Owning a backup generator for your home is a great idea. It can save you a lot of trouble if you happen to lose power for an extended period of time, and you have a handy power source if you need it for a camping trip. However, a generator is a complex piece of machinery, and like all machinery it needs to be maintained if you want it to work properly. Most of this maintenance comes down to diligence and common sense, but it’s still easy to forget about it if you go months or even years without using your generator.
Whether you keep it around for emergencies or you use it regularly on camping trips and special events, here are some tips that will help you take care of your generator.
Pay Attention to Wattage Ratings
Every backup generator will have two wattage ratings. The first is the “rated” or “continuous” watts. This is the most power that a generator will put out for an extended length of time. Meanwhile, the “maximum” or “starting” rating represents the amount of energy a generator will put out during the few seconds it takes for the motor to start up. Many people confuse these to ratings at their peril. They often buy a generator thinking that it will run continuously at the “maximum” rating. This is a really good way to completely ruin a generator. When in doubt, be conservative with your generator. Pushing it too hard will ruin it.
Keep Oil and Filters Handy
The most popular home generator is the kind that runs on a small gas engine. Like any engine, you will need to change the oil regularly. Your first oil change should come after you’ve run your generator for 25 hours. After that, you should change the oil every 50 to 60 hours of operation. Filters should also be changed as well to keep the engine running smoothly. This means that you should keep enough oil and filters on hand to last for at least a few days. You probably won’t be able to run all over town to find some extra engine oil during this time; assume you will be stuck at home.
Change Out Your Fuel Often
Fuel can go bad if it is left in an engine for too long. In fact, it is the number one cause of all generator startup problems. You can minimize problems such as fuel breakdown and gum buildup by mixing a fuel stabilizer to your gas, but that isn’t guaranteed to fix your problem. The best way to stop this problem before it even begins is to empty your fuel tank and carburetor once storm season has passed and refill it with fresh, stabilized fuel.
Backfeeding with a home generator is dangerous and illegal, yet people do it all the time. There are several tutorials online telling you how to do it, but doing so can destroy a generator and even kill people. A generator should only be used to keep the lights on and keep a refrigerator running during emergencies. It shouldn’t be used to power all of your appliances with extension cords. Stay safe, and stay conservative when you have to rely on your generator.
This article was contributed by Logan Kelso, a writer who hopes to educate and entertain you. He writes this on behalf of Workhorse Power, a leading provider of Waukesha gas engine parts. Check out their website today and see how they can help you!