1. Signs That You Have a Fuel Problem with Your Diesel Generator

    March 25, 2015 by rwritz
    Signs That You Have a Fuel Problem with Your Diesel Generator

    Businesses buy diesel generators so that they have backup power when they need it. But if the generator is rarely used or not maintained well, that backup system can fail, essentially negating your investment. In some cases this is mere inconvenience. In others, it can shut down the business or, in extreme cases, such as in a hospital environment, be life-threatening.

    To avoid these types of situations, routine generator maintenance is a must. But most generator maintenance advice focuses on things like load bank testing, parts inspection and replacement, checking fluids and battery levels, and making sure the control panel readings are accurate. Rarely does fuel quality cross our minds, yet without adequate fuel, the system won’t work. That’s why fuel management should be added to every diesel generator maintenance checklist.

    Diesel Fuel Management

    Diesel fuel is a natural substance that degenerates over time. After 6-12 months, sitting fuel should be cleaned or replaced to ensure optimum performance of your generator. Fuel that sits too long can grow bacteria and generate sludge build up, neither of which is good for your engine. It’s not always possible to anticipate when fuel will go bad since it happens so gradually and is highly dependent on storage conditions. For that reason, fuel sampling and analysis should be done on a regular basis.

    The good news is you don’t need to toss out unused fuel after 6-12 months of sitting. Diesel fuel can be cleaned. Called Fuel Polishing, the process involves a fuel analysis followed by necessary sterilization, a cleaning of particulates, bacteria, fungi, and rust. Cleaning is done using a combination of chemicals, filters, or algae-based solutions.

    Spotting Problems with Your Generator’s Fuel

    • Fuel problems can show up in both the fuel tank or in the generator itself. Common signs that you have a fuel problem include:
    • Fuel appears dark in color.
    • Fuel smells odd.
    • Sediment has formed in the tank.
    • Dark colored exhaust.
    • Clogged fuel lines and/or filters.
    • Damage to the starting system.
    • Clogged or damaged fuel injection pumps or injectors.
    • Generator performance issues.

    Add Fuel Maintenance to Your Checklist and Protect Your Generator

    To ensure an adequate power supply when you need it, you need more than a backup generator. You need a well-maintained generator and a supply of clean fuel on-site. Add fuel sampling and analysis to your generator maintenance checklist and you won’t have to worry that your power will fail when you need it most.

    To learn more about generators and generator fuel management contact Critical Power Exchange at 877-315-4176 or visit us online at www.criticalpower.com.


  2. Advantages of Air-Cooled Generators

    March 17, 2015 by mvadmin
    Advantages of Air-Cooled Generators

    Air-cooled generators are some of the most cost-effective and reliable generators on the market. These machines have a long history of use and many fans due to their plentiful benefits.

    What Is An Air-Cooled Generator?

    Generators create a lot of heat when in use and the engines must be cooled off periodically to reduce the risk of overheating or premature engine failure. Air-cooled generators rely on fans and ambient air to cool the engine. The fans force air that is drawn in from the outside over the engine to keep it cool. This is in contrast to liquid cooled generators that rely on enclosed systems and liquid anti-freeze to keep the engine at appropriate temperatures.

    Air-cooled generators are typically smaller than the liquid cooled machines, used in machines up to 22kW. Generators over 22kW are generally liquid-cooled.

    The Advantages Of Air Cooled Generators

    • Simple, Efficient Design. Fewer engine components make the air-cooled generator a much simpler design that takes up much less space than other types of generators. This simpler design affects many different aspects of the machine, which we get in to below. Diesel-fueled generators have even more efficiency benefits since they require less fuel to run than natural gas-powered units, warm-up faster, and operate at higher temperatures.
    • Reliable. Simpler designs are more reliable with fewer components that can fail. They are commonly used in critical applications and where reliable long-term power is needed. Since they are smaller generators, they are highly portable, making them perfect for emergency situations.
    • Adaptable. Since only air is needed to keep the engine cool, air-cooled generators can be used in many different environments without fear of mechanical complications. Excessive heat, cold, and dust don’t affect the cooling process. Fewer operational demands make these types of generators highly adaptable and useful in many different applications.
    • Inexpensive. Since air-cooled generators don’t need as many engine components as liquid-cooled models, they are comparatively less expensive. They also tend to be smaller generators with lower output levels, which also impacts their price. Diesel-fueled generators ultimately require less fuel than other types of generators, which can save you money too.
    • Low maintenance. Fewer components and a less complicated cooling system decrease the maintenance needs of air-cooled generators. Not only are there fewer pieces to maintain, there are fewer components to fail, reducing overall downtime.

    Right Sizing Your Generator

    Despite the many benefits of air-cooled generators, they may not be right for every application. Do your research to determine if an air-cooled machine can meet your power and usage requirements before making a purchase. For help evaluating and comparing generators contact Critical Power Exchange at 877-315-4176 or visit us online at www.criticalpower.com.


  3. Parallel Generators: Do You Need Them?

    March 13, 2015 by mvadmin
    Parallel Generators: Do You Need Them?

    Today’s need for constant electrical power is one of the primary reasons home and business owners install generators. The whole reason generators are installed is to provide uninterrupted electrical power, either as a main source of energy or for back-up purposes. If the generator were to fail for some reason, the facility would be left without power – the exact situation site managers were trying to avoid. That’s just one reason that some sites install parallel generators.

    When To Install Parallel Generators

    Besides providing backup power for your primary or backup power source, parallel generators are also used in situations where the power demands of the site cannot be met with a single generator. Available units may provide way more power than you need or much less power than you need. In either case, a parallel set can be used to meet your exact power demands without you having to purchase overcapacity or make do with less power than is needed.

    How Parallel Sets Work

    Parallel gensets aren’t difficult to understand. Instead of one generator, two or more units are installed and connected to the same critical systems or into the main power system to provide backup or continuous power. In many cases, particularly when used as a redundant source of power, two of the exact same generators are installed. This is the easiest way to set up a parallel system since output rating, alternator pitch, and other features are exactly the same.

    For organizations that need varying power levels depending on changing demands, gensets with varying output levels may be a better choice. Parallel sets with varying output levels provide greater flexibility in use, allowing you to ramp up the output when maximum power is needed or take it down during times of minimal demand. Paralleling switchgear is used to connect the sets together and into the main power system.

    Benefits Of Parallel Generators

    Today’s parallel gensets are much easier to manage than parallel sets of the past, making them more accessible for smaller business and applications. Top benefits include:

    •    Improved Reliability. Multiple generators improve the overall reliability of the power system. Even if one unit fails, the second one is standing by, ready to pick up the slack.
    •    Readily Expandable. Having more than one generator on hand makes it easy to meet your power requirements as load demand increases over time.
    •    Flexible. Multiple smaller units will fit more easily into the physical spaces available since they do not have to be located next to one another and can be distributed throughout the site, wherever space is available.
    •    Maintenance Benefits. Multiple units mean maintenance and service can be conducted at any time without fear of disrupting the entire power supply.

    Do You Need Parallel Gens?

    • Do you need an uninterrupted power supply?
    • Do you need more power than one generator can provide?
    • Are you having trouble finding one generator that meets your power demands fully?
    • Do you have limited physical space for a generator?

    If you can answer “Yes” to any one of these questions, contact Critical Power Exchange at 877-315-4176. We can help you find a genset or parallel sets that will meet your power demands without breaking your budget. Visit us online at www.criticalpower.com.


  4. Generator Maintenance Checklist

    March 10, 2015 by mvadmin
    Generator Maintenance Checklist

    Like any other piece of machinery, generators need routine maintenance, even if, or perhaps especially if, they are not used frequently. This helps ensure the machine will work properly and to its full potential when it is needed. Regular maintenance also extends the life of generators.

    Generator Maintenance Checklist

    Generator maintenance needs are extremely predictable. The machines are so widely used and have been used for so long that we can reliably predict when parts will fail or need repair. How frequently a generator needs maintenance depends on the generator. The best course of action is to follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule.

    Most maintenance schedules will follow the same checklist. You’ll need to:

    Remove worn parts and upgrade or replace them.

    Check fluid levels, including coolant and fuel.

    Inspect and clean the battery.

    Conduct a load bank test on the generator and automatic transfer switches.

    Check that the control panel readings and indicators are accurate.

    Change the air and fuel filters.

    Inspect the cooling system.

    Lubricate parts as needed.

    In-House Maintenance Vs. Contractual Maintenance

    Now you may be wondering if you have the time or expertise to do generator maintenance in-house. You’ll be pleased to know that finding a qualified technician to perform routine maintenance on generators isn’t so hard.

    Businesses that have several gensets or use them for prime power usually have full time engineers devoted to repairs and maintenance. Smaller companies or those who use the generator infrequently usually do not have full-time staff devoted to generator maintenance. Instead, they have maintenance agreements with generator dealers or electricians to come in and perform the maintenance. Contractual maintenance agreements often have the added benefit of providing you with priority service in an emergency and even discounts on necessary work.


    Whether the technician is an employee or a contractor, the duties are the same:

    Inspect the systems

    Review technical data on the machine

    Maintain records

    Ensure safety measures are in place as recommended by the manufacturer.

    The Importance Of Maintenance Records

    One thing that is worth noting is the need for accurate maintenance records. Every time maintenance is performed, whether it is routine or emergency, the service should be logged. Logs create a paper trail of maintenance and can be used to analyze the generator’s performance over time. Along with the actions taken at each inspection or repair, the generator’s readings and parameters should be recorded along with the hour meter reading. If this data is recorded every time, the inspector will be able to notice abnormal changes in the readings, which could indicate a performance issue.

    Protect Your Power Supply With Help From Critical Power

    As with most pieces of machinery, a little preventative maintenance goes a long way. When the maintenance is tied to the power capabilities of your facility, the benefits far outweigh the costs. You can rest easy knowing your generator will work properly when you need it and that you can head off unexpected – and typically expensive – repairs.

    To learn more about generators or to find a genset for your facility contact Critical Power Exchange at 877-315-4176 or visit us online at www.criticalpower.com.


  5. Preventative Maintenance Tip: Load Bank Testing

    March 5, 2015 by mvadmin
    Preventative Maintenance Tip: Load Bank Testing

    One of the most important preventative maintenance actions for generators is regular load bank testing. Generators must be able to provide reliable power during emergency situations, but if they are only providing that power during emergencies, how do you know the generator is working properly or can handle the demands a total loss of power will place on it?

    That’s where load bank testing comes in. This test not only helps ensure the generator will actually perform when needed, it also tests the generator’s load capacity. That is, it tests the highest possible load the generator might have to handle during a power outage.

    What You Need To Know About Load Bank Testing

    Generator load bank testing requires a physical examination and assessment of the equipment. This is a basic examination to make sure everything is working properly and safely. Then, special equipment called a load bank is used to test the power generating capabilities of the generator. By placing artificial loads on the generator, it can be tested at its full kW rating and its performance can be evaluated.

    Most generators don’t ever have to operate at their full kW rating, which is why load testing is so necessary. Without the test, you have no way of knowing if the generator can handle the power demands and sustain the necessary pressure levels without overheating. Gensets that are used infrequently benefit the most from load bank tests, but every genset should undergo load bank testing annually.

    The only thing you need to conduct a load bank test is a load bank machine and time.

    What Happens During A Load Bank Test

    During a load bank test, artificial load is placed on the generator. Gradually, at timed intervals, the kW load is increased and critical engine parameters are measured. Eventually, the generator will be running at full power and full temperature. Other performance indicators that are observed include the machine’s ability to handle boost and its ability to function at the highest load possible for sustained periods of time.

    Benefits Of Load Bank Testing

    Verify generator and genset capabilities at full load.

    Can detect problems early, preventing expensive breakdowns and repairs.

    Cleans out the exhaust system, soot and carbon deposits.

    Ensures proper operation of cooling systems.

    At Critical Power Exchange, we perform load tests on every new, used, or surplus generator we sell so you know your genset will be able to provide the power you need when you need it most. Learn more about our generator sales and service by calling 877-315-4176 or completing our contact form.


  6. What's An Automatic Transfer Switch?

    March 2, 2015 by mvadmin
    What's An Automatic Transfer Switch?

    Automatic Transfer Switches (ATS) are an integral part of new and used generator sets. These control mechanisms automatically sense dips in or loss of power. They cue the standby generator to start up when power hits a certain low voltage level.

    What Does An Automatic Transfer Switch Do?

    Automatic Transfer Switches shift power from the main power grid to the backup source of power. Under normal operations, power comes in to the facility from the utility grid. When this power goes out or is cut, it’s time for the generator to kick in. ATS systems make this switch automatically, ensuring the facility receives near-continuous power even if there is a problem with the grid. In other systems, the transfer must be done manually, which can create gaps in power, particularly if the power loss occurs outside of normal operating hours.

    How Does It Work?

    The control panel is really the brains behind the ATS. The control panel senses power failure based on the incoming voltage and frequency. If the voltage coming in is not enough to meet a preset threshold, the control panel activates the generator. Once the generator reaches those preset thresholds of voltage and frequency, the panel completes the switch in power from the main line to the generator. This precaution ensures the generator is fully functional and able to accept the load demands that will be required.

    Control panels are more complex than simple sensors. In addition to frequency and voltage, you can set a time delay so that the ATS does not switch over immediately, but waits a few seconds. This eliminates any false starts that might be caused by momentary dips or glitches in the power supply, but is still short enough that operations can be maintained if a power transfer is needed. Time delays work the opposite way too, delaying the switch from generator to primary power until the load is fully stable.

    Should You Install An Automatic Transfer Switch?

    If you have critical business operations that must remain up and running 24/7, then without a doubt you need an ATS. If your facility is subject to frequent blackout or brownouts or you need to use your back-up generator frequently you should have an ATS. If you do not have the personnel available to turn a manual transfer switch on and off when needed, then you should get an ATS.

    Learn More About Automatic Transfer Switches For Generators

    If you need help sizing an Automatic Transfer Switch for your new or used generator, contact Critical Power Exchange at 877-315-4176. We can help you find the right generator and accessories for your power demands.


  7. Safely Storing Fuel For Generators

    February 26, 2015 by mvadmin
    Safely Storing Fuel For Generators

    Generators provide power when it is not available from the electrical grid. That means you’ll need an external fuel source stored nearby so you can power up the generator when necessary. Since generator fuel is flammable and can contaminate soil and water there are certain safety concerns surrounding fuel tanks.

    Types Of Fuel Tanks

    Fuel must be stored in specially designed tanks to prevent leakage, spills, and fires. There are three primary types of fuel tanks used with generators:

    •    Sub Base Tanks fit above the ground but below the base of the generator set. They are a good option if you are storing less than 1,000 gallons of fuel on-site.
    •    Underground Storage Tanks are used if more than 1,000 gallons must be stored. These tanks are the most expensive to install and repair, but they also last the longest. The tanks are surrounded by concrete to protect the surrounding area from leaks and spills.
    •    Above Ground Storage Tanks are also used to store more than 1,000 gallons. The biggest concern with above ground tanks is flammability. These tanks must be installed at a minimum distance from facilities to prevent the spread of fire if it breaks out.

    Safety Features

    Several safety features are built into tanks or must be added when the tanks are installed in order to minimize hazards like fire or contamination from spills and leaks. Features include:

    • Double-wall construction.
    • Heavy-gauge, corrosion-protected steel or fiberglass reinforced tanks.
    • Piping and fitting attachments to control fuel supply and return, ventilation, pressure and fuel alarms.
    • Installation at minimum distances from other structures.
    • Dikes built around the tanks to help contain spills and leaks.
    • Protection from the elements for sub-base and aboveground tanks.
    • Protection against ground and water contamination is needed for underground tanks.
    • Approval for installation must be obtained from the State Fire Marshall. This applies to large commercial or industrial generators as well as domestic generators and small business generators.
    • Safety and Fire Codes must be followed during manufacturing and installation of generator fuel tanks.

    Learn More About Generator And Fuel Tank Safety From Critical Power Exchange

    Contact the experts at Critical Power Exchange for advice on safely storing fuel for your backup or prime generator. Our team can assess your generator needs, recommend an appropriate fuel tank, and advise on its safe installation.


  8. Portable Vs. Stationary Generators – Which One Do You Need?

    February 23, 2015 by mvadmin
    Portable Vs. Stationary Generators – Which One Do You Need?

    Both portable and stationary generators both provide electrical power to homes and businesses, which keeps things up and running when other power sources are unavailable. But they are two different machines, intended for use in different situations. If you’re in the market for a new or used generator, use this quick reference guide to determine which type of generator will best meet your needs.

    Portable Generators

    While the name implies that these generators can be moved and relocated as need dictates, they are not intended for permanent installation or long-term use, but rather as a standby-by or back-up power source. Portable generators are best used for:

    • Temporary, stand-alone applications.
    • Run times of less than 12 hours.
    • Power requirements of between 500w and 17.5kW.
    • Powering critical appliances in residential situations.
    • Providing power for small applications where there is no access to a local power grid such as construction sites, campgrounds, and farms.

    Portable units are small enough to house in a camper, trailer, or garage when not in use. They provide power via extension cords and should be moved outside before being turned on so that there is plenty of air to cool the engine and keep it well ventilated. They run on many different types of fuels. Depending on the model, they can run on diesel, biodiesel, gasoline, propane, or natural gas.

    Stationary Generators

    Stationary generators are more rugged, durable, and long-lasting than portable generators and provide higher power outputs. Stationary generators are best used:

    • With very high power requirements.
    • When power is needed for more than 12 hours at a time.
    • To maintain critical business or operational systems.
    • To provide site-wide power for businesses, hospitals, factories, and other large-scale commercial operations.

    Unlike portable generators, stationary generators are hard-wired into the main power panel. There is no need for extension cords to get power to critical systems because the generator feeds power directly into the main electrical system. These generators may be started up manually or automatically via an automatic transfer switch (ATS). The ATS signals the generator to start or stop operation, depending on the input received from the power grid/power lines. They run on the same fuel types as portable generators, but require a permanent connection to an on-site fuel tank.

    Choosing A Generator

    You’ll need to examine your power needs to determine whether you should buy a portable or stationary generator. Do not be swayed by price alone. Portable units are less expensive than stationary units, but they also aren’t as powerful or long-running. On the flip side, stationary units can be out of the price range of many smaller businesses.

    For a complete evaluation of your power generation needs, contact Critical Power Exchange at 877-315-4176. Our team would be happy to discuss your situation and walk you through your options.


  9. Biodiesel Fuel and Generators

    February 19, 2015 by mvadmin
    Biodiesel Fuel and Generators

    As the search continues to find alternatives to traditional fossil fuels, biodiesel fuel is garnering attention as a viable option. While this renewable energy source may not be quite ready for widespread commercial use, it has proven to be remarkably effective in certain applications involving diesel generators.

    All About Biodiesel

    Biodiesel fuels are made from various types of vegetable oils. Interestingly, biodiesel fuel was first developed by Rudolf Diesel, the inventor of the diesel engine. Way back in 1895, Diesel saw a need for alternatives to fossil fuels and found a way to use readily available agricultural crops to create fuel.

    There are two ways vegetable oil can be used as fuel:

       Straight vegetable oils can be used if the engines can handle the higher viscosity. Vegetable oil is thicker than conventional diesel so engines must be designed to handle that extra thickness if the oil is unprocessed.

       Oil that has been processed as biodiesel reduces viscosity, making it suitable for conventional diesel engines. Once processed, this fuel can be used as the engine’s primary fuel source.

    Pros And Cons Of Biodiesel

    As with any fuel source, there are pros and cons to using biodiesel.

    Pros:

    • Renewable energy source.
    • Can be made from waste/used vegetable oil.
    • Less polluting emissions than conventional fuels.
    • Better lubricating properties than conventional diesel reduces wear and tear on engines.

    Cons:

    • Low consumer demand means few options exist for using biodiesel.
    • Technical hurdles exist for using biodiesel extensively.
    • Lack of industry standards makes it hard to evaluate fuel performance and processing differences. 
    • Distribution limitations.

    Using Biodiesel Fuel In Generators

    One application where the advantages of using biodiesel fuel tend to outweigh the disadvantages is with diesel power generators. Diesel generators provide reliable off-grid power in areas where there is no power grid and sometimes no easy access to a fossil fuel source. These generators run day and night, putting a lot of strain on the engine. Biodiesel can be safely stored for use in these engines and the heavier viscosity of the fuel can help keep the engine lubricated, reducing maintenance and repair needs. Even generators that provide stand-by power are good candidates for biodiesel. Since standby generators are typically used in developed areas the fact that they are less polluting than traditional diesel generators is a huge benefit.

    Learn More About Diesel Generators At Critical Power Exchange

    Biodiesel fuel is making gains as a viable, sustainable source of fuel. Using the fuel in generators can be cost-effective, promote the biodiesel industry and technology, encourage investment in renewable sources of energy, provide reliable power without the pollution, and help meet the world’s ever-increasing energy demands.

    Contact Critical Power Exchange to learn more about diesel generators and power supply solutions.


  10. Used Generators are Perfect for Portable Power

    February 11, 2015 by mvadmin
    Used Generators are Perfect for Portable Power

    Used generators are a great choice for dependable, portable power. Mobile generators go where you need them, when you need them. You can find models that run on diesel, propane, or natural gas, offering consumers plenty of options in portable power.

    Where to Use a Portable Generator

    The beauty of portable generators is that they can be used anywhere – at home, at work, at the cabin, or on the road. They are most commonly used for:

    • Backup power. Many businesses buy portable generators for backup or emergency power particularly if they don’t need to keep their entire operation up and running during a power outage. Portable generators are an excellent way to keep a few critical systems going, eliminating the need to buy a larger, more expensive solution.
    • Sites with no electricity. Portable generators are commonly used in field operations or at construction sites that don’t yet have electrical service hooked up. They are used to power lights, AC-powered power tools, heaters, and more.

    Advantages of Used Generators

    Portable used generators have several advantages over new generators, the biggest being cost-savings. Surplus or used generators will always cost less than new generators. They’ll also be readily available. With new generators, you may have to place an order and then wait for them to be built. Buying used avoids this problem.

    Don’t discount used generators simply because they bear the “used” label. Since portable power is often used as backup power, even decades old generators can run like new. Many used generators have very few hours on them, making them seem much newer than they actually are.

    Buy Used Generators At Critical Power Exchange

    At Critical Power Exchange we buy and sell surplus and used generators. After inspection, testing, and necessary repairs are made to the generators, we place them for sale. We have several used generators available right now. Visit our inventory page to find the right generator for your purposes or contact us for helping making a choice.

    Visit our website at www.criticalpower.com to learn more about surplus and used generators.