A generator is an invaluable investment for any business or home. Whether it is during brownouts, blackouts or permanent electrical faults, you may want to ensure that you have reliable source of backup power. Power outages are costly as they can tend to cut on working hours as well as interfering with appliances that’s keeps the life going.
Your home can become uninhabitable during winter especially when the heater goes off. You may also experience plumbing problems, and at the same time, the security system will be deactivated. Stored food is also likely to spoil if power is not restored. This is where a generator comes in.
A generator can literally save lives by powering hospital equipment, minimizing spoilage of food, and keeping your house warm during winter. You can use a residential generator to cook, use your computer, or do any other activity until regular power supply is restored.
Types of Generators
Gasoline generators are the most common type of generators mainly because they have a low purchase price and also due to the fact that gasoline is readily available. Gasoline generators are available in small sizes thus they are not the best option for large scale applications. While gasoline can run for extended periods of time, it is usually not available during power outages as it requires electricity to pump.
The fuel is also highly flammable and it tends to deteriorate when stored for a period of more than one year. Besides, it does not ignite well in cold environments which make the rubber components and the engine to wear out faster when compared to diesel, and natural gas.
Propane Gas Generators
Propane gas offers a quiet operation, starts easily in all temperatures, and has a longer shelf life than natural gas and diesel fuels. It is also cleaner, can be stored in any quantity and its availability is not dependent on power supply. Propane gas engine emissions are generally low and unlike diesel engine, it is not subject to wet stacking.
Dual Fuel Generators
Dual fuel generators give you the advantage of dual fuel capability of using either gasoline or propane gas. This allows extended runtime which means that you can power many appliances for a day without refueling.
They are especially important in remote areas where fuel supply is scarce. While on gasoline, the generator can run for a longer time, while with propane, it can power a number of appliances, because it generates more power.
Being able to choose between two fuels with the flip of a switch is a huge benefit as it cuts on stoppage time. These generators have tons of outlets to allow you run your entire home or even your RV of your generator.
Natural Gas Generators
Natural gas is readily available and burns cleanly without a lot of wastage. It is easily available even in absence of power and it offers the advantage of ease of storage either below or above ground tanks. The natural gas lines are always stationed at the operation site which means that the generator can never run out of fuel. This also implies that the generator is not portable.
Natural gas ignites pretty well in cold weather and runs relatively quiet in comparison to other fuels. However, a natural gas generator has a less output level than a similar sized gasoline generator. You may be required to use more gas to yield the same results, which can increase the cost of operation.
Diesel generators are best known for being durable and having low maintenance level. The engines have a long lifespan, and they perform optimally even when subjected to rigorous use, as long as they are well maintained. Diesel is less flammable and just like gasoline, it is readily available. Besides, diesel fuel burns cooler than natural gas or gasoline which helps to reduce the heat, hence preserving the engine. Also, it starts easily in cold situations.
Just like gasoline, you will require power supply to pump diesel and also storing large quantities can turn out to be expensive. It can also be a waste as diesel is only usable for up to two years in storage. Additionally, diesel engine emissions are relatively high which can limit operation hours per day due to environmental concerns. Also, it is not suited for wet environment as presence of moisture in the fuel can ruin the engine.
Diesel Generators are subject to wet stacking, a condition that allows unburned fuel into the exhaust system. However, improvements in engine technology have greatly reduced this menace.
Bio-diesel generators run on both diesel fuel and another biological fuel such as animal fat. It runs just like an ordinary diesel engine only that it is more conscious to the environment. It burns with less emissions and it produces less wastes as it uses less of non-renewable energy fuels.
Just like ordinary diesel, bio-diesel is less flammable but the engine tends to be noisy. The ratio of diesel to oil must be kept at 80:20, and this may be a challenge to some operators.
Hydrogen Gas Generators
Although this is a latest invention, hydrogen-powered generators have gained popularity over the years due to the versatility nature of hydrogen gas. Hydrogen is plentiful, cheap, and clean, and it produces more energy than common fuel types.
Hydrogen generators are suited for many environments including marine use, and although they are not readily available, they are very portable and safe to use.
Marine generators are available as either diesel or gas powered generators. Emulsified diesel, a mixture of diesel and water blended with a binding agent, is the best choice for industrial use as produces less emissions and uses less fossils fuels than ordinary diesel.
Typically, marine generators are designed to cope with rugged environment conditions such as near salt water. They utilize hydraulic pump systems, use durable materials, and other aspects that make them effective for marine life.
Generator maintenance is a similar process for almost all the types but it is important to follow the maintenance schedule provided by the individual manufacturer. Generally, a routine maintenance practice will involve;
- Inspecting oil leaks and oil level which must be changed regularly depending on your work environment.
- Assessing coolant level at regularly intervals particularly during shutdown periods.
- Inspecting the belts and hoses for any damages.
- Ensuring that the battery is in good condition and charged enough to last as long as possible.
Summing it up…
The major consideration when selecting the appropriate generator is determining the environment under which the unit is going to operate. You should also consider budget constraints, need for portability, safety considerations and the ease of refilling when the supplies are low.