Follow our commercial generator-maintenance tips to keep your unit happy
- A site-specific model will last longer than an “off-the-rack” selected unit
- Positioning makes all the difference between a thriving generator and one that’s a liability
- Your generator needs to be shielded from Mother Nature
- A regularly tested unit will perform more reliably than a neglected one
- An experienced maintenance partner extends your generator’s life
It’s easy to take commercial generators for granted. Floridians tend not to notice how hard their generator works until the lights go out. They then go right back to forgetting it even exists once the power crisis is averted.
Here’s the thing: even when your generator isn’t on active duty it still faces performance-killing risks. This guide will cover four steps to better commercial-generator maintenance that will also help protect your people, processes, and profits.
1. Select the model thoughtfully
Imagine how short a generator’s lifespan will be if it’s too small for the job. The little guy will fizzle faster than disco and burn your business badly in the process. Choosing the correct generator for your commercial space means weighing factors like square footage, wattage consumption, and how much extra power may be needed during peak usage.
Pick a generator that can handle your business’ critical vs non-critical loads. Noting these core details will help you select a sufficiently buff backup that can shoulder any power demands — assuming you follow the other tips on this list, of course.
2. Position it perfectly
Your generator won’t celebrate many birthdays if it’s poorly situated. “What do you mean the wrong place? We just park it outside or in its own room, right?” Well, yes, but actually no. Indoor and outdoor generators must be positioned to:
- Allow for optimal airflow
- Minimize noise disruption to the site and surrounding environment
- Be free of natural or man-made obstructions
- Avoid any smoke or fumes it produces being breathed in by anybody in the vicinity
Even the smallest sites should follow national and regional safety codes to give their commercial generator the comfiest life possible.
3. Defend it devotedly
Harsh environmental conditions can kill commercial generators. An unprotected unit won’t last long if it’s frequently exposed to wind, rain, or debris. In Florida, that occurs on any day with a “y” in it. One flash flood, for example, and a unit that’s not sufficiently elevated is kaput.
Also, you also can’t place a unit anywhere near combustible materials. One spark, and your generators could be history. And so could your business. Don’t just take our word for it: the National Electrical Code NFPA 70, Chapter 4, Article 445.14 states that “any generator operating at more than 50V to ground shall not be exposed to accidental contact where accessible to unqualified persons.”
Call the power pros at UES to position your unit where it won’t:
- Suffocate your staff or the public
- Be shut down by authorities
- Be vulnerable to being uprooted
Keeping your commercial generator healthy does the same for your business, staff, and community.
4. Maintain it marvelously
This is the one area on our list where generators meeting their maker is actually a good thing. By that we mean checking the manufacturer’s manual for the ideal maintenance schedule. A generator invigorated by regular testing is likely to perform much better than a neglected unit that’s pressed into service during emergencies.
Remember Chapter 4, Article 445? It says it violates national electrical codes if your generator isn’t positioned to allow for easy maintenance access. This means a unit in good working condition could be deactivated if the tech can’t verify it.
Some degree of visual inspection would be possible, such as looking for casing cracks or warping, debris, or smoke. However, visual inspection alone won’t appease the authorities. Requires steps include:
- Fluid changes: Coolants, oils, and fuels are vital components for commercial generators. Regularly topping up their levels, or making fluid changes if they’ve been in there too long, will ensure the unit will run smoothly.
- Replace worn parts: Outer casings. Hoses. Fans. Pumps. Engine belts. Alternators. A long list of parts makes up a commercial generator and every one of them has an expiration date. Their lifespans can be significantly reduced if the unit is heavily used or enduring environmental stresses. Regular inspections will replace worn parts before they cause bigger problems.
- Filter changes – Commercial generators use either fixed or disposable filters, which are both highly vulnerable to debris and fine-particulate matter. Even a small buildup of either could hamper a filter and lead to airflow disruptions. Make filter changes or clean-ups a priority; your generator will breathe more easily.
Commercial-generator maintenance keeps a well-selected, well-positioned unit running strongly. It may seem like an attractive financial move to skip this expense. Remember: the cost of regular checkups is much less than having to make extensive repairs, suffering lost profits from reduced productivity, or paying out medical expenses and/or lawsuits triggered by related injuries (or worse).
Speak to our electrical experts with any questions
Calling the power pros at UES is the best way to prevent your commercial generator from popping its clogs. We’re a maintenance partner that brings decades of electrical and generator experience to your site. Reach out to us to get a free quote on any commercial, industrial, or residential project!