of one rotation through the primary winding is measured in this way. The usual value for generators between 10 kW and 50 kW is from 0.0030 to 0.005 seconds per revolution. The generator output speed is measured in thousand revolutions per second (rpm). Most generators are manufactured to rotate at a certain rate (i.e., RPM), but some applications may require a faster rotation (such as windmills). The number of rpm a generator produces is typically given in the range of 10 to 200,000.
Next to the generators are the shafts or shafts. They contain bearings and bearings contain internal gears with teeth that mesh with each other. You can think of the gears as rotating over an axis and they are put together in such a way that they can rotate just like the shaft itself. As one gear rotates, another gear meshes with it to form an angle called the pitch angle (often seen as 1/n). There are many different gears, but for generator applications, most common are plain old bevel gears (POG), bevel lift gear (BLG), double roller chain drive (DRD) or planetary drives.
Note that once electricity flows into the commutator it will always flow in one direction only unless something reverses it (such as reversing field polarity) which will always have this effect if it is done extremely quickly.
The new generation models of generators are a wonder and a boon actually. They are known for their unique designs and versatile functionality. The new models of generators are significantly less in size and weight than the older ones. There is a new trend these days that almost everyone including homeowners would like to have a generator in their home. The small sizes and portability of the generators make it a perfect choice for all households. In addition, its increasing demand is making these devices available in an affordable price range.
The old traditional generators are not as convenient as the new ones because they were very heavy and big in size. The size of the device was not only making it more difficult to install, but also making it difficult for people to carry them from one place to another place without any difficulty.
What are the different Types of Generators?
There are various types of generators, and each has its own uses and advantages. There is also a wide variety within these types.
A lot of the older generators were belt-driven from a crank or pulley with a motor forming the back end. This motor provided rotation which was then converted to electricity by either an induction generator (i.e., current generator) or a commutator system (or armature circuit). In the old days, these were much more cumbersome in size and weight than today’s units because they required complex crankshafts that were large in size, heavy in weight, difficult to install, and not easy to transport.
These days you will find electric generators built to run on gasoline, propane/natural gas, diesel, and even gasoline and LP combination. They are available in small portable sizes right up to huge industrial sizes. The smaller units can be taken with you on a camping trip or other emergency situations while the larger ones would be more useful to an electric utility service such as an electrical company or a substation.
There are several classifications in the generator domain. Some of the schools classify it technically as Brushed Generators, Brushless Generators, and Inverter Generators. Some other arrayed it on its uses as Home-standby, Back-up or Portable and Industrial Standby. Any generator can be classified in more than one of these classifications.
One of the other classifications is open frame generator and closed frame generator, which is based upon the frame construction type of the body. Plenty of models are available in these two categories.
The other classification is based on its power ratings. A small, portable generator rated from 3 kilowatts (kW) to 7.5 kW is small enough to be carried by one person and can provide electricity for items such as lights, an electric drill and a radio during a short-term loss of commercial power. Larger generators are used for providing electricity during blackouts to entire areas or neighborhoods. These may be several hundred kilowatts (even up to several megawatts) in size and require a diesel engine or propane tank for fuel.
Some classify it on the basis of the fuel used, like diesel generators, Gasoline Generators, Propane Generators, Liquid Propane or Propane Generators and Natural Gas Generators. Dual fuel generators are also there in plenty.
Solar Power Generator is a new avatar in this typifications. It has been called Portable Power Stations also. So, classifying generators is a bit grueling task, as a lot of schools use different parameters to array them. Wind Generators and Solar types are based on the source by which the input drive to rotate the rotor of the armature instead of the Internal Combustion Engines(IC Engines) used in the traditional generators.
Typically, most generators fall into one of these categories:
We can check into some details of some of these.
1. Standby Generators
Standby generators are used to power large appliances and electronics during a power outage. These are typically larger, more efficient units that are used to make sure you have the power you need when your home’s electricity is out for an extended period of time.
These generators are typically found in areas where there is a high amount of risk for power outages, as they require frequent maintenance to ensure they are working properly if needed. Some of the most common places you’ll find large standby generators include large bungalows, hotels, hospitals, theme parks, and office buildings. Typically these generators can run continuously for days without refueling. They are monitoring digitally 24/7/365 on your grid for any of the kind of power outages and when it happens suddenly it gets started and put all the things working properly. Actually, it doesn’t need somebody to tow or crank to start its Engine.
In the US, lots of large houses are also installed with the robust and sturdy stable power generator of this large. It needs to be weatherproofed according to the guidelines. Its power generating capacities can go up to several thousand Kilo Watts(KW).
2. Industrial or Commercial Standby Power Generators
Industrial or Commercial standby generators are a sort of power generating equipment that is utilized for the production of electricity on a really large scale that can be applied for commercial or industrial applications. These are used in situations where the suitable sources of energy to run industrial-sized electrical equipment are not available in the location where they need to be used. This kind of generator is typically referred to as a standby generator, as they can be utilized in case of any kind of power outage.
These generators are used to produce electricity in places where there is plenty of fluctuation in power supply. Commercial power generators are also popularly known as “uninterruptible power supplies” as they have a high probability of working 24/7 even without any kind of human intervention. Industrial generators are usually huge and heavy pieces of equipment that require a considerable amount of mechanical space to be installed within their premises. The backup commercial generation is powered by diesel engines which require refueling at intervals (usually every 6 hours or so).
Some commercial power generators can be run on liquefied petroleum gas sources without having any problems even when the grid goes down due to some other reason.
3. Home Backup Generators or Portable Generators
Portable generators can be called Home Backup generators also. They can be moved from place to place, as their name suggests, but they are typically used for emergencies only. These units are more efficient than standby generators and offer the best of both worlds when it comes to fuel consumption and standby backup power capability. They can run continuously for weeks without having to be refueled. They are very essential and useful during natural calamities or manmade disasters such as war or riots. They are generally noisy, smelly and there is some kind of pollution emitted when they run that’s why they should be kept distant from our home or building premises.
Portable generators are often used by homeowners to power their homes during a loss of electricity. These can also be used for powering large appliances such as freezers, water heaters, sump pumps, and well pumps to ensure that these items don’t run out of power when you need them the most. They are also commonly used by construction companies and municipalities during road construction projects.
Portable generators can be fueled by gasoline, diesel, or propane. Smaller portable units offer great flexibility and convenience in comparison to larger units as they are easy to move around with you if necessary. In recent times, portable generators fitted with an Inverter unit engineered by a computer in it are becoming superstars. These units which are called Inverter Generators have been a lifesaver for people in the past several years. It has helped them to survive in natural calamities, war, or any other unforeseen disasters. Often times it is used to power the emergency lights or exit signs for safety purposes among other things. In general, it is often used by and rated to top by the users especially home users.
In case a grid goes down due to a sudden mishap, then these generators are a boon and help us live our lives like before. They provide all kinds of electrical equipment with power when there is no electricity at all.
3.a. What are Inverter Generators technically?
Inverter generators are also known as inverter generator sets. These are basically a little bit different in their working and specialty from the traditional standby generators. They are much smaller than the conventional standby generators in size and most compact and easily portable. Some are with integrated wheels also.
The technology of converting AC current to DC by a rectifier unit and then invert back to super clean, without ripples pure sine wave AC power output is a technological advancement in recent decades. Though these sophisticated built-in microprocessors and rectifiers made Inverter Generators a bit expensive, it saved the loss of our sensitive electronic devices by the unbalanced current produced by conventional generators. It has low THD or Total Harmonic Distortion which comes under NEC and IEEE suggestions or guidelines.
In short, this provides a much smoother and cleaner current to your expensive household appliances like your TV, refrigerator, computer or laptop, washing machine, oven, and microwave oven.
These inverter generators come with a whole set of safety technologies such as auto-start stop systems (safety switch) and low oil pressure shutoff (electric drain). These features have greatly reduced the possibility of sparking or grillage in the generator and hence protected the engine from any kind of wear and tear.
This has paved the way for Inverter Generators to be installed for the home or office premises without worrying about any safety hazards for sure. etc.
They are fuel-efficient and super quiet also with low noise levels which are near to your conversation. There is no risk of pollution also as they have got low emission levels. Inverter Generators are a boon for the environment as they produce almost no carbon emissions and thus play an important role in global warming mitigation.
Now we can put some light on some other classifications of generators, as well.
4. Gasoline Generators
A gasoline generator is a device that produces electricity from a hydrocarbon fuel source. They are mainly used in the event of an emergency when there is a power outage. Some of the heavy gasoline generators will start automatically if it senses that there is an electrical load on the system. There are many different types of gas generators depending on their features and needs. Gasoline generators are often used for large jobsites or construction sites where electricity may not be available.
5. Propane Generators
Today, more and more people are using propane generators. Propane is a relatively cheap source of power and it is safe as well. Propane generators are similar to gasoline generators in many ways but they run on LP gas instead of gasoline. The major advantage of using propane generators over gasoline ones is that they have a better efficiency rating and low emission levels. Propane generators are very portable and you can take them anywhere you want if you have a bigger one that is.
6. Diesel Generators
Diesel generators are the most efficient type of generator used in industrial applications. They are more expensive than gasoline generators, but they generate more power, and will run longer without overheating and consuming fuel. These generators can be used in remote areas where there is no power source or during the winter when natural gas lines are frozen. If there’s any loss of power in your home; using a diesel generator will provide instant relief to your appliances because these have plugs that allow them to be connected directly to wall outlets.
Diesel Generators work by burning diesel fuel through an internal combustion engine. Some of the latest engines allow you to adjust the RPM’s while running to generate power at a lower speed thanks to sophisticated electronics.
7. Natural Gas Generators
Natural gas generators are a great option for home backup power but they can be a little expensive. These generators have a fuel tank instead of using gasoline or propane which makes them portable. These generators are very easy to start because they have an electric starter. In most cases, you just need to push a button and the generator will start working immediately. Natural gas generators are perfect for regular use because these run on natural gas which is cheaper than gasoline or propane and it doesn’t lead to unnecessary pollution.
It is a eco-friendlier power machine rather than the others.
#DC Generators – These generators work off AC voltage which is converted to DC by a rectifier unit and then used to power different appliances using AC current such as TVs, computers, microwaves etc. These are common in airplanes and motor homes mostly.
8. Dual-Fuel Generators
Dual-fuel generators are one of the options as they can be used with both gasoline and natural gas. These are also suitable for use in remote areas as they don’t require any external power supply to start up. They have a tank which can be filled with just about any fuel but in case of an emergency, the generator will automatically shut-off and switch over to using natural gas only.
9. Wind Generators
Wind generators are becoming more and more popular because of the increasing awareness regarding global warming and climate change. Wind generators require wind to operate so you will need to find a place where there is a lot of wind. Most homes don’t have enough wind to run a small machine, but if your home is located in an area with a lot of winds like in the northern part, then you should consider this option. The important thing you need to keep in mind is that you need a minimum wind speed of 10 mph for your generator to start working.
Many companies manufacture these machines for residential use which can be used during power outages or emergencies as well.
Wind generators are devices that use wind energy to create clean electricity. Wind turbines are most commonly found in rural locations. Wind turbines have started to become common in homes, especially those on the coasts where there is a steady supply of wind. Wind generators are best used during power outages or as a backup source to natural gas or electricity when power is lost due to stormy weather conditions.
10. Solar Generators or Portable power Stations
Now, this is the latest technology bringing a convenient and reliable source of power to homes and small offices. Relatively cheap and easy to install, solar generators are an excellent source of alternative energy in locations where there is no electricity or natural gas source available. Solar generators can be used during power outages but it’s better to use them as a regular source of power. They are called Portable Power Stations as well.
If you are looking for solar generators for sale in the market, you will find that there are many different brands with slightly different features. Just keep these things in mind:
- The more Watts, the better.
- The size of the solar panels.
- Alkaline batteries tend to be better than the nickel cadmium ones as they have a higher life span.
- It is best to use an inverter with it as these will help in converting DC power to AC so that your appliances and TV’s can run successfully.
- The life span of the battery is also very important. It is very difficult to find a solar generator for sale with a good-sized battery. So, try to find one with a large capacity so that you can run many appliances simultaneously.
There are many types of solar generators for sale in the market but they vary greatly in price and features.
11. Open Frame Generators
Open frame generators are portable and compact. This type of generator is available in many different models and formats, each one designed for a particular application. Open frame generators are commonly used for construction sites and for other industrial applications, but can also be used at home as emergency backup power. Their body construction is more open like engine and generator parts are more visible. They are usually made with metal, but some models have a plastic shell.
12. Closed Frame Generators
The closed frame generators or Enclosed frame generators provide continuous power as well as a temporary power supply if the primary source fails. This type of generator is ideal for home and camping applications. These generators are made with an enclosed steel case to ensure optimal protection from weather conditions and outdoor elements that may damage the device. Some enclosed frame generators provide fuel efficiency, while others emit less noise during operation than open frame generators do. However, enclosed frame generators are the most expensive kind of portable generator available.
One of the main benefits of enclosed frame generators is their ability to decrease motor wear significantly by making sure that there is no physical contact between moving parts and any external objects like grass or rocks during transportation or installation.
13. Truck Mounted Generators
Truck-mounted generators are used in emergency situations to provide emergency power. Truck-mounted generators are usually powered by gasoline and usually have a high-capacity battery, which makes them more practical as an emergency power supply. Truck-mounted generators are available as fixed or mobile units that can be either permanently installed in the truck’s cab or be moved using the truck. Portable truck-mounted generators come in many models with different capacities and output ranges. Most of them are capable of running on diesel fuel and will give you up to twice the energy for your dollar over other options like an open frame or closed frame generator.
These are some of the major types of Generators. Still, there are a lot of other newer classifications like small inverter generators, smallest inverter generators etc.
There are many power generators available in the market from big players like Westinghouse, Wen, Generac, Honda, Yamaha, Champion, Pulsar, Bluetti, Ecoflow, etc.
They all have some pros and cons; you need to make a wise decision before buying a generator for your home or office.
What is Total Harmonic Distortion or THD in Generators?
Total Harmonic Distortion is the amount of power that is lost due to harmonics. As the name suggests, it is the difference between the exact sine wave and an output with harmonics.
Generators with lower Total Harmonic Distortion are more ideal for use in sensitive electronics like your PC, Laptops, TV, Mobile phones, amplifiers as higher levels of distortion can cause damage to these devices or reduce their lifespan. A lower THD also means less noise and the ability to run more equipment at the same time. Now a days low THD generators are available in abundance.
IEEE and NEC have certain suggestions over THD. Ideally a low THD of less than 3% is the best. Now in recent times almost all our systems are sensitive electronics. If THD is high like in the traditional ones, it can harm all your priced smart companions.
Almost all the Inverter Generators are having their technology to lower its THD.
A serious health concern which can be created by generators is Carbon Monoxide poisoning. We can have a look upon it.
CO poisoning by generators poses a serious, sometimes deadly, risk for people. There is no known antidote to CO poisoning and the only way of treating it is through removal from exposure. A main concern with generators is that they produce large amounts of CO gas when used indoors. This poses a health hazard to people in their homes.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has come up with ways using which we can prevent or minimize the impact of CO by generators in homes. These include:
- Placing generators outside away from windows and air intakes
- Generators should always be placed on level ground so that oil pools do not form when it’s tilted.
- Never use a generator for more than 3 hours at a time o Always place generators so that exhaust fumes do not enter a house and only a slight extension of the exhaust pipe is used
- Make sure that gas appliances are shut down in the house while the generator is being used
- Keep the doors of your house closed while running a generator.
- Never turn on indoor fuel-burning appliances when using a generator
- Run an extension cord from the outside into your home for your CO detector which can alert you in case of high CO levels in your home
- Generators should be regularly maintained at least every 30 days to ensure they are able to operate correctly, especially with respect to oil levels.
What are the Benefits of Electric Generators?
Do you know an outage is looming? With your new electric generator, you can power up in preparation. You can also power tools, appliances or even the whole house if needed. Keep your home cool during the summer with a backup system for air conditioning. Generators also work great for power tools that require electricity. Running a generator will give your appliances a boost in time of need. It’s best to use the appropriate generator for the job.
Having a backup generator can be a lifesaver if the lights go out unexpectedly. Generators also work great if you plan to be away from power lines in the forest for trekking, camping, or for your cookouts.
If your home loses power, a backup generator will keep everything running without interruption. That means no worries about spoiled food, the loss of lifesaving drugs in the refrigerator, interruption of oxygen to our old ailing parents or an uncomfortable temperature, especially in hotter months. Your RV’s and boat expeditions are also will get well-served by these smart power companions.
In short, some of the major benefits of generator usage are: –
- Home Backup Power.
- Light Your Home During Low Power Events
- Keep Warm in Cold Temps
- Keep Cool in Heat
- Have running Water
- Keep Your Food Cold
- Keep Your Phone & Electronics Charged & Computers Running
- Keeping your medicine safe
Practical Application of Generators
Generators can save power in several instances: if the power grid is stressed in an area with too much electricity usage; when it’s needed during emergencies such as storms, hurricanes or floods; or when there are emergency repairs to the main power grids. If any of these circumstances occur, generators are not only used for providing power to our homes but also for powering a myriad of other devices and appliances around us.
How will you transfer the power from large generators?
Using Automatic Transfer Switch or ATS. The Automatic transfer switches are used to automatically transfer load from the protected supply to the generator in a very short time so the user doesn’t have to manually connect and disconnect the equipment. They are most commonly utilized as a part of large Standby or commercial power distribution systems.
Once the generator is running and is interfacing correctly with the ATS, it will start to power some of your home appliances using the proper cable.
How will you care your Generators?
Large generators are expensive and they need to be cared for properly to ensure they last as long as possible. Proper maintenance and correct operation can help them last much longer than otherwise. Maintenance is also important to ensure that the generator is running at its full capacity. A properly maintained generator can give you the power you need when you need it.
Generators require regular maintenance to keep them in top operating condition and to ensure their longevity:
By following these simple steps, you can help prolong your generator’s lifespan, save money on repairs, and minimize frustration when power outages occur.
With proper care, your generator will give you years of service — and maybe it will even start on the first try when you need it most.
Basic Generator Maintenance Tips:
- Applying Protective Conduit Materials Over Generators for Safety Purposes: A protective conduit system can be applied around the generator to minimize the effect of lightning strikes and power surges from damaging your generator.
- Using an External Grounding Device: An external grounding connection will help maintain the safe electrical operating levels when a generator is running. GFCI protection is used to avoid electrical shock and fire hazards.
- Frequent Oil Analysis: Make it a habit to have the oil analyzed periodically so you can stay ahead of any problems.
- Maintaining the Discharge Air Filter: Check and clean the discharge air filter regularly for optimal filtration.
- Cleaning the Fuel Filter: It’s best to inspect the fuel filter at least once a month and clean it if needed, especially if you have run your generator in extreme temperatures or high humidity.
- Using Insulated Conduit for Electrical Connections: The use of an insulated conduit and cable from the generator to the battery bank is essential when there is a potential for high stresses on the generator.
- Visually Inspecting the Start-up Components: The start-up components must be visually inspected after every time it runs to ensure that they are operating properly and that there are no excessive oil deposits or corrosion on the components.
- Checking Battery Voltages: Depending on its model, your generator will have a battery voltage check button on its panel to help detect if there is a charging issue with your batteries.
Safety Precautions for Generators
These are some of the precautions you should take when using generators: –
- Always keep your generator out of the reach of children. The noise may frighten them and they could potentially get hurt or electrocuted if they touch the moving parts.
- Take extra precautions when buying a new generator to make it more secure and avoid theft. Make sure you install a sturdy lock on the generator to protect it from theft. A thief would rarely look for a secure lock with no key since it would entail some work to break in. You can also install an alarm system that will send a signal to your phone so you will know immediately if someone is tampering with your security system.
- Keep your generator dry. Water will damage its internal mechanisms and make it hard for the generator to start.
- Having a transfer switch installed is a good idea if you want to connect the generator’s power source directly to your home. This will prevent tripping circuit breakers and reduce fire hazards.
- Do not operate a generator indoors or within an enclosed structure such as a garage, shed, or building. Carbon monoxide gas produced from running generators can be dangerous. Generators create carbon monoxide gas through incomplete combustion of fuel, which is ignited by their spark plugs. Carbon monoxide can be deadly in high concentrations so make sure you are not exposed to deadly concentrations of this gas while running a generator at home or in a closed space. It is best to run a generator outdoors in an open area to avoid this type of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- If you must use a generator indoors, install a Carbon Monoxide (CO) detector.
- Avoid running your generator in a garage or shed where carbon monoxide can build up. You should turn off any forced-air heating or cooling system to eliminate the possibility of the gas venting inside the house before operating your generator in an open garage or shed. If you have an attached structure, close off vents and doors between it and your home to prevent carbon monoxide from entering living areas.
- Do NOT leave a running generator unattended. Always have someone nearby to shut it off if needed. If your generator will stay outdoors, have someone watch over it while you are not present in case of any problems. Make sure the fuel supply line stays clear from leaves and debris so that it does not freeze or become blocked by these items.
- Do NOT run a generator indoors in agriculture or greenhouses. It is illegal to do so without a proper permit from your local fire department. If you are in doubt as to whether you need a permit, contact the appropriate fire department.
- Before starting your generator, make sure that the fuel tank is full and/or have the fuel flow restricted at least 10% in order for the engine to have enough smooth-running time to start up fully.
- Follow all instructions provided with your generator and read the safety manual before using it.
- Make sure you understand how to use your generator and put it to use in an efficient way so that it does not overheat or overload your power system.
- Use portable generators safely by keeping them away from flammable items, such as patio furniture or other parts of your home or business in case a spark ignites them.
- Generators are designed to start easily at any time. If you have a difficulty starting your generator, consult the owner’s manual for troubleshooting procedures and maintenance tips.
- Never overload a generator. The generator should not exceed its maximum rated wattage and should be used according to its instructions.
- If you notice that the generator starts to surge, it is a sign that it has overheated due to an excessive combustion process and may overheat or burn out if left unattended at this point.
- Make sure your generator is in good physical condition and ready to use before running it as another failure could result in a fire or explosion of some kind. It is important to take care of your generator by inspecting all parts including the internal components (such as the engine and drive train), engine clamps, belt drives, fan blades, oil, air filter/regulator caps for leaks etc.
Know your Generator Limits as well
You must know that your generators have certain limitations also. Some of them are here:-
- Excessive usage of Generators can potentially cause a brown out or shut down.
- Generators are perfect for one-time events like a camping trip, but if you plan on using it on a regular basis, contact an electrician to have an additional circuit installed in your home.
- You should always have an Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS) installed during emergency circumstances so that the generator can kick in with minimal work and you will still be protected from shock and fire hazards.
- Without proper maintenance and care, generators may stop working at some point due to normal wear and tear. You should have an inspection performed at least annually to make sure that the parts are working and the generator is in good working condition.
- If you are operating a portable generator outdoors, make sure that it is not running at ground level where it could be damaged by falling branches or rocks during bad weather conditions.
- Be extremely careful when running a generator outdoors or in an open area because of the Carbon monoxide gas produced from incomplete combustion of fuel.
- Generators have limited hours of power use per year, so do not exceed these limits without performing maintenance on your generator such as oil changes or spark plug replacements.
- Be mindful of your generator’s noise level. Most generators are very loud with a raspy noise that can be annoying. They are designed to produce just this unique sound that makes them more noticeable to possible thieves.
- When you are outside running the generator to cool off your home, be aware of and avoid nearby power lines.
- Finally, always ensure that your generator is properly stored and covered to keep it in good condition during the off-season.
How to Choose a Portable Generator in detail?
Purchasing a portable generator can be one of the most important decisions you will make if you want to have a backup power source at home or in the event of an emergency. Here are some things you should consider when purchasing this important piece of equipment for your home or business:
- Size and Weight: The size and weight of the generator will help determine how portable it is. You must determine what size and weight are most appropriate for your needs before making your purchase.
- Gasoline-powered vs. Propane-powered: Decide which fuel type is best for you before making your purchase.
- Engine Power: Before making a purchase, decide how many kilowatts (kW) of power you will need to produce, the frequency of usage and cost factors.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: Make sure that the size and capacity of your fuel tank is appropriate for the amount of power that you need to produce and that it will keep enough fuel on hand to run the generator for the time periods that you intend to use it.
- Start-up Time: The time needed by a portable generator to start up after being turned off depends on the model. Some generators come with a nifty electronic fuel pump that can minimize the start-up time.
- Protection from weather and vandalism: Pick a generator that is protected from weather and vandalism. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s warranty for any additional coverage offered.
- Maintenance and repair: Since portable generators are not powered by a centralized electrical system, many will require periodic maintenance, such as oil changes or spark plug replacements, just like vehicles or other devices powered by gasoline or propane fuel systems.
- Fuel consumption: Depending on how much power you need to produce, and the frequency of usage, you may have to refill the generator’s fuel tanks several times during any given period. Read manufacturer’s specifications for the most accurate information regarding the type and amount of fuel required.
- Noise level: Portable generators may produce noise levels of up to 95 decibels (dB). If you plan on using it in your garage or near your home, make sure that it operates quietly enough not to wake up neighbors or family members while they sleep.
- Expected life span: All portable generators should have a “Service Life Expectancy” on the engine and/or fuel tank. This should be included in the product specifications.
- After-sales service: Be sure to check if your new generator has an after-sales service center that will be available to service the unit for you in case of problems or breakdowns during operation.
- Warranties: Make sure that your portable generator is covered by a manufacturer’s warranty that covers defects in materials and workmanship at normal usage conditions for the period of time specified in the warranty.
Tips for safe Generator use
- Make sure you have an appropriate level of protection for your home; generators could be prone to fire as they operate at high temperatures. Make sure the area where your generator will stay is properly cleared and is at least 10 feet away from nearby combustible objects.
- Generators are not meant to run for prolonged periods of time. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how long the unit can safely run without being shut off.
- Do not run a generator inside a home or building; it could create carbon monoxide gas that is toxic and can be deadly in high concentrations.
- Make sure to keep your generator well maintained to avoid any unplanned use which could override its protective features, especially if used in an area where carbon monoxide gas buildup or poisoning can occur.
- Do not overload the generator by plugging in extension cords or other devices that are not intended for the generation system because this will overload the batteries and components and therefore cause the unit to overheat, overstretch belts, blow fuses, blow out circuits or burn out components.
- Keep a record of the serial number and make sure to inventory and store this number in case of any needed repairs or for any future use.
- If your generator is not being used for an extended period, make sure it is stored in a safe location that is free from moisture and dust because this could create damage to the internal components over time, like cat’s teeth or rusting.
The generator is a part of our life. So, we must know it better. We have tried our best to make it simple. Some areas might be clumsy and more technical. Sorry for that.
Every generator has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, but it’s important to know how to navigate the many features and options available so you can make the best purchase decision based on your needs. If you are considering a portable generator for emergency use at home in case of power outages or storms, make sure that it offers a reliable source without compromising safety in the process and is more eco-friendlier as well..
Please keep commenting on this article.
Thank you & Take Care.