Steps to Maintain an Electric Generator and Avoid Damage

The electric generators are handy devices since they always take us out of trouble. For example, when there is a cut in electricity because the local electrical network has failed. It can be in places where the power does not work like the forest, in a country house, or even in our caravan.

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Generally speaking, the recommendations for an electric generator of any kind are the same. It is essential to follow them and remember them since it is a machine that contains an engine and is powered by fuel. In this case, we will talk about fossil fuels (gasoline or diesel).

It is worth mentioning that if they are manipulated in the wrong way, we can suffer from an accident.

There are specific steps when using a portable electric generator. In this case, we will first analyze the start-up or what is called the initiation of the equipment.

Steps on How to use an Electric Generator?

1. Read the manufacturer's instruction manual.

Although it may seem obvious, most people do not. So, we insist that this is a significant point.

Instruction Manual

Each manufacturer or brand functions with different parameters, so it is best to read the manual. If you have never used a generator, you should do so with all the more reason, as well as try to keep the manual near your device.

2. Place the generator in an appropriate place

First of all, try to place the electric generator in a level and stable area. This will prevent you from having future headaches. Some accident can be avoided with a correct manipulation of the device.

Also, install it 1m away from any object because the generator produces heat and smoke, which is why you should also place it 6 meters from a window or door and check that it is a dry place.

3. Check the level of fuel (diesel or gasoline)

Generally, these devices have some fuel indicator, so check if the fuel is full. Starting without fuel could damage your generator.

As a precaution, once you start your devices and generator, do not let the fuel run out. It may lead to an unnecessary current fluctuation that causes the failure of the electronic devices you have connected.

4 Check the oil level of the generator

As you know, the generator also needs oil, either 2-stroke or 4-stroke. See if there is enough oil so that when you start your generator, the internal parts of the engine lubricate correctly. Remember also that not any lubricant will work, in the manual, the manufacturer will indicate what viscosity and what type of oil you require.

5. Check the air filter

Some products use air filters of different sizes. If so, check that it is not clogged and that it does not need to be changed. It will serve a longer service life and better performance by reducing fuel consumption.

6. Place the starter and the contact button in the correct position.

It is always advisable to activate the starter or choke of the generator because it is a carburetion engine and needs to be heated optimally. Move or press the contact button to ON.

7. Open the fuel stopcock

Always leave this key turned off when the generator is not running for safety reasons.

8. Inciting the generators

You have to press a start button, turn a key or pull a starter cord firmly to start the generator. However, it will depend on the generator you have. After it warms up a little, you can leave the STARTER lever mentioned in point 6 OFF. And then, you can start to use the generator.

Starting a generator

9. Turn the engine off

Lastly, these are the steps to turn off your generator, either because you no longer need it, you are going to refuel or complete the oil level. Press the start button again or turn the key off to turn your generator off. And then, turn the fuel flow valve OFF.

The Damage that Can be Caused By an Electrical Generator

This is a section that needs to be reviewed very carefully. The correct use of this equipment is secure. However, if we ignore some rules or simple rules, we can turn the generator into a dangerous device.

In this sense, never think about connecting your generator to the electrical network because there could be a back feed of energy. Only some models have a switch or transfer switch that allows you to connect them to the power grid. So before you do that, make sure your generator has such a switch or you'd better not.

On the other hand, do not use the generator indoors, as it can cause carbon monoxide (CO) contamination. Not even in the garage is recommended.

Also, do not forget to buy a generator that produces more power than you need to extract, as overloading it will cause overheating that will shorten the life of the generator and may even cause a fire.

Correct use of the Electrical Generator

The correct use for an electric generator will vary depending on the model we have. For example, these devices have to be used for a determined time according to their characteristics. If it is not a diesel generator, it is better that you do not use it for more than 6 continuous hours. If you need to use it longer, let it rest at 40-minute intervals.

Moreover, it is necessary to program preventive maintenance, such as checking oil, fuel, air filter, hoses, and levers to keep the generator in good condition.

Avoid using it if weather conditions are poor, such as rain or very high humidity condensation. If this is the case, cover it but leave it to ventilate or refrigerate, and never place it on a wet base.

If you want to save fuel or extend the useful life of the generator, try not to manipulate it with the maximum electrical load. In this sense, decide which devices are more essential and value their capacity. If you see that using 15 W lights is as useful as 30 W lights, do not sacrifice that electric charge, optimize and economize.

Remember, if you need to plug an extension cord, check the size of the wiring.

Reminders when using an electric generator:

  • Amount of fuel stored - this amount depends on local or national regulations, so check your storage regulations.
  • Stay away from the generator if you get dizzy - carbon monoxide is a dangerous gas, so if you feel dizzy or weak near the generator, stay away from it.
  • Do not touch the generator with wet hands - as with other electrical devices, this behavior can electrocute you.
  • Before filling the generator with fuel, it is advisable to wait 15 minutes for it to cool down. If not, you may cause an unnecessary fire.
  • Do not store the generator for long periods of time and with flammable liquids in it (fuel/lubricant).
  • Do not leave the recharging fuel near the generator.
  • For your safety, have a fire extinguisher handy.
  • Maintenance of electric generators
  • From time to time it is necessary to carry out repair and maintenance work on electrical generators.

Maintenance of the electric generator-motor:

  • Check the oil level - make sure the level is between the MIN and MAX marks on the dipstick.
  • Oil and oil filters - Always respect the recommended oil change interval and at the same time, replace the oil filter.
  • Air filter – clean the air filter regularly. There is no preset cleaning interval, varying according to the concentration of dust in the air and the chosen filter size. Also, replace the air filter when instructed to do so by the device.
  • Auxiliary belts - the inspection and adjustment of the straps should be carried out after they have been in operation when the belts are hot. Loosen the screws before tightening the alternator belts and check that they yield 10 mm between the pulleys. If they are worn, replace them.
  • Cooling system - Fill the system with a coolant that protects the engine against internal corrosion and freezing if the weather demands it. Never use water alone.
  • Fuel filter - Fuel replacement must be carried out with the engine cold to prevent the high possible risk of fire caused by spilling fuel on hot surfaces.

Alternator Maintenance

We must examine the state of the windings and the bearings, especially when the generators have been inactive for a long time. In the same way, in the generators that work with brushes, it will be necessary to check the wear of these and to proceed to the cleaning of the slip rings.

  • State of the windings - to verify the excellent state of the windings, we have to measure the resistance of insulation to earth. That is to say, the ohmic resistance that offers the casing of the machine concerning earth since it is altered when there is humidity or dirt in the windings.
  • Bearings - check from time to time if the bearings overheat or if they produce excessive noise during their useful operation, so you can keep your generator quiet. Generally, these have to be replaced after 40,000 hours in service. In the case of pulley driven bearings, it is recommended to replace them before, after 25,000 hours in service

What Is an Electric Generator Used For?

Electric generators can be used in two different fields: private and professional.

In the private sphere, they are used as emergency devices to provide electricity when there is an interruption in the usual electricity supply, caused by a failure in the system, accidents or natural catastrophes.

how long can a generator run

Also, electricity generators are used to bring electricity to places where it is not available, such as remote villages, caravans or camping areas, and as support for solar panels, to provide equal power on days when solar energy production has been low for climatic reasons.

On the other hand, in the professional field, electric generators are also used as automatic emergency systems which provide energy to hospitals, schools, factories or institutional buildings. These various sectors are where work is carried out in places far from a central electrical network like mining or construction.

Similarly, they are used as support in renewable energy installations and in situations where greater electrical power is required, such as production peaks.

Are you looking to dampen your generators sound level? Then be sure to read our guide on how to make your generator quiet as a cricket!

Last Updated on June 16, 2021 by Nelson