Woodstock Power Company Web Series: Stationary Generators (What Type?)

While we previously focused on portable generators, we wanted to shift focus to the other type of generator form factor out in the market known as stationary generators. In contrast to portable generators, stationary generators are meant to be installed on-site at a facility and provide backup power to your business in the event of a power outage. In this video, we’ll be going through a 150 kW Kohler 150REZGB natural gas generator to show how stationary generators differ from portable generators.

When it comes to stationary generators, there are two main types of stationary generators that are used in the market – diesel and natural gas. While these two generator types work similarly, there are key differences that set them apart from one another.

This is one of the biggest decision makers when it comes to the two types of stationary generators. Natural gas generators run off natural gas or may possibly be converted to run off of propane, while diesel generators run off, well… Diesel fuel. Though both diesel and natural gas generators are commonly used by various businesses, there are key elements that are considered before moving ahead with a purchase.

Natural gas generators are usually connected directly to the natural gas pipeline of the main utility, which removes the need for a fuel tank unlike diesel generators. What this means is that as long as connection to the main gas utility is not disconnected and functioning properly, the generator can run almost indefinitely without having to worry about refueling the generator. While this may seem like the smarter option of the two, it’s important to note that natural gas generators require more frequent maintenance in between use. Additionally, in cases such as natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, or earthquakes, natural gas is one of the first utilities to be shut off in order to prevent potential fires or possible explosions. A good item to keep in mind is to never try to backup more than you can supply your generator with. Always make sure that you have enough gas supply in order for you to power the generator sufficiently.

Diesel generators sometimes have a fuel tank attached to the base of a generator set known as a diesel base tank. This stores diesel fuel and feeds it to the generator in order to operate. In some instances, facilities install a larger tank away from the generator and connect the fuel line to the larger tank, thus removing the need for a base tank to operate the generator. What this means is that diesel generators are not reliant on a natural gas pipeline and the potential of it being shut off, but it’s important to keep keep in mind that diesel generators are usually limited to their tank capacities. This makes it important to keep track of how much diesel fuel is being consumed and the rate at which it is being consumed. When purchasing and installing a diesel generator, it’s absolutely vital to think ahead about situations where the generator may be running and will need a steady fuel supply. A good example for this type of situation is if there is a blizzard and power to the main utility is lost. Diesel generators can provide power to your facility, but it’s important to have contingency plans in place to refuel the diesel fuel tanks. A solution might be to have additional portable diesel fuel tanks on-site or setting up logistics for diesel fuel deliveries in case of these types of emergencies.

Unlike portable generators that generally have many different breakers that allow users to fine tune their power needs to meet different voltages and amperage requirements, stationary generators usually have one main breaker. There are some instances where customers may opt to have two breakers installed. One which would act as the main breaker to meet a certain voltage and one to act as a life safety breaker to meet certain life safety requirements.

While portable generators are well-known in the market to be easy to transport and move from location to location and job site to job site, stationary generators are not meant to move, but installed in one location and stay there. When stationary generators are installed, they require a concrete pad, need to be connected to the transfer switch inside the facility, and also connected to the main electrical board.

In some cases, there are stationary generators that are set to one specific voltage. This means that the leads connected to the alternator cannot be reconnected and be converted to a different voltage. Most portable generators enable users to quickly switch to different voltages depending on power needs due to a voltage selector switch, whereas stationary generators must have an alternator that allows the generator to be reconfigured. This can be verified when checking the specification sheets of the generator or confirmed with the generator manufacturer.

After reviewing these key differences, one might wonder why businesses would opt to install a stationary generator instead of using a portable generator. Stationary generators are often great long-term power solutions for many businesses and facilities due to overall cost. If you’re heavily relying on a portable rental generator from a dealer, the costs may eventually add up over time. It’s important to note how much is being spent regularly on rental costs and evaluate if it may be more cost-effective to purchase and install a stationary generator versus constantly renting a generator in the long run. Stationary generators also provide users with the flexibility of using a different fuel type other than diesel. This is important to keep in mind depending on your location, especially if the cost of natural gas is cheaper than diesel. This can cut down costs on your generator’s fuel supply. Another reason that businesses may decide to go with stationary generators is peace of mind. If you have established a rental contract with a generator dealer, you still have to ensure that the generator will be delivered on-time and in an expedient manner, as well as properly set up. Stationary generators when paired with an automatic transfer switch (also known as an ATS) ensures that the generator will kick in when a power outage is detected and turn off when power has been restored to the main utility grid.

If you’re looking for more information on stationary generators or looking to purchase one for your business/facility, then feel free to reach out to us at Woodstock Power Company! We have industry experts that specialize in consultation, sales, and can help guide you through not only the generator selection process, but what to expect when installing one at your facility.


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