Now that you have put in the needed effort and money to buy your dream power generator, it is now time to ensure that you run the generator according to the expectation of the manufacturer. How long an electric power generator set can serve you depends on how well you use and maintain it.
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Some people leave their generator at the mercy of the elements; they starve it of engine oil and the worst of it all they overload the poor generator. Yet they expect their generator to respond when called to duty.
This post provides information on how you would maintain your electric power generator set so that all the effort and money applied in its procurement will not be wasted.
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Maintaining your Electric Power Generator
Here you will find common sense generator maintenance tips. We will be focusing on preventive maintenance of power generators as that is what should concern you as a generator owner.
Corrective maintenance should be left for generator mechanics. One assurance is that observing preventive maintenance guideline provided here will reduce your need for corrective maintenance.
Following these tips will also ensure you qualify for manufacturer warranty if things go wrong. Here are your generator maintenance tips:
1. Study Generator Manual in Detail Before First Use
Your generator comes with a user manual, which contains most of the information you need to properly use and maintain your generator. In the manual you will also find information on how to properly start or stop your generator.
You will also find information on how to properly use and maintain your generator. It is also important to state that the recommended guidelines given here should not be a replacement for reading your generator manual.
When our recommendation conflict with your generator user manual, we advice you follow your generator manual instead.
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2. Inspect Generator and Connection Before each Start
Check oil and fuel level before starting your generator. If your generator uses liquid coolant (like water), also check the coolant level. Ensure coolant, fuel, and engine oil are in the right level before starting the generator.
Check for leakages in the fuel line or spilled fuel. Replace line if broken, clean up fuel spills before starting your generator. Also inspect the electrical wiring.
3. Use Recommended Engine Oil, Check Level Before Start
Your power generator crankcase must be filled with the manufacturer recommended engine oil. If possible buy your engine oil in sealed containers and ensure that the logo showing that the oil meets the minimum standard required by your generator manufacturer is on the label.
If you must buy in pints ensure to ask the retailer for the container of the engine oil just to be sure it meets the need of your generator. Always ensure that the engine oil level of your crankcase is within limits before starting the generator.
Ensure that the oil is clean. As the generator crankcase gets dirty with time it is important that you change all the oil after sometime. This you do by draining the crankcase of oil and then refilling with the recommended engine oil.
We recommend that for generators operating in Nigeria this ritual should take place every two weeks (or every 30 to 40 hours). Change oil every 2 weeks, in addition ensure to change your engine oil within the first month of use. Consult your generator manufacturer manual for details.
Replace Parts with Only Genuine Spares
Ensure that all part replacements are with genuine spares. Make sure the repair mechanic uses the right parts. When replacing parts like spark plugs make sure they are the ones recommended by your generator manufacturer.
Load Generator at less than 80% Rated Power Capacity
For best performance and longevity of your generator, load it at between 50% and 70% of its rated capacity for continuous usage. This recommendation is very important for generators that are used frequently as is usually the case for generators operating in Nigeria.
This means that a 2.5 KVA generator should not be loaded beyond 1.75 KVA all the time. If you must exceed this limit it should not be for long and must not be on a daily basis or you may have to be visiting generator mechanics frequently. Improper loading is the most common cause of generator break down.
The funny part is that when your generator breaks down, you blame it on the manufacturer, or China. But we put it to you that you are the culprit.
A generator usually have two power ratings, the maximum power which is the level of loading that must not be exceeded under any circumstances and the rated power, which is actually the power that should interest you as it determines the level of load your generator can handle in continuous operation.
Note that although your generator can handle full loading, it is not recommended for generators used frequently. It is better you limit loading to less than 70% (or even 50%) of generator rated power.
Your electric generator should not be overloaded. It must be operated within the rated power. If you notice the sound of your generator changing due to excessive loading switch-off some appliances.
If the generator automatically switches off due to over-loading, turn-off all appliances before turning on generator again. For an optimum generator operation you should operate the generator at about half the rated power.
Load and Unload Generator Gradually
Improper loading of generators is one of the most common causes of generator break down. Do not start your generator with everything connected. Start your generator at no load, then apply load gradually.
Turn off all appliances, turn off control switch, then start your generator, turn on control switch, then turn on your appliances gradually one after another starting with those with higher starting current, like your Refrigerator, A/C, computer monitor, CRT TV, etc.
For example appliances like Freezers, A/Cs, Refrigerators require about 3 times rated power to start. That means that a Refrigerator rated 300W will require about 900 watts or more to start.
This is why you have to start your appliances gradually to ensure the high starting power required to start appliances do not overload your generator.
This is also the reason why you must never allow your generator to run out of fuel. This is because the generator will start turning on and off as it tries to use up the little remaining fuel and each time your goes on and off, your appliances goes on and off as well. Except if you know that the capacity of your generator can handle the cumulative starting power of all your appliances. Never start generator with every appliance on.
Also do not turn off generator with every appliance on. Switch-off your appliances gradually allow the generator to run at no load for a while before, turning off your generator. Do not run a generator at no load for a long time.
Service and Install Generator by authorized Mechanics/Electricians
Do not take your generator to unqualified mechanics for servicing. If you are in Nigeria, this may be hard as most generator mechanics in Nigeria are not qualified. Ask the generator dealer to recommend a good generator mechanic for your generator servicing and repair.
Good generator dealers usually have servicing department to handle all your servicing needs. If they do, take your generator to them when it needs servicing or repair. Also ensure that an authorised Technician install your generator.
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Ensure Generator Spark Plug is Clean
A spark plug in conjunction with the starter system and the engine provide the initial energy for your power generator set. A dirty spark plug will not respond to your generator starter system and is most likely to damage it. Always ensure your spark plugs are clean.
Using your wrench remove the spark plugs and inspect for dirt or cracks. Remove dirt with a wire brush. If the insulator on the spark plug is cracked you will have to buy a new one. Always have a spare spark plug handy. Ensure that the gap of the spark plug is within the limit set by your gen manufacturer.
Check your spark plug every 6 weeks, adjust gap and clean or change if damaged. Clean the spark plug with wire brush or sand paper. Consult your generator manufacturer manual for details.
Fill Fuel tank with the right fuel, check level
Your electric power generator set should not be operated with a close to empty tank. Never allow the fuel in your generator fuel tank to go to less than 5% of the generator tank capacity.
Worst still never allow your generator to stop automatically due to an empty tank. Starving your generator of fuel can cause problems for your engine.
Ensure that the fuel you put in your tank is the recommended fuel (petrol or diesel). Two stroke engines like those small generators (I big Pass my Neighbour) require a mixture of fuel with engine oil, make sure you mix to instruction.
Ensure that the fuel tank, Jerry can, and funnel are free of any contamination. Do not buy fuel from the road side or from a filling station you do not trust. Also ensure that you do not refill the generator while the engine is still running. Switch-off your mobile phone while refueling your generator.
Ensure generator is Clean in and out
You must ensure that your generator is clean. Clean the body of dust, water or fuel spills. Your fuel tank and fuel line should be checked and cleaned by an authorized generator technician at least every 18 months or as recommended by your generator manufacturer
Your electric generating set is bound to serve you well if you respect it and give it all the rights that are due to it.
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