What Should I Know about Generators?

I know one thing I wish I’d known about diesel generators is that they need their oil level checked daily if they are running 24/7. I had rented a 25 KVA diesel generator for a factory we were building in the middle of nowhere. That old generator just ran and ran…till it didn’t. When the service guys came out and asked me when I’d last checked the oil, I gave them that dumb blank stare. Then I responded with the pitiful, “But you never told me I needed to check the oil.” Paying to help repair the engine on the generator helped me remember the lesson.

If you need to provide temporary electric on a jobsite, diesel, gasoline or propane generators often solve the problem. Trying to determine the size generator you need can also be a challenge. The following Honda websitehttp://www.hondapowerequipment.com/genwat.asp shows the power requirements for lots of devices. The big difference in current draw for motors starting vs just running should be noted. I was also surprised how much energy computers use.

A site to compare pricing and features for industrial generators http://www.gopower.com/ shows the options available. The first decision concerns the fuel used to power the generator; the normal options are diesel, natural gas or propane. Deciding which items will be powered in a power outage determines the size of the generator, typically in KVA. The location of the proposed generator leads to the type of housing required.

As an interesting aside, I came across instructions to build the world’s simplest generator. You may want to kill some time playing around with this or help a kid with a science project or some such thing. This simple device clearly shows the definition of an electric generator as a device that changes mechanical energy into electrical energy. On the other hand, a motor changes electrical energy into mechanical energy.