Getting the best out of your diesel generator

Diesel generator sets are always the preferred source of energy for backup electrical power. Thanks to their low cost, speedy installation and simplicity; they remain the mainstay for electrical power for many consumers around the world, where grid supplies are normally unreliable.

According to Mr. Andrew Pigott of FGW Generators, diesel generators are one of the most flexible and immediate source of power that can be purchased. They can be used in a variety of different applications and load requirements. “While other power generation technologies are developing, in my opinion, the diesel genset is still number one by a long stretch,” he said.

Mr. Cammarata of Maverick Generators reiterates this point by adding that, with a diesel generator, the consumer has a once off purchase price with the only other expenditure going to fuel and maintenance which can be significantly minimized. “With rising costs of fuel, it is necessary to bring consumption down and with a diesel generator you have a back-up or prime power system that can run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, irrespective of the grid situation,” he said.

However, quite often a diesel generator won’t start when it’s needed, due to improper routine inspection and regular preventative maintenance; resulting in paralyzed productivity and lost revenue. According to Mr. Carlos Martinez of ERGA gensets, routine maintenance and use of genuine spare parts is the key to getting the best out of your diesel generator. “Although finding genuine parts is a challenge, consumers should be sure of the original source of such parts to manage this challenge,” added Mr. Martinez.

Mr. Deniz Saglam Marketing Communications Manager at Teksan Generators echoes his sentiments by adding that, diesel generator maintenance and technical support is important so as to maintain maximum availability throughout their lifetime. “Flexibility is important in order to fit your needs, and find the best solutions for delivering peak performance,” he said.

Starter battery inspection

A load tester on the starter battery is very important to gauge the output levels. A used-up battery will continually put out lower and lower levels, which is an indication that it is time for a replacement. In a case that a professional is hired to service any problems detected by your routine inspection, it is advisable to check the unit after they are done. Normally, the battery charger needs to be disconnected before service, and the repair professionals may forget to hook it back up before they leave. The indicator on the battery charger should read ‘OK’ at all times.

Build-up of sulphate on the terminals and leads of the battery

Standard procedure on battery replacement is usually every three years. The battery can no longer generate enough current for an electrical charge once the sulphate build-up has reached a certain level, and will need to be replaced. The connections should be tightened and cleaned to ensure a strong current flow, since loose or dirty cable connections can also cause a battery to fail or perform poorly. Terminal grease is highly recommended for cleaning to avoid sulphate build-up. However it is also advisable to check with the manufacturer of your generator for their recommendations.

Check the fluids to ensure optimum levels

Oil level and oil pressure are just as crucial as the fuel level, the fuel line, and the coolant level. If the generator usually exhibits low levels of any fluid, coolant; there is a high chance of an internal leak somewhere in the unit. Some fluid leaks can be attributed to running the unit at a load that is considerably lower than the output level it is rated for. Diesel generators should be run at a minimum of 70% to 80%; when they are run at a low load the unit can over-fuel, which causes ‘wet stacking’ and leaks known as ‘engine slobber’.

Lubrication levels inspection

Be sure to check the oil level before you start the generator, when you run the unit every month for 30 minutes. It is important to remember that you have to wait for about 10 minutes after you switch the unit off for the oil to drain back down to the sump, if you do the run when the engine has been running. Generators vary depending on the manufacturer, but it is highly advisable to change the oil and the filter every six months regardless of the manufacturer.

Also Read: Top 10 generator manufacturers in the world

 Condition of the fuel inspection

Contaminants in the fuel system can lead to the degradation of diesel fuel over time. If the degraded fuel stagnates in the engine tank, the generator will become inefficient. It is highly advisable to move old fuel through the system and to keep all moving parts lubricated by running the unit for 30 minutes a month with at least one-third the rated load. Ensure the generator does not run out of fuel or even run low.

Some units have a low fuel shutdown feature, however if yours does not or if this feature fails, the fuel system will draw air into the fuel lines leaving you with a difficult and expensive repair job on your hands. The fuel filters should be changed out for every 250 hours of use or once a year depending on how clean your fuel is based on your environment and the overall condition of the unit.

Engine abnormalities inspection

A brief weekly run on the genset is highly advisable to listen for rattles, and whining. Tighten them down if it is knocking about on its mounts.  Check for unusual usage of fuel and amounts of exhaust gas, while at the same time checking for oil and water leaks.

Cooling system inspection 

Inspecting the anti-freeze, water, coolant ratio according to your climate and the manufacturer specifications; recommended for your particular generator model, is highly advisable. Moreover, one can improve the air flow by cleaning off the radiator fins with a low-set air compressor.

Also Read: 7 steps to proper maintenance of a diesel generator

Exhaust system inspection

In case there are leaks along the exhaust line which usually occurs at the connection points, the welds and the gaskets; they should be repaired immediately by a qualified technician. Josephine Galarzo of INMESOL mentions that, it may be difficult to find competent and qualified technical service providers for the necessary repairs and also providers of spare parts and consumables. “However, the consumer should follow the regular maintenance programs presented by the manufacturer; following the indications in the manual as well as indications programmed into the gen set controllers,” she said.

However, According to Mr. Daniell Bester of Continental Generators, there are ample parts available for diesel engines hence the maintenance costs are much lower.

 

Moreover, Miss. Marlene Jansen van Vuuren, Marketing Manager PacB Generators advises that, clients must always be advised by reputable manufacturers who are well established within the market. Often people are tempted by the lower price but neglect to take into account the aspect of quality and availability of spare parts. “Always trust a manufacturer who is willing to explain the different components to you, such as the difference between prime power and standby power,” she said.

Additionally, Mr. Rahul Roy, DGM Marketing at Cooper Corporation reiterates that consumers should buy quality products with good industry reputation and buy from companies which can support their products for long term. “Cheap unreliable products will definitely cost more in the long run,” he said.

Most importantly, Craig M. Grason Vice President Sales at Gentel Power recapitulates that, maintaining the oil life, filters changed every 250 hours, battery inspected each month, load testing the genset once a year at a full load for 2 hours, and keeping the diesel fuel clean by adding an additive that will guard it from getting algae, and sludge in the in fuel system are very important.

“Adding the additive will prevent the fuel system from clogging up the fuel injection pump.  Add a NG/LP system to the genset to burn NG into the intake of the engine than burn less diesel fuel or bio-fuel system or hydrogen system. By adding this system to the engine, it will burn less diesel fuel, leading to less pollution of the environment,” he said.

Consumers need to know how much power they will need, and their Amp Load or Main Breaker for the whole building they want to power up. “Do not undersize a generator for the building, rather oversize the genset 20% more for future growth of the building,” he affirmed.

 

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