A diesel generator is a marvel of modern technology. It combines a diesel engine with an electrical generator (alternator) to produce electricity. A diesel engine is made to run on fuel oil but with some variations, it can also run on other sources of power such as natural-gas. Maintenance of the engines is relatively straightforward and lesser than comparable generators. Diesel generators are more durable and reliable due to their sturdy design.
Operational costs for a diesel engine generator is also lesser in comparison to gasoline and propane powered alternatives. Their ability to withstand a heavy or even a full load for a longer period of time makes them a favorite in the industrial generator category. They can even start at full load in a matter of minutes. However, they need to be maintained timely and regularly in order to provide the best service over their useful life.
A few things should be kept in mind when maintaining these diesel generators.
Before starting the diesel generator, the exhaust and fuel systems along with the engine and DC electric motor needs to be monitored and closely inspected. What the engineer should be looking for are potential leaks that could cause an explosion and result in loss of life.
As is the case with any other engine, timely oil change allows the moving components of the engine to remain lubricated and function smoothly. It is recommended that the oil is changed after every 100 hours of use for trouble-free continued operation of the generator.
The oil must be checked at the time of closing the generator periodically with a dipstick. The oil in the upper part of the engine should drain into the crankcase. Viscosity and API classification need to be within the limits recommended by the manufacturer. If there is a lower level of oil, it should be filled to a level that is close to the “full” mark on the dipstick.
When the generator is off (shutdown), it is ideal to check coolant levels after opening the radiator cap. This should, however, not be done while the engine is still hot as the coolant would have a higher temperature and erupt in the engineer/technician’s face. Always allow it to cool down. The larger and more powerful diesel generators need to have a mixture of coolant, antifreeze (for cooler climates), water and additives to work at optimum efficiency.
As for the obstructions in the radiator, they have to be removed with a brush or clean cloth. If there is a blower to clean the fan of the radiator, that should be used at low pressure settings opposite to the flow of air into the radiator to clean it.
Just having a check on the battery output voltage will not suffice checking for active battery power. They should be tested under load, either manually or through an inbuilt testing mechanism in the generator.
As batteries near the end of their useful life, their resistance to current increases and the only way to test them for starting power is to perform a load test.
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