A common question for new generator owners and anyone facing an emergency power outage ask is: “Can I run my generator continuously non-stop?” The answer is yes, but there are several qualifications for that answer.
Let us take a look at what precautions you’ll need to consider when using a portable power generator non-stop.
Can I Run My Generator Continuously?
The answer is yes as long as you stop it long enough to perform key tasks like adding fuel and performing maintenance. Always turn off the generator when you’re adding gasoline to minimize the risk of accidental ignition. Turn the generator off when you’re changing the spark plugs or the air filters.
Never let the generator run out of fuel. This won’t just hurt the generator itself. The associated power surges will damage any appliances connected to the generator when this happens.
Can I Run My Generator Non-Stop?
In some cases, the generator can draw from a natural gas line. In these cases, it seems to be able to run without every stopping. After all, it doesn’t need to be refueled. However, it still requires maintenance.
It should be shut down periodically to have the air filters changed. It needs to be shut down so it can be inspected for oil/lubrication leaks. In summary, the generator will need to be stopped periodically for key maintenance even if it doesn’t need fuel.
Yet this may equal half an hour of downtime for every 50 to 500 hours of runtime, depending on the unit.
How Often Do Generators Need to Be Stopped?
The fuel tank capacity for the generator determines how long it can run between refueling. The average fuel tank can only run for 8 to 12 hours before it runs out of fuel. Always turn off the generator before you add fuel.
This is a good time to check the coolant level, ideally after the generator has some time to cool off. This is the ideal time to check the radiator and clean it if necessary.
A diesel generator generally needs to be shut down in order to have the oil changed every 500 hours. This is a standard oil change interval, but check your user’s manual.
If your generator is wearing out, the oil may need to be changed more often. You should also turn off the generator at regular intervals to add oil. The oil level should be close to the full mark on the dipstick.
The oil filter should be replaced at the same time the oil is.
Fuel filters should be drained every few hundred hours of operation to remove the water vapor that otherwise condenses in the fuel tank. This is a good time to check for rust in the fuel tank.
Can Generators Be Run Continuously After a Long Period of Inactivity?
Generators should be regularly “exercised” or run every few months to prevent the lubricants and fuel in the system from gumming up the works. Ideally, you’ll change the oil and inspect the generator before turning it on.
Unfortunately, this may not be possible if you need to turn on the generator as soon as possible to provide power during an outage. In these cases, you can turn on the generator but should plan to do maintenance much sooner than normal.
What if you drained the generator of fuel and lubricants? The generator needs to have oil and fuel restored. Do a quick inspection for leaks or dirty air filters. The start it and let it run. The generator should run without issues until it needs additional fuel or hits another maintenance interval.
Why Else Might a Generator Need to Be Shut Down?
Generators should be shut down when the unit gets too hot. If it is smoking excessively or putting out enough carbon monoxide to trigger detectors, the unit needs to be turned off and troubleshot.
If the generator control board is giving you serious error codes such as electrical system warnings, turn it off.
What Might Prevent the Backup Generator from Running Continuously?
Loose or malfunctioning sensors may stall the generator though nothing is wrong. Weak and undercharged starting batteries will prevent the backup generator from starting in the first place. If the generator can’t get enough air, it will shut down.
This may be due to a clogged air filter, but it could happen because someone leaned something against the air intake, as well. Oil leaks can cause the generator to stop before the generator’s metal parts start rubbing against each other. A malfunctioning float could cause it to shut down though there is not actually a lack of oil.
Wrapping up: Using a Portable generator Non-Stop
Generators can run continuously as long as it has what it needs, be it fuel, air, oil or other key materials. Generators need to be shut down periodically for proper maintenance.
This may be less than 1 percent downtime, but these maintenance shutdowns are necessary to avoid damaging your generator or creating hazardous operating conditions.
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