Step by Step Basic Generator Info

You need to know a few terms and have a basic understanding of the different types of generator
sets and their operating principles. We will explain in simple terms.
You should have your equipment installed by an expert. A knowledgeable person, who knows
the electric code, can do wiring and simple plumbing can do the installation, but you will have to
know what your doing. Installation may require expert assistance and must adhere to local codes
and regulations, not only to obey the law but to make sure you don't void your insurance by
installing equipment illegally or without permits. We recommend that you have a contractor do
your installation or, at the very least, have him provide professional advice. It is up to you to
make sure the installation is done correctly.
Most homeowners first think of portable generators rather then stationary generators. If you want
to haul a generator outside or put one outside in a shed and plug in cords when there is a power
outage, it can be done.
Home and business owners often ask us two questions:
1. What size generator do I need?
2. Should use a portable or stationary generator for my home or business?
Generator Sizing Procedure
The first step in purchasing a backup power source is figuring out how much power you need.
Power generation systems are rated according to the number of kilowatts (kW) of electricity they

The following chart quickly summarizes how much electricity various power generators can
Description Degrees of Power
5 kW
A basic system that can restore power to
multiple "survival appliances".
Four lights, furnace fan, sump pump and
6.5 kW
A small system to keep all the survival
appliances operating and a few extras.
Survival appliances plus family room.
8 kW
A mid-Sized system to help you weather
powerless days and nights.
Survival appliances plus family room and
home office.
10 kW
An emergency backup power system
providing comfort and security.
Survival appliances plus family room, home
office and kitchen.
15 kW
A powerful system with enough energy to run
a small home.
Survival appliances plus family room, home
office kitchen and laundry room.
25 kW
A mini-power plant that can run a small to
mid-sized home or business.
All of the above plus an air conditioning
30 kW and
A mini-power plant that can run a mid-sized
to large home or business.
All of the above and more. Live in total

It's very important not to run too many appliances at once and overload your emergency power
source. As a general rule, the total running (rated) and starting watts of all the appliances being
used at one time should not exceed the power source's wattage.



Generator sets produce either single or three phase power. You should use the type of power
your panel provides. Residences and small business generally use single phase. Three-phase
power is used for medium to large businesses especially where power is used for motor starting
and running. Three phase generators are set up to produce 120/208 or 277/480 volts. Single-
phase sets are 120 or 120/240. Use the low voltage to run domestic appliances and the high
voltage for your motors, heaters, stoves and dryers. Your service panel is either single phase or
three phase, you don't need a three phase generator if your panel is only single phase. Check with
your electrician before you begin your search.

Your service panel is a good place to start. Go and look at your service panel and see what the
amperage is. If the panel is 100 Amps that tells you that your won't need more then 100 amps of
power. As the panel gets bigger so will your generator needs. It is possible to install a generator
to power only a small portion of your service panel, if you install appropriate sub-panels to sort
out what will and will not be powered.
We recommend diesels due to their longevity and lower operating costs. Today’s modern diesels
are quiet and normally require much less maintenance than comparably sized gas (natural gas or
propane) units.Fuel costs per kW produced with diesels is normally thirty to fifty percent less
than gas units. 1800 rpm water cooled diesel units operate on average 12,000 to 30,000 hours
before major maintenance is required. 1800 rpm water cooled gas units normally operate 6,000
to 10,000 hours because they are built on a lighter duty gasoline engine block. Gas units burn
hotter (higher BTU of the fuel) so you will see generally see somewhat shorter lives than the
diesel units 3600 rpm air-cooled gas units are normally replaced not overhauled at 500 to 1500
hours. These are "stand-by" generators, not intended to be run long hours or very often.

 Advantages:
o Common fuel source - easily obtained
o Increases portability of smaller generators
 Disadvantages:
o Highly flammable
o Short shelf life of fuel (approximately 12 months)
o Storing large quantities of fuel is hazardous


 Least flammable fuel source
 Fuel easily obtained (fuel is easier to obtain during a disaster because it is a necessary
fuel for the military, trucking industry, and farming operations)
 On site fuel delivery available
 18-24 month shelf life, without additives
 Installing large storage tanks raises cost of system
 May not be available during power outages.
Engine block. For long life and quiet operation we recommend four cycle, liquid cooled,
industrial duty diesel engines.
Air or liquid cooling. Air-cooled engines require a tremendous amount of air and may require
ducting and they are somewhat noisier. Liquid cooling offers quieter operation, more even
temperature control and therefore longer engine life. Modern air cooled engines are suitable for
many applications, especially short run, portable or standby uses.
Intake Air. All quality generators have intake air filters with replaceable filter elements. Today
even small portables have replaceable air cleaners.
Mufflers. Most generator come equipped with an industrial grade muffler. One good investment
is a residential or critical muffler that is much quieter and lasts longer. All enclosed generators
should be equipped with at least a residential and preferably a critical muffler.
Lubrication. The lubrication system should have a full flow, spin-on oil filter. Larger generators
should have a filter bypass. Most generators today have low oil alarms and shutdowns, make
sure the generator you select has this valuable feature, its simply a must have protection.
Electrical system and circuit breakers. Standard 12 volt system should include at least the
following: 1) Quality starter motor and battery. Larger generators should include a charging
alternator with a solid state voltage regulator. 2) Larger diesel units should come with a pre-heat
switch and all generators should have a start/stop switch. 3) Al generators should have a safety
shutdown system to protect the engine in case of oil pressure loss, generator over-speed or over-
crank and high water (or operating) temperature. 4) System circuit breaker to protect the
generator. On small systems and portables there should be a circuit breaker on each circuit.

A detailed installation guide will usually be provided with your generator. Here are some
important points to consider when you install your generator.

o Air inlet for combustion and engine cooling.
o Outlets for exhaust and hot cooling air.
o Fuel, battery and AC electrical connections.
o Remember to monitor for carbon monoxide!
o Rigid, level mounting platforms (many sets are already mounted on a steel skid base).
o Open accessibility for easy service.
o Isolation from living space. Keep noise and exhaust away from occupied areas.
o Space and equipment to extinguish a fire. Minimize the possibility of fire danger.
o Remember, GenSets move on their vibration mounts. Allow clearance to compensate and
use flex-joints on all lines and connections.

Generator Pads

GenSets that are housed in weather-protective enclosures are designed for installation out-of-
doors. Typically a cement pad is placed in a suitable location, out of sight but with easy access
for maintenance and fueling. The generator is secured to the pad. Choose a site close to the
electric service and fuel supply lines (natural gas, propane, or diesel). The image below shows a
typical natural gas installation. The main distribution panel, transfer switch and sub-panels are
inside the building in this example, but more often the distribution panel, sub-panels and transfer
switch are outside. You should make sure that 110v power is available at the generator for
battery charging.


Connecting the generator to your electrical distribution system is a job for a qualified, licensed
and bonded electrician who is familiar with local building codes. Electricity is dangerous, respect
All generator systems require a circuit breaker and a distribution panel. The circuit breaker
protects the generator set from short circuit and unbalanced electrical loads. The distribution
panel divides and routes the connected loads and includes circuit breakers to protect these loads.
Stand-by systems also require a main circuit breaker between the utility source and the transfer
panel. The transfer panel switches power from the utility to the GenSet and back so that both
aren't on at the same time. Residential, commercial and industrial generators are equipped with
auto-start to allow connection to auto-transfer switches.

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