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Portable Generator Maintenance Tips

Portable Generator Maintenance Tips

Portable generators combine the convenience of mobility with the practicality of on-site power-on-demand — as long as they work. Generators of all types and form factors require routine service & maintenance to ensure that are operating at maximum performance and efficiency. Without proper maintenance, your generator is at risk of malfunctions or even irreparable damage to the generator that can bring your business operations to a halt. When you’re on the job, every second is critical, and a generator failure can result in project delays that can hurt not only your bottom line but also your reputation. Additionally, if you require a portable generator in times of emergencies or for disaster recovery efforts, a generator that is not properly serviced & maintained can result in generator failure, which can delay recovery efforts or bring other dire consequences when you need it most.  That’s why a regular service & maintenance routine is so crucial. Taking these small steps will keep your portable generator and your business running smoothly or be ready in times of emergency.

How to Maintain a Portable Generator

Portable generator maintenance is similar to the routine service & maintenance on a stationary generator, but with a few key differences. For example, portable generator maintenance varies depending on whether you rent or own your machines.

If you rent your portable generators, the rental company should provide a service contract and handle regular service & maintenance for you. However, if you own your portable generator, you will need to ensure it receives proper routine maintenance.

Depending on your business size and how many generators you own, you may choose to hire an in-house generator technician or establish a maintenance contract with a dealer. Whatever the case, it’s important to ensure your portable generator is checked according to the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance schedule.

The type of generator you use, the ways you use it, and use frequency will determine if maintenance schedules run on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annual basis. If you are using a portable generator for emergency or standby applications, such as mainly during power outages – then your maintenance schedule will differ significantly when compared to a generator run in continuous or prime configurations. Continuous and prime generators are designed to run for prolonged periods and often act as a primary source of power, especially when working in remote locations that are off the main power grid. Due to this reason, continuous and prime generators require service & maintenance on a more frequent basis.

The type of fuel you also use impacts maintenance. Diesel generators have engines similar to cars, and they require little overall maintenance. Natural gas generators use spark-ignition and pistons to operate and require more frequent maintenance intervals. These generators are also subject to natural gas leaks, which can cause serious safety concerns. These leaks often occur through the tubes, valves, and fuel lines. To avoid accidents, make sure natural gas generators are inspected regularly.

Identify how your portable generator functions, and then talk to a professional about what manufacturers recommend for your equipment.

Portable Generator Maintenance Checklist

When performing general maintenance, generator personnel will inspect your machines, maintain records of their data, and practice preventive safety measures. Here’s a portable generator maintenance checklist to ensure all essential elements are examined:

Check

  • Fluid levels, including coolant, fuel, and engine oil
  • That the circuit breaker is closed
  • Battery, charger, and cables
  • Battery electrolyte level and specific gravity
  • Exhaust system, muffler, and pipe

Inspect

  • Generator for leaks
  • Enclosure for debris
  • Coolant heater and coolant line

Clean

  • Connections
  • Crankcase breather

Change

  • Fuel filters
  • Air filters
  • Worn out parts
  • Components that need upgraded

Test

In addition to general maintenance, your portable generator will require specific maintenance based on the type of fuel it uses. Generally, diesel generators require less maintenance overall when compared to their natural gas counterparts. Natural gas generators can also be converted to run off of propane gas, but maintenance for propane generators are similar to that of natural gas units.

Portable Generator Maintenance Checklist

Additional maintenance for natural gas generators includes:

  • Check fuel hose for cracks or leaks — very important to prevent dangerous natural gas leaks
  • Check all valves and fittings to ensure that gas lines are secured
  • Change spark plugs if needed
  • Change oil if needed
  • Ensure fuel pressure is at the recommended level for natural gas

Additional maintenance for diesel generators includes:

  • Check and drain accumulated water in the gas tank
  • Take a fuel sample from the bottom of the tank and supply line
  • Treat diesel fuel if needed – diesel fuel can go bad over time and treatments can extend the life of diesel fuel
  • Filter or replace fuel that does not look like new fuel
  • Clean carbon deposits from fuel
  • Change oil if needed
  • Ensure fuel pressure is at the recommended level for diesel

As stated, propane generators are similar to natural gas generators, with many generator users purchasing a conversion kit to allow their natural gas generator to run off of propane gas. That being said, maintenance items are similar to the maintenance required of natural gas generators with slight differences.

Additional maintenance for propane generators includes:

  • Check fuel hose for cracks or leaks — very important to prevent dangerous propane gas leaks
  • Check all valves and fittings to ensure that gas lines are secured
  • Change spark plugs if needed
  • Change oil if needed
  • Ensure fuel pressure is at the recommended level for propane – be sure also to check propane tank pressure

To ensure your safety, make sure your generator is always serviced by a professional who understands the machine and proper maintenance procedures. It may be tempting to neglect maintenance when all is functioning well. However, a regular maintenance schedule takes the guesswork out of your machines and sets you up for successful, long-lasting generators.

Generator service conducted by a professional includes not only visually and physically inspecting the generator, but also includes any required load bank testing and exercising of the generator to ensure that it is reaching optimal output ratings. Generator service professionals will also be able to double-check any control panels and connections to the facility’s electrical circuit to ensure that the generator can power the facility when needed. These are generally routine items that are included in routine service & maintenance plans.

Industries Optimized for Portable Generator Use

Portable generators are important to any industry with power and mobility needs that can’t be solved with traditional electricity. A selection of these industries include:

  • The construction industry: Portable generators power construction equipment, lighting systems, trailer offices, and more in the construction industry. These generators can be transported around a construction site or from one job site to another as necessary.
  • The oil & gas industry: The oil and gas industry uses portable generators to support drilling and digging tasks and provide backup power in the case of emergency. Portable generator mobility allows a unit to be transported between drilling sites as needed.
  • The mining industry: The mining industry heavily relies on portable generators to power projects. Mining sites are often in remote, off-site locations that require a reliable, portable power source to power key equipment and machinery.
  • The event planning industry: Outdoor events and events located off-grid often require a portable generator that can help event planners power all key equipment, systems, and machinery that are required to successfully run the event.
  • The grocery industry: Portable generators for grocery stores and supermarkets are being increasingly commonplace, as severe storms, natural disasters, and the aging power grid are increasing in both frequency & severity. Some grocery stores have even taken precautionary measures to prepare their facilities to connect to a portable generator in the event of a power outage.
  • The ski resort industry: Ski resorts have the perfect storm of circumstances requiring a generator — lodges, electric ski lifts, and snow machines that need power plus the potential of severe weather during peak season. Portable generators allow resorts to tow the machines to specific lift destinations to keep power running at all times.
  • The telecom industry: Cell towers and infrastructure are essential for effective communication. Downtime in the telecom industry is costly, which makes generators a necessary investment. Portable generators allow workers to transport electricity between tower locations to power equipment and towers.
  • The disaster recovery industry: No one can predict when and where the next natural disaster will strike. That’s why mobility is key in the disaster relief industry. With a portable generator, relief crews can arrive in a timely fashion with the power to support essential medical and safety operations.
  • The event planning industry: Festivals, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and more require power for smooth operation. When events take place in remote locations, portable generators can make the trip and provide the necessary electricity.

Wherever reliable power and flexible mobility needs meet, a portable generator is a valuable tool. These industries rely on portable generators and proper maintenance to keep their operations running no matter the circumstances.

What Can Happen if Portable Generators Aren’t Maintained?

Failure to keep up with your generator’s maintenance needs can lead to some undesirable consequences. Unmaintained generators may set off a chain of unfortunate events that begins when they:

  • Failure to start: An unmaintained generator may be due for a battery replacement or have a fluid leak that prevents it from starting in your moment of need. A generator that doesn’t start may lead to an extended period without power. This may…
  • Cause costly downtime: No matter the industry, downtime is frustrating and unproductive. If your business provides service to customers, you’ll be left to troubleshoot power concerns while also caring for your consumers. In any case, a lack of power will disrupt normal operations and may…
  • Cause safety concerns: Without light or electricity, a construction site, concert, resort, or drilling site can present serious safety concerns. This may increase your business’s liability in the event of accidents or injuries. You also may have to replace your portable generator sooner because without proper maintenance, they…
  • Don’t last as long: Regular maintenance schedules extend the life of your generator. A professional can service your machine and help prevent incidents like this and can also keep your generator running in an optimal state for as long as possible. This ultimately saves you money and time.
  • Generator damage: Without proper care & maintenance of your generator, the engine can suffer from irreparable damage, which could require you to replace the generator entirely. Generator sets that suffer from damage due to neglect can also potentially result in fatal incidents to any service professionals that are working on a neglected generator. Generator service & maintenance is not solely to ensure the generator is operating at peak efficiency but is also an opportunity to help identify any items that may be in need of service to prevent accidents from occurring.

Maintaining your generator is one small step that makes a world of difference on a daily basis and especially during a crisis. Your business is important, and generators help you get the job done. Support your portable generators with regular maintenance.

Find a Reliable Portable Generator at Woodstock Power

If you need a portable generator you can count on, turn to Woodstock Power. Our generators aren’t confined to a specific brand, which means we’ll work hard to get you the equipment that fits you best. Save up to 70% on new and used generators when you shop with us.

We’re committed to saving you time and money. Our knowledgeable staff will work with you to find the equipment best suited to your needs. And when you purchase from Woodstock Power, we’ll deliver, install and maintain your generators.

Contact us or browse our inventory today to find a quality generator that keeps your business running!

Find a Reliable Portable Generator at Woodstock Power

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