No one wants to invest in their equipment more often than they have to. That’s why running backup and prime power generators efficiently is important. It helps prolong the life of the machinery and keeps it running great, every time it’s called on.
Running a generator improperly isn’t like running a car that’s overdue for an oil change. Whereas it’s possible to go more than the recommended distance before getting your oil changed, running a generator without keeping up with maintenance or while “light loaded” will inevitably shorten the lifespan of the generator.
When not maintained and loaded properly, generator sets can be the cause of unplanned downtime, increased time spent on regularly scheduled “lifecycle” maintenance and increased operating costs from excessive fuel consumption, undue wear and increased emission outputs.
What does diesel generator efficiency mean?
All generator sets, whether diesel or natural gas and regardless of application, load setting and operation, are designed to provide power in the most efficient manner possible. As such, every generator set will have an optimal workload-to-fuel-consumption sweet spot. Because different engines consume fuel at different rates, and higher workloads almost always burn fuel most efficiently, diesel generator efficiency is usually achieved at the higher end of the load setting the generator was designed to maintain. A 15kw residential generator, for instance, may have lower fuel consumption operating at 10kw rather than at 6kw.
One of the most prevalent problems with diesel engines running below their designed load capacity for extended periods of time is the phenomenon known as “wet stacking.” Wet stacking occurs when unburned fuel is exhausted due to low operating temperatures. When unburned fuel is exhausted from the combustion chamber, it starts to build up in the exhaust side of the engine, resulting in fouled injectors and a buildup of carbon on the exhaust valves, turbo charger and exhaust.
To avoid wet stacking and other problems resulting from running your generator on a light load, it’s important to run your generator within its optimal range as often as possible. Here are some commonly accepted best practices for achieving diesel and natural gas generator efficiency.
Generator load settings
- Standby and prime powered diesel generators- These generators are usually optimized to run at 50-80 percent of total load rating
- Continuous-rated diesel generator- These generator sets are usually optimized to run at 70-100 percent of total load rating
- Natural gas generator sets- Regardless of application and rating, natural gas generator sets are almost always optimized to run between 70-100 percent of total load rating
Running your generator on a light load for extended periods of time will have an impact on the health of your equipment. It’s likely to lead to unscheduled downtime, higher maintenance costs, increased fuel efficiency and an overall shortened service life for the generator. Remaining within its optimal load bearing recommendations is key to diesel generator efficiency. And, of course, regularly scheduled generator maintenance will help to ensure the long life of your equipment.
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