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Diesel Generator Maintenance
Having a well-designed and well-maintained standby power system is the best protection against utility power outages. According to the industry group Diesel Technology Forum, diesel-powered generators provide the most reliable form of emergency backup power, and can start/assuming full-rated load in less than 10 Sec. While backup generators typically can go 30,000 hr or more between major overhauls, even the best system needs to be exercised and maintained on a regular basis to make sure it operates properly when needed. When standby generators fail to start or perform as designed, it is usually due to faulty maintenance procedures or neglect. In fact, the top three reasons standby generators fail to automatically start or run are :
• The generator START switch was left in the OFF position instead of AUTO.
• Starting batteries were dead or insufficiently charged.
• The fuel filter was clogged due to old or contaminated fuel.
All of these common issues can be eliminated with a regular generator maintenance routine performed by properly trained personnel. Facilities with qualified in-house technical
personnel often can perform required preventive maintenance on diesel generators. Other facility managers prefer to contract with a local service provider or a power system distributor for regular maintenance service, especially if they have generators in multiple locations.
Following is a list of maintenance procedures that need to be performed on a regular basis. In addition to these checks, exercising the power system under load on a weekly or monthly basis ensures that the generator set and its system of controls and transfer switches is operating as designed.
Preventive maintenance of Diesel Generator
Because of the durability of diesel engines, most maintenance is preventive in nature and consists of the following operations:
• General inspection
• Lubrication service
• Cooling system service
• Fuel system service
• Servicing and testing starting batteries
• Regular engine exercise
It is generally a good idea to establish and adhere to a schedule of maintenance /service based on the specific power application and the severity of the environment. For example, if the generator set will be used frequently or subjected to extreme operating conditions, the recommended service intervals should be shortened accordingly. Some of the factors that can require more frequent maintenance include:
• Using the diesel generator set for continuous duty (prime power)
• Extreme ambient temperatures
• Exposure to weather
• Exposure to salt water
• Exposure to dust, sand, or other airborne contaminates
If the generator set will be subjected to some or all of these extreme operating conditions, it is best to consult with the engine manufacturer to develop an appropriate maintenance schedule. The best way to keep track of maintenance intervals is to use the running-time meter on the generator set to keep an accurate log of all services performed. This log also will be important for warranty support.
Advantages of a Diesel Engine Generator
The diesel engine generator is much more efficient and preferable as compared with gasoline engine due to the following reasons:
- Modern diesel engines have overcome disadvantages of earlier models of higher noise and maintenance costs. They are now quiet and require less maintenance as compared with gas engines of similar size.
- They are more rugged and reliable.
- There is no sparking as the fuel auto-ignites. The absence of spark plugs or spark wires lowers maintenance costs.
- Fuel cost per Kilowatt produced is thirty to fifty percent lower than that of gas engines.
- An 1800 rpm water cooled diesel unit operates for 12,000 to 30,000 hours before any major maintenance is necessary. An 1800 rpm water cooled gas unit usually operates for 6000-10,000 hours before it needs servicing.
- Gas units burn hotter than diesel units, and hence they have a significantly shorter life compared with diesel units.
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