Common Myths about Generators and Install

GENERATOR INSTALL MYTHS

Myth #1: Backup generator installation is only necessary for people who live off the grid or medical facilities that require power for their patients.

Truth: Installing a backup generator is a good idea if you want to ensure you have power during storm season and the cold winter months—times when the power has been known to go out due to high winds, lightening, or icy power lines. These generators can provide power for any family that needs to keep the electricity flowing; whether it’s to keep the food in the freezer from thawing, to keep the family comfortable during extreme temps, or just for convenience.

Myth #2: Backup generators are loud and obnoxious.

Truth: While you may remember the loud, noisy, and sometimes even smelly generators from years ago, the modern versions are not nearly as disruptive. If you use a diesel generator, you may still get some of that odor, but when it comes to noise it’s really not that loud. It’s more of a soft whirring sound than it is a loud motor sound. Your neighbors will likely not even know it’s running…that’s how quiet generators are these days.

Myth #3: You have to deal with a lot of power surges when you run a generator.

Truth: If your only frame of reference for a backup generator was from 30 years ago, you may think the power you get will be unreliable. This can still be true for certain generator models, but you can turn to professional electricians to help you find the right generator to meet your needs. If you need the generator to be consistently reliable, you are sure to find a model that will fit the bill. You can also purchase surge protectors to help with this issue and protect more sensitive electronics like computers and important medical equipment.

Myth #4: It is safe to run a portable generators indoors.

Fact: NEVER run a portable generator indoors. As portable generators operate, they produce significant amounts of carbon monoxide – a colorless, odorless gas that can be toxic in high doses. This gas is harmless when released to the outside, but could be fatal if allowed to accumulate in your home.

Myth #5: Plugging a generator into an electrical outlet is okay.

Fact: Backfeeding is dangerous and illegal. “Backfeeding” is the process of connecting a generator directly to a power outlet. When this is done, electricity flows into the home’s main electrical panel and is distributed throughout the house. It can also send high voltages out of your home and into utility lines, potentially exposing workers to fatal shocks (which you will be held responsible for).

Myth #6: Professional installation isn’t necessary for standby generators.

Fact: DIY generator installation is a bad idea. Standby generators are a permanent alternative to portable devices, and connect directly to your home’s gas line and breaker box. One mishap during the installation process could put your home and family in great danger, so it is best to leave it to the professionals.

Myth # 7: Generator Size Doesn’t Matter

Not all generators are created the same and the size does matter for the amount of power you will be able to receive. You’ll need to consider your power requirements in kilowatts to choose the most effective generator size. In addition to power requirements, you need to factor in the equipment that will be operated with the generators. Equipment that users motors or machines with compressors consume more power and therefore a more powerful generator will be required.

Myth # 8: Generators Don’t Need Regular Maintenance

Like any machine, a little maintenance can go a long way to keep you generator up and running. Some preventative maintenance you can do yourself while a professional technician should handle more technical preventative maintenance. The following are essential components a technician will complete for an industrial generator maintenance service plan:

Start With An Inspection: The service technician will make sure that the area surrounding your generator is kept free of debris, while ensuring sufficient ventilation during operation. Following this, the exhaust system will be inspected, including the manifold, muffler, and exhaust pipe. The service technician will make sure that all connecting gaskets, joints, and welds have been checked for potential leaks. A qualified technician should correct all adverse conditions promptly.

Generator Fuel: Fuel maintenance is another crucial aspect of generator maintenance, especially considering that gasoline and diesel fuel degrade over time. Ideally, the fuel tank should be equipped with a valve, which allows accumulated water to be drained from the tank periodically. A technician can take a fuel sample from the bottom and from the supply line, which should be visually inspected monthly.

Battery Testing: Weak or undercharged starting batteries are the most common cause of standby power system failures. Even when kept fully charged and maintained, lead-acid starting batteries are subject to deterioration overtime and must be periodically replaced when they no longer hold a proper charge. Only a regular schedule of inspection and testing under load can prevent generator-starting problems.  Your Generator’s battery must be tested under load; checking the voltage is an inaccurate method of testing for a battery’s power.

Generator Cooling System: During your routine generator checkup, a technician will make sure the coolant is filled to the proper level. The cooling fluid mix is a balanced solution and will invariably differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, so it’s essential to make sure that the solution you use is approved for use in your engine.

Myth # 9: All Generator Fuel Types Function The Same

When looking to purchase an industrial generator, the fuel type is an important element to consider. You may choose a cheaper fuel but not all fuel types work the same in every environment. For example, in colder environments, gasoline generators may not be the most effective option. Diesel generators are a better choice for colder environments, as this fuel type is less receptive to freezing. Fuel type may also be dependent on your location as some may be easier to obtain than others. When purchasing an industrial generator, it’s important to consider the fuel type to ensure you are getting the most out of your generator.

Myth #10: You Can Install The Generator Anywhere

Location is another overlooked element when installing a generator. The system should be placed in a location that is easily accessible for maintenance and repair. Also, the generator should be placed in a protective location and high enough to keep water from damaging the machine. Indoor installations also need to follow requirements for fuel supply, exhaust ducting, ventilation and proximity to flammable materials. A typical installation requires that the generator be near the transfer switch and fuel supply.

Myth # 11: I don’t Need An Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS)

More often than not, it’s a good idea. 80-90% of generators are coupled with ATSs. The ATS will detect any power outage and automatically start your generator, and will exercise the unit on a weekly basis. It’s extremely important that your emergency power system run at least once a week, under load if possible. Keeping your generator operational is critical in an outage.