A Useful Guide to Different Types of Generators and Maintenance
Don’t let a power outage prevent you from using the necessities of life. Read our useful guide to different types of generators and maintenance to learn more.

The average citizen will go without power for four hours throughout the year. At first, it may not sound like much but what if that outage came at the wrong time, the worst time? 

That’s where a generator will play the lifesaving role! There are many types of generators ready to be utilized to ensure that you never have to live in the dark, worried about when the lights will come back on.

Various Types of Generators

Generators can be classified by two major attributes: their energy source and how or where they are used. 

This does not mean there will not be some combination of the two when describing a generator or collection of generators. Each of the fuel sources come with their pros and cons, especially when it comes to environmental impact and cost.

Application

While the ultimate goal is the same, power protection, the three major application types have some specific differences when it comes to building and application size.

Inverter

These connect to an alternator and use energy to produce an AC. Generally, an inverter generator is a smaller appliance, often used in cars, RVs, and boats. 

They are very flexible and energy-efficient due to their self-scaling nature. They adjust their speed according to the current energy needs.

Standby

Large scale machine, wired into the switch paneling of a home or building. These can permanently protect a power supply, which is why they are utilized in hospital protection. 

They can operate on multiple forms of fuel, most commonly propane, using an internal combustion system. 

Portable

Run by gasoline or a form of diesel, these are small application items. A portable is generally rated with enough energy to power a handful of home appliances (freezer, tv, fridge).

The main benefit is the flexibility and portability.

Energy Source

Generators can be run on a wide array of fuel sources and often there is overlap when it comes to the different types of generator. This lends itself to more flexibility and options for configuration.

Propane

While the fuel itself has a longer storage life, a propane generator tends to have a lower expectancy than the other gas-powered generators. 

Propane, however, is a far cleaner burning of fuel. Diesel generators and other diesel-based systems can suffer from a problem referred to as wet stacking, \\when unburned fuel, and soot are pushed into the system forming a dark sludge-like material.

This material causes the machine to work improperly, not burning all the fuel it is sent. With its clean-burning properties, propane does not suffer from these problems.

The trade-off is in the cost. The installation of a propane system is much more expensive. A specialist needs to properly install the system because of the type of gas lines and the cost of upkeep. 

On average propane is more expensive to run as well because it burns more fuel per run.

Gasoline

These are the most common type, often found in many homes. Their prevalence is due in large part to their flexibility. Because they run on gasoline, a very readily available energy source, they are usable in any number of settings.

Gasoline generators are also at the cheaper end of the range. They are limited by the size of the tank that they have and the amount of gas on hand.

That said, they are a financially wise choice for a homeowner that does not need a large output. They are also an effective choice for RVs when camping as well as specified utilities in a home.

The downside of the gasoline generator is the noise output and emission output. They run loud and are dirty machines. 

Diesel

These generators are the workhorses of the bunch. As long as they have regular maintenance they can work through for a very long period. This is dependent on their upkeep, however.

Diesel generators are very susceptible to damage from moisture and because of that are not a good choice for wet environments or anywhere that there is a high risk of water damage. 

The cost of diesel is higher than standard gasoline but still relatively low but it can only be stored for 24 months or less. Beyond that, it will be no longer any good. The higher emissions can be problematic as well, dependent on the regulations of the area.

Because of these higher levels, there are many times, limits on the amount of time that diesel type generators can be run.

They are less portable because they are much heavier though.

Bio-Diesel

Partially diesel fuel, partially another biological source material (often vegetable oil or animal fats). The operation costs are relatively similar to standard diesel generators but with more attention paid to environmental impact.

The ratio, in this case, is 80:20, with diesel being on the lower end. It burns with a much lower level of emissions and with a much lower level of waste. These machines, unfortunately, are still noisy.

This mixture, as a benefit, is also what makes the fuel type more difficult to work with. The ratio needs to be maintained for the fuel to work properly.

Solar

Even more readily available than the gasoline for the fuel-powered generators is the solar energy that powers these machines. These are the most environmentally sound machines and simple to use.

A solar generator is made up of three essential parts, the battery or batteries, the charge controller and the inverter.

The charge controller is what takes in the solar energy, generally, the panels you see, the inverter then converts this to energy stored in the batteries. The downfall of solar systems is their price point and time to charge completely.

Natural Gas 

The initial installation of natural gas generators is quite high because of the gas lines they connect to. This is a benefit of the system though, they have access to an energy source even when power is down.

They do not suffer from the problems many generators do in cold weather as well. Additionally, they do not encounter the same wet stacking issues or the need for refilling as well.

Of course, these systems are not portable.

If the lights keep going out in your home be sure to call Mister Sparky. They can outfit your home, no matter how large or small, with all the generator and power-saving options you need!

Maintaining a Generator

A good place to start is testing the battery quality. This also requires cleaning of the battery. This will give insight into how well the battery holds a charge and how long it will take to charge.

The cooling system in any generator needs to be checked regularly when it is on shutdown. Just like when your car is in for a tune-up, there are coolant levels that need to be adjusted

Just as the cooling needs to be regularly checked, the air filter and spark plugs do as well. Approximately every, 200 hours they should be replaced. Or if that was not counted, the start of a new season.

Fuel cleaning and filtering is a requirement, especially in diesel systems. This fuel type is very likely to collect water, debris, and other particles and can degrade much quicker because of this.

If possible it is a good practice to cycle the generator for a short period each week. This will allow for some filtration and some battery charge recovery. If you are planning on storing your generator for more than a month, drain the tank.

Keeping The Lights On

Knowing the types of generators there are, you know what it takes to keep the lights on when everyone else’s has gone out. You know how essential it is to keep those motors running and so do the guys at Mister Sparky. If your generators fail or you simply have any questions, turn to the experts!

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