Commercial Generator Maintenance
Commercial generators, just like your car or truck, have engines and electronics that require regular maintenance, regardless of how often they’re used. Regular maintenance is imperative to ensuring long-life and minimal down-time throughout the life of the generator set. Maintenance schedules can also provide an opportunity for cost-saving measures to complete minor repairs, such as batteries or air filters, at the same time as regular maintenance.
How often should a commercial generator be serviced?
Most standby generators run less than 50 hours each year, which means they only require a PM2 once per year. A PM2 will consist of an inspection on the overall condition of the generator, replacing the engine oil, replacing engine oil filters, fuel filters (if equipped on diesel engines), as well as obtaining oil, coolant, and diesel fuel samples (if desired). Additionally, LionHeart advises that a semi-annual inspection also be performed every six months to ensure our expert technicians can conduct a thorough inspection and address any potential concerns that have come up over the past few months. Our technicians will review any recommendations while onsite and provide repair recommendations discovered during the maintenance visit.
Another type of maintenance is load bank testing, which consists of a piece of machinery (similar to a very large toaster or electric heater), temporary cabling, and your generator(s). A load bank applies an electrical load to the generator end, which, in turn, applies a mechanical load to the diesel or natural gas engine. Operating the engine and generator (alternator) at heavy loads increases exhaust temperatures and verifies the operation of the engine cooling system, automatic voltage regulator and excitation system, fuel system, and helps to eliminate wet stacking in diesel engines.
Every generator set manufacturer has standards for maintenance recommendations that should be used as a guideline during the life of the generator. LionHeart’s maintenance standards meet or exceeds the recommendation of OEMs. Often times the OEM recommendations include daily or weekly inspections of the generator, which can typically be performed by the end user. LionHeart Field Service Engineers (FSEs) and team members are always glad to provide training or answer questions on how to best maintain your generator set – just give us a call or ask while we’re at your facility!
What do I need to do to maintain my commercial generator?
The easiest way to ensure your commercial generator stays maintained is having a LionHeart EGSA Field Service Engineer regularly inspect and service your generator set.
If you’re the hands-on type and want to perform some basic checks yourself, here’s a few simple checks – but beware that the generator can start at any time if left in Automatic / Remote:
- Engine oil level
- Coolant level
- Diesel fuel level (if applicable)
- Overall condition inside and outside
- Rodent infestation
- Keep the generator area clean and free from storage
- Water leaks / snow intrusion
- Inspect for oil, coolant, or fuel leaks
- Condition of belts; inspect for cracks or glazing
PM1 generator services are typically performed quarterly or semi-annually and include a thorough visual inspection of the generator set, controls, and enclosure condition. Checking the engine fluid levels and topping them off, as necessary, is also performed at this time. LionHeart FSEs will work to identify small concerns before they become larger issues and potentially cause the generator to fail, when you need it most, during power outages.
Why is commercial generator maintenance recommended?
Maintenance is crucial to keeping your generator running well for decades. Preventative maintenance allows proactive care and early identification of potential problems that may arise. LionHeart FSEs see hundreds of generators each year and can reflect on problems experienced with similar equipment, thus helping to determine if your equipment might also be subject to these same concerns.
Annual generator maintenance with LionHeart’s PM2 service is critical because engine oil and oil filter media can break down with time, despite the low amount of engine run hours. Diesel fuel filters must be replaced annually because the media inside the filters break down and lose their ability to effectively filter dirt and separate water from the diesel fuel.
Most commercial generators automatically start on a weekly basis from their exercise timer. Typically, this exercise cycle is performed without load, which means that the exhaust temperatures are lower than the manufacturers’ recommended minimum temperatures. Wet stacking will occur in diesel engines when the exhaust temperatures are low and unburnt diesel fuel saturates the exhaust manifold. Annual load bank testing will increase exhaust temperatures well above the manufacturer minimum requirements and reduce the wet stacking effects within the exhaust system.
When should your generator be maintained? Does it differentiate depending on industry?
At a minimum, semi-annual services are recommended with a PM1 occurring every six months. PM2, and load bank testing, services are to be performed on an annual basis. Some industries, or Authorities Having Jurisdiction, such as healthcare, data centers, or life safety applications, have unique testing and maintenance requirements which require them to perform scheduled maintenance and provide records of this maintenance.
LionHeart can work with your specific needs and advise on what the maintenance requirements are for your facility and your business – as we have with thousands of clients over the past twenty years.