The engines in industrial generators are designed to operate under varying loads depending on your unique requirements. The load can range from maximum to minimum load. Industrial diesel generators are expected to run at a minimum of 60% load to make sure it works at maximum efficiency. There’s the risk that if you run your generator below this recommended capacity that you will underload the generator. Industrial generators that run on loads that are too low can end up malfunctioning. Once we get to this point, you’ll have to pay for expensive generator repairs, but this is easily avoidable if you speak to the right person about the correct load usage for your generator. Load testing is an effective way to handle this among other regular general maintenance procedures. Many businesses in Queensland have to rely on industrial generators and these can include construction sites, festivals, camping sites, sporting arenas and hotels, which require uninterrupted and high volumes of power, they also are regularly found on. To maintain uninterrupted standby power, you need to be aware of what underload is and why it’s harmful. 

Other than obvious generator servicing tips like keeping the engines well-oiled and maintained, you need to avoid under and overloading your generator. A generator with sufficient capacity that has been installed for your specific application will probably be able to comfortably run at 100% load for some time. The bigger risk is actually running a generator at low or no load. 

What will happen if I underload my generator?

You must have your generator installed by a licensed electrician according to the Queensland Government because it ensures that every installation is done professionally. Even though all industrial generators will vary from site to site, there’s a general acceptance that they can run at a minimum of 30% of capacity. This is the absolute minimum and far from ideal load capacity for safe and efficient use. The acceptable maximum load capacity is at 60-75%. The consequences of low or underloading your generator can include:

1. Lower efficiency

High cylinder pressure is integral to the proper working of the generator engine. When a generator is being run at a low load, the cylinder pressure will reduce drastically and result in poor combustion which basically means that the machine will be much less efficient. A less efficient machine will create more soot than usual and unburned fuel will clog the system.

2. Higher emissions

Generators working at low loads are more susceptible to temperature damage. The engines will cool down to a temperature lower than usual and run at a temperature insufficient for proper energy generation. This can cause the burning of fuel and burnt fuel makes much more exhaust smoke which is dangerously high in hydrocarbon emissions. You can tell that your generator is suffering from this effect by white smoke coming out of the exhaust which is a symptom of poorly operating diesel engines. Even if you don’t know if you are running your generator at a low load, you should already be scheduling hot weather generator servicing to make sure that the elements aren’t negatively affecting your generator.

3. Poor oil performance and higher oil consumption

Underloading your generator will also negatively affect the oil distribution system. The oil won’t be working at the right temperatures or at its manufacturer design of performance and that means that it will burn faster than it should. The oil that burns quickly needs to be replaced quickly and that isn’t normal for any engine, never mind a generator in industrial size and capacity. Unburned fuel can also contaminate the lubricating oil, it can do this exactly the same way that condensed water and residue do, which will cause a destructive acid to build up.

Signs that your generator is being underloaded

All of the above-mentioned consequences of loading but there are also effects that you will notice in how you use it. You are likely to notice that there are strange unexplained power losses and frequent incidents of poor performance. Naturally, the inefficiency will wear on the system over time and even corrode some of the parts in the engine. Eventually, you can expect certain parts to fail, one after the other, resulting in the need for more unplanned generator maintenance and increased downtime. Regularly running generators at low or no load will, without a doubt, eventually result in total generator failure.

How to prevent underloading my generation?

Based on how you use your industrial generator, you may need to underload the unit at some point or another. As long as you don’t do this frequently or for prolonged times, it shouldn’t damage your generator that the point that it completely fails and need a serious repair or replacement job. Keep low load operations at a time that doesn’t exceed 15 minutes but if you aim to stay on low load generator supply you need to contact a professional about how you can do so on safe low load operation values and durations. After low load operations, you should also aim to put your generator on with an increased load for a short period to raise temperature and pressure. It’s also important that you invest in load bank testing at least once a year, more frequently for primary generator use, where a professional electrician will run it for several hours at different loads to eliminate all deposits. 

Why generator maintenance is important?

Generators that are properly run and maintained will never leave you without power regardless of availability from the grid or of the performance constraints it’s required to meet. All you need to do is maintain a good relationship with your local electrician in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Ipswich, and Sunshine Coast. This will make sure that we keep up with the health of your unit so that it provides uninterrupted power and protection of sensitive equipment from power surges and fluctuations.