Generator Maintenance and Information

What Is The Difference Between Standby, Prime, and Continuous Power?

By January 22, 2018 November 5th, 2019 No Comments

Buying an electrical generator takes a lot of research to ensure you end up with a machine that will provide you with the power you need when you need it. One crucial part of that research is the power rating of the generators. The power rating is established by the manufacturer and lets consumers know what kinds of applications are suitable for the generator or how much it can be used.

You’ll find power ratings of Standby, Prime, and Continuous. It’s important to choose the right rating to make sure the generator can provide enough power with enough frequency to meet your demands. This can also help you avoid overpaying for more capacity/capabilities than you need.

Standby Power Generators

Standby power generators are by far the most common. That makes sense given that these are back-up or emergency generators. Most of the U.S. is connected to the local power grid and won’t need to use a standby generator unless electrical power is unavailable for some reason. The most important thing to understand about standby generators is that they are designed to be run for a limited amount of time as a standalone machine. They don’t have any overload capacity and should never be run in conjunction with the local grid power.

Prime Power Generators

Prime power generators are used when power is not available from the local utility. These types of generators fall into two categories: Indefinite and Limited run times.

Indefinite running time means the generator can be safely run at maximum power and variable load for an unlimited number of hours each year. However, there may be restrictions on load based on how many hours each year the unit is needed to run.

Limited running time means the unit can provide maximum power for a limited number of hours at variable loads. A good example of when to use limited run time generators is during a planned power outage. In general, these types of generators are limited to 750 hours of run time per year. If needs are greater than 750 hours, a continuous power rated generator is a better choice.

Continuous Power Generators

These types of generators are run, as you can probably guess by the name, continuously. They supply power constantly at 100% load capacity for an unlimited number of hours every year. You’ll find these generators at remote sites where there isn’t a local power grid such as: mining, agriculture, and military operations.

Contact Critical Power Products & Services For Help Choosing An Electrical Generator

The power rating is just one component in choosing an electrical generator. You’ll also need to factor in location fuel source, size, and genset components. Make sure you get the right generator for your application needs by contacting Critical Power Products & Services. We carry surplus and used diesel generators, natural gas generators, propane generators, enclosures, and more to bring power to many different industries.

Browse our inventory online or contact us at 877-359-0752 to discuss your needs.