Back up generators are a peculiar breed of heavy machinery. You don’t want to have to use them – except to test them. The ideal scenario also means you need to spend more time ensuring you’re working with clean fuel – and filtering and purifying the fuel in back up generators requires time and resources. Clean fuel will ensure that your generator runs like it should, but contaminated fuel can cause malfunctions or even destroy your generator.
- Back Up Generators and Fuel Shelf Life
Nearly all of the issues with fuel quality and generator degradation occur because of time. Check out our post on Mission Critical Backup Power. Think about it: unlike continuous generators supplying a primary source of power, emergency or standby generators may experience long lulls in service. For many operations, regular testing is the only action that standby generators experience. It may sound odd, but the more reliable your primary power generation equipment runs, and the more consistent loads it supports, the greater lengths you’ll need to take to ensure your fuel and equipment runs cleanly. That’s because the fuel in your back up generators will sit stagnant, and it only takes a few weeks for condensation to form and seep in. This water accelerates the growth of microbiological materials at the bottom of the fuel tank, which can breed contamination and form damaging sludge. Sludge is known for taking out engine filters, as well as causing clogs and leaks. Another issue to worry about is carbon particulate formation, which also speeds up fuel contamination. All of these issues, over time, lead to inefficient generator runtime and the breakdown of equipment.
- Filtering and Purifying Fuel for Back Up Generators
The good news about fuel degradation is that operations managers have several options to choose from to ensure they’re running clean. One option is to hire a third party to come on site and regularly filter the fuel and clean the tank. This can become costly over time, however, and investing in onsite purification equipment is the more cost-effective alternative. Offline fuel conditioning systems, for example, can counteract contamination in real time to keep back up generators in peak condition much longer.
If you noticed that your back up generators aren’t operating at maximum efficiency or if you see dark colored fuel, smell a funky odor, or see dark exhaust emitting from your generator, it’s time to take action. Standby generators that sit stagnant often require more maintenance than those called on regularly to make sure they’re reliable if they’re ever needed.
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