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.
A diode is an electrical device or component with two electrodes (an anode and a cathode) through which electricity flows – characteristically in only one direction (in through the anode and out through the cathode). Diodes are generally made from semiconductive materials such as silicon or selenium – substances that conduct electricity in some circumstances and not in others (e.g. at certain voltages, current levels, or light intensities).
What is LED Lighting?
A light-emitting diode is a semiconductor device that emits visible light when an electrical current passes through it. It is essentially the opposite of a photovoltaic cell (a device that converts visible light into electrical current).
Did You Know? There is a similar device to an LED called an IRED (Infrared Emitting Diode). Instead of visible light, IRED devices emit IR energy when electrical current is run through them.
How Do LED Lights Work?
It’s really simple actually, and very cheap to produce…which is why there was so much excitement when LED lights were first invented!
The Technical Details: LED lights are composed of two types of semiconducting material (a p-type and an n-type). Both the p-type and n-type materials, also called extringent materials, have been doped (dipped into a substance called a “doping agent”) so as to slightly alter their electrical properties from their pure, unaltered, or “intrinsic” form (i-type).
The p-type and n-type materials are created by introducing the original material to atoms of another element. These new atoms replace some of the previously existing atoms and in so doing, alter the physical and chemical structure. The p-type materials are created using elements (such as boron) that have less valence electrons than the intrinsic material (oftentimes silicon). The n-type materials are created using elements (such as phosphorus) that have more valence electrons that the intrinsic material (oftentimes silicon). The net effect is the creation of a p-n junction with interesting and useful properties for electronic applications. What those properties are exactly depends mostly on the external voltage applied to the circuit (if any) and the direction of current (i.e. which side, the p-type or the n-type, is connected to the positive terminal and which is connected to the negative terminal).
Application of the Technical Details to LED Lighting:
When an light-emitting diode (LED) has a voltage source connected with the positive side on the anode and the negative side on the cathode, current will flow (and light will be emitted, a condition known as forward bias). If the positive and negative ends of the voltage source were inversely connected (positive to the cathode and negative to the anode), current would not flow (a condition known as reverse bias). Forward bias allows current to flow through the LED and in so doing, emits light. Reverse bias prevents current from flowing through the LED (at least up until a certain point where it is unable to keep the current at bay – known as the peak inverse voltage – a point that if reached, will irreversibly damage the device).
While all of this might sound incredibly technical, the important takeaway for consumers is that LEDs have changed the lighting landscape for the better, and the practical applications of this technology are almost limitless.
As with any piece of equipment that provides power to other tools, the only time one seems to notice a generator is when it’s not working. Generators get thrown around, beaten, and abused, yet they’re always expected to work with one pull. Even though they’re built for abuse, generators won’t last without some regular maintenance. Here are 10 basic tips to keep your generator energized for each job:
1. DON’T BE FOILED BY OIL
Check the oil before each use. If it’s a new generator, change the oil after the first 20 hours of use to remove assembly lube and metallic particles created during the break-in period. Otherwise, change the oil every 100 hours or sooner if operating in dirty conditions.
2. DON’T RIDE DIRTY
Dirty fuel is a result of improper storage or refilling tanks in dusty conditions. To prevent this problem, store fuel in an OSHA-approved receptacle and keep out of high-traffic areas. Also, don’t refill in windy conditions where dust is more prevalent.
3. CLEAR THE AIR
Check the condition of the air filter daily and clean when necessary. Regardless of how dirty it is, clean the filter every 100 hours and change it monthly.
4. KEEP IT CLEAN
Cleaning the engine removes potentially harmful dirt and gives the operator a chance to spot service concerns. Never use a pressure washer as it could cause more harm than good. Instead, use an air supply to blow off any dust and a clean rag with degreaser to wipe off excess dirt and grease.
5. ON THE LOOKOUT FOR LEAKS
Once the equipment is clean and dry, check for any or oil leakage. If a leak is spotted, tighten the parts causing the leak or replace them immediately.
6. HANG TIGHT
Cleaning the engine will also help reveal any obvious damage and loose parts. Take time to tighten loose parts that could vibrate and potentially harm nearby components.
7. DON’T LOSE THAT SPARK
Inspect the spark plugs every 100 hours for damage, oil residue, and excessive carbon buildup. If residue or carbon buildup is found, clean with a wire brush or spark plug cleaner. Immediately replace any plugs that have cracked porcelain.
8. AVOID STRAINER STRAIN
Clean and inspect the fuel strainer located in the fill port of the fuel tank every month. If there is sediment in the fuel strainer, clean and return, or replace if torn.
9. ANNUAL INSPECTION
On an annual basis, take the time to conduct a general inspection of the generator looking for any dirty, broken, or misaligned parts. Furthermore, check the fuel hose each year and replace if there are cracks present.
10. STORE IT PROPERLY
If the generator won’t be used for more than 30 days and the user does not plan to use it for an extended period of time, take special steps to protect the engine. First, conduct all suggested daily maintenance items. Then, remove the battery, clean the posts, and ensure it’s fully charged. Next, drain the fuel from the fuel tank and carburetor float chamber. To prevent corrosion in the cylinder bore, remove the spark plug and inject a few drops of oil through the plug hole. Gently pull the recoil starter knob two or three times before the spark plug is placed back in the plug hole. Additionally, pull the recoil starter knob until resistance is felt and leave in that position. End the process with a final cleaning, ensuring that all cooling air slots and openings are unobstructed. Place a protective cover around the generator and store it in a dry place.
Exercise the generator every 2 months if gas or oil is present in the engine. If the generator will be stored for longer periods, drain the oil and gas from the carburetor, put oil in the cylinder and pull until resistance is felt.
About The Author:
Dale Gabrielse is in sales and marketing at Subaru Industrial Power Products. For more information about generators, visit www.subarupower.com.
Your home’s plumbing and electrical systems may seem as different as any two things could be. But there are significant parallels. Water enters your home through a pipe under pressure, and, when you turn on a tap, the water flows at a certain rate (gallons per minute). Electricity enters your home through wires, also under pressure (called voltage, measured in volts). When you turn on an electrical device, the electricity flows at a certain rate (current, measured in amperes, or amps).
Unlike water, which is used as it comes from the tap, electricity is meant to do work: It is converted from energy to power, measured in watts. Since household electrical consumption is relatively high, the unit of measure most often used is the kilowatt, which is equal to 1,000 watts. The total amount of electrical energy you use in any period is measured in terms of kilowatt-hours (kwh).
The instrument that records how much electricity you use is called an electric meter. This meter tells the power company how much electricity they need to charge you for. There are two types of electric meters in general use. One type displays a row of small dials on its face with individual indicators. Each meter dial registers the kilowatt-hours of electrical energy. For example, if you leave a 100-watt bulb burning for 10 hours, the meter will register 1 kilowatt-hour (10×100 = 1,000 watt-hours, or 1 kwh). Each dial registers a certain number of kilowatt-hours of electrical energy. From right to left on most meter faces, the far right is the one that counts individual kilowatt-hours from 1 to 10; the next one counts the electricity from 10 to 100 kilowatt-hours; the third dial counts up to 1,000; the fourth counts up to 10,000; and the dial at the extreme left counts kilowatt-hours up to 100,000. If the arrow on a dial is between two numbers, the lower number should always be read.
The second type of electric meter performs the same function, but, instead of having individual dials, it has numerals in slots on the meter face, much like an odometer in a car. This meter is read from left to right, and the numbers indicate total electrical consumption. Some meters also use a multiplying factor — the number that appears must be multiplied by ten, for instance, for a true figure in kilowatt-hours. Once you know how to read your meter, you can verify the charges on your electric bill and become a better watchdog of electrical energy consumption in your home.
Three main lines (older houses may have two) are responsible for supplying 110-120/220-240 volts AC (alternating current) to your home. The exact voltage varies depending on several external factors. This three-wire system provides you with 110-120-volt power for lighting, receptacles, and small appliances as well as 220-240-volt power for air conditioning, an electric range, a clothes dryer, a water heater, and, in some homes, electric heating.
Electricity enters your home through the power company’s service equipment, which is simply a disconnect device mounted in an approved enclosure. It’s used to disconnect the service from the interior wiring system. Usually called a main fuse, main breaker, main disconnect, or often just “the main,” this disconnect might be a set of pull-out fuses, a circuit breaker, or a large switch.
Although main disconnects can be mounted outdoors in a weatherproof box, they are nearly always inside the house in a large enclosure that also contains the fuses or circuit breakers, which handle the distribution of power throughout the building. This is called a main entrance panel, a main box, or an entrance box. The three wires from the meter enter this box. Two of them — the heavily insulated black and red lines — are attached to the tops of a parallel pair of exposed heavy copper bars, called buses, at the center of the box. These two lines are the “live,” or “hot,” wires. The third wire, generally bare, is the “neutral.” It is attached to a separate grounding bar, or bus, that is a silver-color strip in the main box. In most homes this ground bus is actually connected to the ground — the earth — by a heavy solid copper wire clamped to a cold water pipe or to an underground bar or plate.