Advise on how to optimize your generator purchase

Cummins Emergency Generator Training


Natural Gas on the Rise

Cleaner fuel options, such as natural gas or renewable energy sources (biodiesel, biomass, etc.), have recently come in high demand. These cleaner types of fuel sources can provide much needed energy during peek power demand, or provide a backup/standby power supply, while the installation and use will receive less opposition from environmental groups and neighboring residents. Natural gas power generator is the least polluting of its kind, as natural gas as a fossil fuel doesn’t emit as much harmful gases into our atmosphere. Experts agree that natural gas emits the lowest carbon footprint as compared to other fossil fuels by about thirty percent.

Natural gas has quickly become the United States first choice when it comes to new power plants. Although coal and nuclear energy were the fuel sources of choice in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, natural gas has been used quite extensively over the past decade. In fact, in 2000, 95% of all power added to the national grid was fired from natural gas.

Additional Pro’s

Natural gas gensets have the added advantage of being easy to install and permit. They are also relatively inexpensive to purchase, operate, and maintain. In fact, installed natural gas gensets can provide some of the cheapest electricity available when compared with other sources in applications that operate more than 500 hours annually. The U.S. Department of Energy has acknowledged the fact that these engines are amongst the lowest cost energy options available. The technology surrounding natural gas power generators is also advancing to allow for increases in engine efficiency, reduced maintenance, and lower emission levels. They perform very well under intermittent load conditions, the parts and service technicians are widely available, and they can be paralleled with numerous generators to meet almost any power demand.

Compared to Diesel and Propane

The Cummins Westport line of spark ignited natural gas engines are based on the Cummins diesel platform, and share diesel life and durability. They achieve optimal performance while using clean burning alternative fuels. Spark Ignited like a gasoline engine, but operating with much leaner air/fuel mixture, the result is a tremendous emissions advantage with the diesel-like power and torque needed for heavy duty applications, such as a refuse truck or bus.

With diesel fuel being the safest, the question has arisen as to which natural gas or propane take the place of the second safest generator fuel source. Both propane and natural gas come in a canister, making them easy to confuse. People tend to prefer propane because it is cheaper, not because it is more effective or safer.

Unlike diesel and propane, natural gas has an inoffensive odor. Natural gas’ canisters usually contain methane, a byproduct of the production of petroleum. This byproduct is then stripped of its impurities to ensure that it works effectively. The result is a clean and odorless natural gas. An odor additive is then mixed in so that people can be notified if the methane is leaking. Otherwise, a room could be filled with methane without anyone knowing and might explode with just a small spark. By taking this precaution, natural gas remains a relatively safe fuel source for generators.



What is a Diesel Generator?

A diesel generator is the combination of a diesel engine with an electrical generator to generate electrical energy. Diesel generator sets are used:

  • In places without connection to the power grid
  • As emergency power-supply if the grid fails
  • For more complex applications such as peak-lopping, Grid Support and export to the power grid

Sizing of diesel generators is critical to avoid low-load or a shortage of power and is complicated by modern electronics, specifically non-linear loads.

A diesel engine is a heavier duty product designed for work in industrial, automotive, and truck applications. This is because diesel generators outlast gasoline generators when performing the same amount of work, accomplishing the same workload without burning as much fuel as a gas generator. The reason for this is that diesel engines take in only air at the beginning of the cycle, compressing it and then injecting fuel into that compressed air. The heat of the compressed air lights the fuel spontaneously. So diesel engines operate with compression ignition (no spark plugs). The compression of fuel and air is at a much higher compression ratio, which results in better efficiency and higher power. 


The most common type of electrical power generator is fueled by diesel.  It is the fuel of choice for heavy industrial equipment of all types because, compared to other fuel options, it has:

  • High power density
  • Availability (easiest to obtain during emergencies)
  • Few odors 
  • Safety (less of a flammable or explosive risk)
  • Inexpensiveness 

There is very low maintenance costs associated with the use of the diesel generators. This is due to the fact that the diesel generators lack the presence of spark plugs and carburetors, so there are no spark plugs to replace and no carburetors to rebuild. The major maintenance required on the diesel generator is the oil change. If this is done regularly, a diesel generator lasts a very long time without any major maintenance required. The diesel generator will last 30,000 hours on average without requiring a major overhauling.


Diesel can be very noisy and this is considered to be a great downfall of the diesel system. This is usually one of the reasons homeowners tend to opt for gasoline generators. The gasoline generator is much less noisy than the diesel generator and therefore there is no need for the generator to be placed far away from houses. There are other options available now such as soundproof enclosures that can assist with this issue. 

Another consideration is the initial costs involved in setting up the diesel generator. This is usually quite a bit higher than the gasoline generator. It can be seen however that the diesel generator costs when compared over a few years is much less than the gasoline generator. 


This video describes the importance of determining the correct ventilation design for a power generation system in order to prevent substandard equipment performance and/or failure issues. 


Level One Generator Preventative Maintenance 
Performed as Needed 
(Monthly, Quarterly, or Semi-Annually)

Inspect for worn, broken or loose and necessary adjustments

Cooling System: 
Maintain proper collant level

Jacket Water Heater: 
Check and record blockage

Engine Crankcase: 
Check the oil level and add as necessary

Check for proper operation

Fuel System: 
Inspect for leaks and tank supply lines to engines

Maintain the electrolyte level

Inspect the condition of all gauges

Inspect for proper oil pressure and record readings

Start Engine: 
Run engine to standard operating temperature

Oil Pressure: 
Inspect for proper oil pressure and record reading

Fuel Pressure: 
Inspect for proper fuel pressure and record readings

Inspect for correct RPM/HZ, adjust as needed and record

Inspect for correct voltage, adjust as needed, and record

Leaks: Inspect and record leaks (oil, coolant, fuel, air, exhaust)

Level Two
Includes Complete Level One Inspection and…

Change and Service
All engine filters, drain and fill engine oil

Level Three

Includes Complete Level One and Level Two Inspection and…

Replace Batteries, Belts, Flexible Hoses, Coolant, and Radiator Cap

This chart illustrates the scope of preventative maintenance work as outlined by Global Power Supply 



A backup power system acts as an emergency insurance policy for a data center, a safeguard to protect the integrity of the data and the information that flows through it. In order to guarantee data center efficiency, the facility must never lose its source of backup power.

For this reason, reliability is the single most important aspect of a data center backup system. But unless the generator receives regular generator maintenance and equipment testing, even the most highly regarded backup system may fail during a data center outage. Providing backup power for your critical facilities means more than just supplying the equipment. Data center power generator maintenance is critical to avoid downtime in a data center environment.

For example, if a cooling system loses power and the backup power system is ineffectual, the data center will experience a temperature increase that can potentially threaten sensitive servers and other equipment. If a single computer room air conditioner (CRAC) unit shuts down on a hot day, you’re on a guaranteed road to trouble! It’s far better to perform regular maintenance on backup generators while regular power is running the CRAC than to go without air conditioning for days, or even weeks, in the hottest part of the year as the result of a failed generator.

Regular equipment testing and a well planned comprehensive preventive generator maintenance program will make sure data center efficiency is protected. Establish a preventive maintenance and equipment testing schedule and follow it consistently. There are a number of items to consider when performing generator maintenance.  

·      Maintenance must be carried out on a 6 month basis by a qualified and fully trained generator engineer

·      Ensure that only approved parts are used when repairing the generator

·      Keep all maintenance and repair records in a safe place readily available to the generator engineer

·      Report any irregularities (both visual and otherwise) immediately

·      All fuel, oil, water and other fluid levels to be kept full

·      Generator is never allowed to run out of fuel or oil whilst holding the load

·      Generator is never over-loaded and never allowed to run lightly loaded for long periods

·      Generator is run off load once every week for a 5 minute test

·      Generator is run with load once a month

By following these generator testing recommendations, your data center power will remain reliable, providing you and your company with much needed insurance. 



An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is an electrical apparatus that provides emergency backup power to a load when the input power source, typically the utility mains, fails. When a UPS circuit senses a loss of power, it produces electricity by means of one or two attached batteries within a few thousandths of a second. The primary role of a UPS is to provide short-term instantaneous power while the backup generator is launching, guaranteeing power never ceases in the case of input power interruptions.

A UPS is typically used to protect computers, data centers, telecommunication equipment and other electrical equipment where an unexpected power disruption could cause injuries, fatalities, serious business disruption, and/or data loss. In these scenarios, the efficiency of a company’s UPS is of pivotal importance. It is therefore highly recommended that backup power systems regularly undergo UPS maintenance to insure security in cases of potentially devastating power outages.

UPS Battery Maintenance

The most common cause of UPS failure is a defective UPS battery. As the heart of any UPS, the UPS battery requires inspection and maintenance regardless of its age or warranty status.

Preventative maintenance maximizes up-time and extends battery life, effectually eliminating UPS problems before they occur. Whether a battery fails from defect or deterioration, the best time to find out is during preventative UPS maintenance, not after the UPS has already failed to supply much needed power.