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Generator Maintenance is important!
Mobile generators are a critical source of temporary power during power outages caused by natural disasters, or in areas where utility power is not available. They can range from 1800 watts which can power only a couple receptacles, to over 2.5 megawatts which can power a large commercial building. Smaller generators can be carried by hand, while larger ones are on trailers that can be pulled by a standard car or truck. The largest generators are mounted inside a 50’ cargo trailer attached to an 18 wheeler. The fuel source for most generators is either diesel, natural gas, liquid propane or wellhead gas.
Even the smallest mobile generators are a significant investment and cost several hundred dollars. The prices rise dramatically with the size, with the largest ones costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Proper use and maintenance will prevent costly repairs and provide a safe and reliable generator for years.
Generator Maintenance Basics
Like any other combustion engine, generators have rotating parts that must be lubricated and kept clean from contaminates in the air, and carbon build up typical of internal combustion engines. Unlike a car, which requires maintenance based on mileage, generator maintenance is based on the number of hours the generator has been running. A quality generator from a reputable manufacturer like Generac will have an hour meter that lets you know the total hours the generator has been running. During the initial break in period, which is about 100 hours, it is important to check the fluid levels including the oil, coolant, air and oil filters to make sure they are working properly. It is also important to check the visible components of the generator like the tire pressure, radiator fins and electrical connections. It is important to find any defects in these areas since the generator will typically still be under warranty if it has less than 100 hours. A basic maintenance schedule should be included with the operating manual of any new generator you purchase. If purchasing a used generator, be sure to replace the oil, air and oil filters before running it for the first time, and consistently change the oil and all filters every 500 hours, or twelve months afterwards.
State and Federal Maintenance Standards
Facilities such as hospitals, clinics and nursing homes are required to show back up generators have been maintained according to the National Fire Protection Association standards. Specifically, NFPA 110, which is the Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems, has requirements to meet the minimum federal guidelines. States also have specific guidelines that can vary from state to state, so be sure to check your local codes. Proper documentation is part of the requirements, so be sure to keep a proper maintenance log. An example of one of these logs can be found on page 34 of the NFPA 110 2019 edition. Access is free as long as you sign up with an e-mail address and password.
Kits for Maintaining Mobile Generators
Generac has generator maintenance kits made specifically for certain size generators. The kits include oil, air filter, replacement spark plugs, rags and a funnel. These kits take the guess work out of basic generator maintenance and come in convenient packages. To know which kit to order, you’ll need to know the size of the generator, the year it was made as well as the series. If you need help choosing the right maintenance kit, authorized Generac distributors like ATI Electrical Supply can help you.