A cold scenario for any business: It’s a cold winter morning with snow and ice accumulating, and the power goes out. No concern – you have an automatic standby generator. You wait for the generator to restore power to your facility, but nothing happens. You call a generator service company to inspect the generator, and when the technician arrives he discovers the issue – low coolant temperature; the engine block heater was not in working condition. Unfortunately, by the time the issue is resolved, several hours have passed and your productivity has been frozen.
This scenario could apply to any liquid-cooled generator for a business, home, or any facility requiring back-up power. The engine was cold, and the result is a standby system that couldn’t perform when needed. One of the best methods to ensure a generator set starts easily and quickly is to keep the engine warm by using an engine block heater.
Engine block heaters are normally supplied and installed as a generator package accessory. For some generator models, this could be a factory-installed accessory, and for others, it may be an optional price-adder that the buyer can choose at the time of purchase. Block heaters are typically used in environments where the generator is subject to ambient temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius). They add reliability to the generator system by preheating the water jacket coolant of the engine and maintaining a warm temperature, thus assisting the engine start cycle for rapid, easy ‘on-line’ performance.
This is especially important for generator applications where the unit is powering critical loads. In cases where an electrical power outage could seriously disrupt critical processes or put the safety of people at risk, the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) requires that standby generators be heated as necessary to ensure the system will start and carry the full emergency loads within ten seconds after loss of primary power from the utility service.
There are also many added benefits of using engine block heaters beyond ensuring that the generator will start and accept load quickly.
- They reduce engine wear by quickly lubricating critical moving parts during the start cycle.
- They can save fuel because it is not necessary to keep the engine idling to maintain proper starting temperature.
- Cold engines can take a considerable time to crank-up, during which time the starter batteries can become heavily discharged.
- Exhaust emissions can be reduced at the point of engine start because engines are designed to emit lower emissions at their operational temperature.
- Keeping the engine warmer than the surrounding ambient temperature significantly reduces condensation in the engine sump.
When used with a standby generator system, an engine block heater can increase the reliability of your system and help ensure you won’t be left in the cold.
Contact Clifford Power Systems to schedule a service inspection on your generator system to prevent untimely equipment failures.