As equipment gets older, the potential for parts failures increases. The older the generator the more difficult it may be to source replacement parts. Some manufacturers go out of business. Some manufactures will only continue to produce spare parts for a period of time. When their parts inventory is exhausted it may be impossible to repair the unit. Or, retrofitting the equipment may not be worth the expense.
Reliability, Repairs and Maintenance
Emergency generators are installed for very good reasons, to back up critical electrical needs. If proper maintenance is being performed and failures are popping up regularly the confidence in the equipment to operate when needed erodes. The more critical the need, the more reliable the emergency generator needs to be.
The costs associated with repairs and the risk of unreliable equipment will ultimately outweigh the price of a new generator system.
Older generators should also receive a regular load bank test to insure the integrity of the entire system to carry its name plated load. As equipment ages or facility upgrades are made that could reduce the operating characteristics of the equipment the generator may not be able to handle its intended load.
Increased Capacity Needs-
As buildings age new equipment may be installed. This new equipment may require increased demands on the generator system. Any time loads are added to a building that needs to be backed via the emergency generator; a load study should be completed to insure that the generator can continue to operate as intended. If the load study shows the existing generator can handle the additional load you can be assured that your generator is capable of doing its job when you need it. If not you will either need to shed other loads or consider a larger generator system.
Increased need for operational knowledge-
Modern generators and electrical switchgear have abilities to communicate their status. In critical applications remote monitoring and control may become desirable. Many modern generators also have the ability to tie into building management systems giving facility managers much better data about their equipment.
Engine exhaust and noise emissions may become critical for an application. This could result from local code requirement enforcement to providing a better operating environment to the people that are situated close to an operating generator.
Modern engines emit significantly lower exhaust emissions than their predecessors. A desire to reduce exhaust emissions can be derived for many reasons including changing local requirements, EPA regulations limiting run time and a company’s desire to be identified as a “green” company.
Noise is also considered an undesirable effect from operating a generator. Modern enclosure designs can significantly reduce noise levels.
In the case of diesel generators fuel storage can be an issue. Diesel fuel can deteriorate over time and cause performance issues with engines.
Diesel fuel storage can also be influenced by local regulations or the local Fire Marshall. In some cases it may be desired to extend the potential run time of the generator in the event that long power outages may occur. Local requirements may limit the amount of diesel fuel that can be stored on site.
In recent years natural gas fueled or Bi-Fueled (operates on a combination of diesel and natural gas) generators in larger size ranges have become commercially viable. A desire to move to natural gas can be a motivation.
Long Term Budgets
Replacing a generator can be expensive. As part of a long term capital improvement project the generator system can be replaced as budgets may allow.
In almost all cases a capital investment in a generator system can last for many, many years. As time and requirements take a toll on existing equipment it may make sense to modernize the emergency generator system. In critical applications it is imperative to insure a well-functioning backup solution that can be managed as appropriate by the facilities management team. Sometimes it makes sense to look at replacing old equipment.
Clifford Power is an Authorized Generac® Industrial Power Dealer
Generac means innovation whether you’re considering, specifying, or installing a power system. Generac provides single generator sets up to 2 MW including multi-megawatt paralleling solutions, Gemini® power systems, with two generators stacked in a single enclosure for amazing space savings. And Generac’s Bi-Fuel™ generators, the only ones fully integrated—and EPA compliant—straight from the factory. Add tools like Power Design Pro™, among the most powerful electrical and mechanical design and sizing software on the market. It’s easy to see why virtually every industry puts their power needs in the hands of Generac.