What happens when you overload a generator?

What happens when you overload a generator?

Generators, like any other electrical supply device, is susceptible to problems from time to time. Like motor vehicles, generator maintenance is required every so often to ensure that a generator is ready and able to provide emergency power should the lights go out for whatever reason.

However, sometimes generators are installed without the correct pre-installation inspections. One reason these are so important is to prevent a generator overload – which happens more often than you’d think. This article will take a look at how generators get overloaded, what happens when overload occurs, and how to prevent overloading a generator:

How to overload a generator

Generator overloading occurs when there is too much load, or too many appliances and fixtures requiring power, than the generator in question can sufficiently handle in terms of wattage. Most generators are protected from overload damage with circuit breakers. Regardless, it’s easy to forget just how much power your building requires – and how this requirement changes as time goes on. For this reason, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your generator when you do use it, looking out for these tell-tale signs that a generator is struggling with your power demands:

Signs your generator is overloaded

– Overheating

The first sign that a generator might be struggling with overload is overheating. If your generator’s cooling fan is going flat-out, or you notice more heat coming off of the generator than usual, it might be overloaded and is working harder to provide the power you require.

– Power reduction

Another issue with generator overload is reduction in power output, which presents itself in a number of ways. Added to this, the generator might be working too hard for too little of an output, which will also greatly affect the generator’s ability to provide enough electricity.

– Soot in exhaust

Generator overload is also often caused by damaged or worn generator components not doing their jobs properly. A sure way to tell if this is the case is by looking at the generator’s exhaust pipe. Dark smoke is normal, but black soot residue after use is not.

How to prevent overloading a generator

– Correct installation

The first step to prevent generator overload is to ensure that your new generator is installed correctly – with all the necessary assessments that should be carried out by your generator installer. If you already have a generator in place, get the installation assessed by a third-party generator expert to make sure it was done properly and that it is suitable for your electrical requirements

– Planned maintenance

Secondly, as your power needs might change over time, prevent future generator overloading by ensuring that your generator is assessed and serviced on a regular basis. Consider getting generator professionals in once a year to inspect and service your generator, and re-test to make sure that the generator is still suitable for the building’s power needs.

Expert generator repairs & maintenance

S&A Generators does not install a generator until a thorough site inspection and load requirement assessment has been administered. This makes sure that the building requiring back-up power will have a generator with capacity sufficient enough to power everything needed – and this reduces the risk of ever overloading the generator. Chat to our expert team of generator specialists for any and all of your generator-related queries!

S&A Project: Diesel Generator Refilling in Escourt

S&A Project: Diesel Generator Refilling in Escourt

Load shedding, while easily managed when a business has a generator, can often cause major issues for South African businesses. Although, merely having a generator doesn’t mean a company’s load shedding woes are solved. We’ve seen many instances where a generator has been run for hours on end unsupervised, only to end up running out of fuel and becoming severely damaged. Refilling a generator before the fuel tank runs out is very important, which is why we are often called out to refill our clients’ generators. On 13 November 2019 we were called out to a client in Escourt who urgently needed a diesel generator refilling. Find out more about this project below:

The Problem

Due to long spells of load shedding occurring regularly in Escourt, KwaZulu-Natal, our client was running their generator almost throughout the day, every day. What other option do you have as a business owner when the lights go out? Due to the long periods of operation, the generator’s diesel tank quickly depleted. Since larger generators have very big fuel tanks, it’s difficult for business owners to source the amount of diesel needed to fill them. That’s where diesel generator specialists like us come in.

An image respresenting S&A Project: Diesel Generator Refilling in Escourt

An S&A Generators diesel fuel tank at the back of one of our vehicles.

The Solution

S&A Generators answered the call, and immediately dispatched Blessing, our generator refill specialist, to the client in Escourt. He made sure that his tank had enough fuel for the diesel generator refill, and that the pump was operational, before hitting the road. Blessing noticed when arriving at the client’s premises that the generator was almost completely out of fuel.

diesel generator refilling - assessing the level of diesel in the diesel tank

The lid is opened so that the generator refiller can access the pump and assess the meter.

The first step in the diesel generator refilling process is to position the S&A Generators vehicle so that it is close enough to the generator for the pump to reach. Then, the pump’s pipe is pushed through a window and extended to the generator. Now the refilling process can begin!

diesel generator refilling - running diesel pump out of window

Blessing is running the pump and the pipe out of the vehicle’s window so that he can reach the generator.

This generator refill took a total of two hours, as the generator’s fuel tank was of a high capacity. Once the tank was filled up, all that was left to do was to ensure that the generator was set to auto and wish the satisfied client farewell.

diesel generator refilling - diesel pump meter

Here the diesel pump’s meter displays how much fuel is left and ready for use in refilling jobs.

Signs Your Generator Needs Maintenance

Signs Your Generator Needs Maintenance

If you’re operating a business in South Africa, you’ve more than likely been affected by the periodic load shedding that Eskom implements as and when required. Chances are you’ve even invested in a diesel generator to keep your business operations going when the power goes out. This blog article takes a look at seven signs your generator might need generator specialists to take a look – so that it functions when you need it most…

How to Tell If Your Generator Needs Repairs

1. Excessive Leaks

The first sign of a faulty backup generator is the easiest to spot. If you notice puddles of diesel or other fluids underneath your generator, there’s a serious problem. If the liquid is diesel (or whatever fuel your generator runs on) you run the risk of using up a lot of fuel in a short period of time, which will cost you. If the fluid is coolant, you run the risk of your generator overheating after a while of operation. Be sure to call a generator maintenance team as soon as your generator seems to have sprung a leak.

2. Issues when Starting

So, the lights have gone out and Eskom says you’re experiencing stage 3 load shedding. You go outside to get the backup generator started, but it’s spluttering and spitting before eventually starting up. This could be due to it not being started for a while, and might not be an issue at all. However, if your generator is slugging to get going every time you switch it on, this is a sign of something more serious.

3. Damaged Components

Before starting up your generator, take a walk around it and visually inspect the components. When the lights stay on for weeks and months at a time, a generator is forgotten. However, this neglect as it were often leads to components becoming caked in dust or sun damaged. Be sure to inspect your generator’s wires and cables for wear, and feel each nut and bolt to make sure they’re as tight as can be. If you notice a component that is clearly damaged, rather call in a generator specialist to take a look before activating it.

4. Excessive Smoke

Been a long while since you had to use your backup generator? Chances are there’ll be a few puffs of smoke coming out of the exhaust for the first few seconds of start-up. However, if the smoke doesn’t dissipate after a minute or two, there could be a serious underlying issue. If the smoke is black, it’s almost certainly a problem that will require attention from a professional. When smoking excessively, turn of your generator immediately to avoid causing any further damage.

5. Strange Noises

Most generators are extremely loud, and it might be hard to distinguish between the normal noises a generator makes and other uncommon sounds that could indicate issues. We always recommend listening carefully to your generator when it’s in operation, and if you hear any metal-on-metal noises, or rattles that seem to be getting louder, get the number of a generator professional and let them take a look.

6. High Fuel Usage

When purchasing your backup generator, you should be given an indication of how much fuel your generator can take – and how many hours of operation a full tank should offer. However, if you notice during times of power outages that your generator’s fuel consumption is increasing dramatically, this could be indicative of an issue. If you’re unsure as to how long your generator should be able to operate given your generator’s fuel capacity – and the load it is required to power, contact generator experts and let them assess your situation.

7. It’s Really Old

Has your generator been sitting there since your building was built back in the early 1980s? It might be an obvious one, but the older your generator is – the greater the chance it might need generator maintenance. If your generator is a golden oldie, find out from management when last it was serviced – if ever – and be sure to book a generator service before next starting it up.

Get 24/7 Generator Maintenance in KwaZulu-Natal

S&A Generators has over 25 years of experience in the generator and backup power industry. We’re skilled generator professionals specialising in generator installations, generator repairs, managed generator maintenance, and generator support. We’re also able to relocate generators – regardless of size – when moving premises. Contact us today for any and all of your generator-related needs in KwaZulu-Natal!

How Our Generator Maintenance Service Works

How Our Generator Maintenance Service Works

To keep your generator running smoothly, generator maintenance is essential. As South Africa still faces plenty of concern when it comes to load shedding, more homes and businesses are starting to look at back-up solutions such as standby generators. These tools help to ensure that the lights stay on, even when the national electricity grid comes to a stand-still. With that said, simply buying and installing a generator is only the first step. In order to get the most from your generator, you will need to look at a generator maintenance plan that keeps your device going strong throughout the year.

S&A Generators offers a comprehensive generator maintenance service that keeps your generator in optimal condition throughout the year. This means that it will be able to work as expected whenever it is needed, without any issues. Keep reading to learn more about our maintenance service options.

How often should I service my generator?

A Guide to Our Generator Maintenance Service

Our generator maintenance service includes monthly (inspection), quarterly (routine) and annual (major) services. Here’s a breakdown of what each service entails.

Monthly (Inspection) Service

Each month, our generator maintenance service covers the following tasks that help to spot any potential issues and make sure that your generator is working at its best:

  • Thorough cleaning of your generator
  • Checks for abnormalities and leaks
  • Checks and top up of coolant
  • Checks and top up of oil
  • Checks and bleeding of water traps
  • Checks of fan belt tension and coolant hoses
  • Checks of battery condition and charge rate
  • Checks of the control panel

Quarterly (Routine) Service

Every quarter, we do a routine generator maintenance service that is designed to give you optimal usage of your generator. Tasks done during this service include the following:

  • Cleaning of generator and plant room
  • Checks for issues and leaks
  • Operation of immersion heater and controls
  • Checks of battery for issues
  • Checks of coolant/oil levels and top ups
  • Checks and bleeding of water traps
  • Checks of the control panel
  • Checks of fan belt tension and coolant hoses
  • Undertaking of mains fail on generator set/mains

Annual (Major) Service

Once a year, we perform a major service that ensures that your generator is still functioning at its best. The following is done during these services:

  • Oil replacement
  • Coolant replacement
  • Changing of all filters
  • Setting tappets to manufacturer’s recommendations
  • Cleaning of generator and plant room
  • Painting/touching up of exhaust housing

Get generator repairs

Along with our generator maintenance plans, we also provide maintenance as needed, although this can end up costing more than our service plans. We can also provide generator fuel top-ups as needed. To learn more about generator maintenance in Durban and surrounds, contact S&A Generators today.