The Complete Generator Guide: How to Choose The Best Option

residential generator Anywhere you need power, a generator is needed to provide it to you. If you need more than the grid can provide or need it in a place where there is no grid (or in case of a power outage), then you need a generator. Homeowners, entertainment venues, construction companies, and more need to have a generator onsite to fulfill their energy needs. Below, you’ll find a complete generator guide that will walk you through what you need to know, from the types of generators out there to the maintenance and support your generator will need.

Industrial vs. Residential vs. Critical Generators

There are three main kinds of generators you may need to become familiar with: industrial, residential, and critical generators. In short, an industrial generator is one used for industrial purposes, such as at construction sites, mining operations and more. A residential generator is used to supply power to homes. A critical generator is one that provides backup power to a facility that absolutely needs to run if the power goes out, such as hospitals, prisons, military bases, etc.

Industrial Generators

Let’s start with industrial generators. They typically provide from 150 kW to 2 megawatts of power. They are made to withstand challenging environments, reduce noise levels to protect staff hearing, and be portable by cranes and other equipment. You can get custom industrial generators to fit unique needs. Industrial generators typically rely on diesel or natural gas for fuel.

Residential Generators

Residential generators that are made for a single home are much smaller than those for industrial use. We provide generators that create 10 kW and up, that may be suitable for residential use.

Critical Generators

Like industrial generators, critical generators are typically larger than residential generators. Critical generators are usually diesel, gasoline, or natural gas-powered. You will find that there are strict laws around critical generators because lives rely on their operation.

Generator Sizes and Strengths

We offer a wide range of generators in different sizes and strengths. We start at 10kW and go all the way up to generators that supply 2000 kW. We also offer a wide range of voltages, including:
  • 240/120V
  • 208/120V
  • 240/139V
  • 480/277V
  • 600/347V
We can provide generators with hardwire or Camlock connections. They all meet NEMA 3R outdoor ratings, so that you can use them in outdoor settings. To learn more about generators, give our team at VCM Solutions a call today!

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portable generator Individual generators are available that can create well over 3 mW. If you need more than 2000 kW of power than a single one of our generators can provide, you can choose to use two generators (or more) rather than investing in one oversized generator. In fact, this can be advantageous for those who need portable power. With two or more generators, you can split up your equipment, move some to a new site, and support multiple projects, operations or events at once. Generators may be able to produce a higher number of watts to supply starting power. So, you may see “starting watts” and “running watts,” and this is especially true of smaller generators meant to support homes during power outages. Appliances, equipment, and other units that use power need a higher number of watts when they start, so generators need to be able to make that higher amount, if only for a few seconds.

Selecting the Right Generator

How do you choose the right size generator for industrial needs? Consider which equipment or other items you’ll need the generator to supply power to. Then consider both their starting and running wattage and choose a generator that can supply this. You should also get a generator that provides the right voltage for your equipment. You can use transformers to alter the voltage if you need to. VCM Solutions can help you pick out the most logical and reliable generator and transformer combinations.

Generators for Power Outages

Selecting the right generator for your home as a power-outage backup is similar to choosing one for industrial needs. Ultimately, you just need to figure out how much power you need and then choose a generator that can supply it. You may not need to run every lightbulb and appliance in your home when the power goes out, so consider what you would absolutely need. Common items include:
  • Furnace
  • Air conditioner
  • Fridge
  • A computer
  • Select lights
  • Outlets to charge phones

Critical Commercial Generators

When it comes to choosing a critical generator, you also need to take into account your local regulations and laws. You may be required to have a certain power capacity, even if that is more than your facility may need if you suffer an interruption of power. You may also need to choose a generator with a certain rating or from a certain manufacturer.

Generators for Events and Entertainment 

If you are holding an event or need to store your generator outdoors, it is also important to make sure that your generator can stand up to outdoor conditions.

Assessing Your Needs

It is also wise to plan for future equipment needs. You can get a slightly larger generator to accommodate equipment that you plan to buy in the near future. However, running a significantly oversized generator can damage it. Unless you’re very sure you’ll make the investment in more equipment, it may be better to run your equipment on a smaller generator and upgrade it later when you do buy that extra equipment. Keep in mind that you need to use at least 35% of the generator’s capacity, and ideally more, to protect it from damage.

Generator Fuel

The generator fuel source is also an important consideration. Generators may run on gasoline, diesel, propane, and natural gas. You should make your decision based on what fuels you can store safely, which is most accessible to you, and their relative cost-effectiveness. Some high-powered generators will only accept certain kinds of fuel, such as diesel. This is important to keep in mind as you plan. VCM Solutions can show you how to get access to other fuel types, or which generator you should choose to accommodate the fuel source that you have already secured. mobile diesel generator

Generator Maintenance and Support 

Maintaining your generator is essential to ensure you get proper lifespan and performance from it. While you may not use your backup generator very often, it still needs to be maintained as if you do use it, or it may not be reliable when you need it. Providing your generator with proper maintenance has several benefits, including:
  • Longer generator lifespan
  • Reduced chance of system failure
  • Reduced repair costs
  • Safer working conditions
  • Safer facility
  • Better efficiency

Industrial vs Residential Generator Maintenance

There are very different maintenance needs for home use generators versus industrial generators. In either case, you should refer to manufacturer specifications to know what items, and when, need to be completed. That said, we can provide you with a general idea of what kind of maintenance is required. Industrial generators typically need:
  • Oil level check
  • Radiator core check
  • Radiator hose check
  • Block-level check
  • Fuel levels refresh
  • Adjustment of voltage
  • Stat battery electrolyte level
  • Charging voltage check
  • Cleaning
  • Battery terminal check
  • Fan belt check
  • Engine sump oil check
  • Clean engine
  • Clean switchboard
  • Clean alternator
Residential generators typically need:
  • General inspection
  • Lubrication
  • Inspect cooling system
  • Inspect fuel system
  • Service and test the start batteries
If you don’t run your home generator frequently, you need to. The engine needs exercise to keep in good condition, even if your power hasn’t gone out this year. Your manufacturer’s owner’s manual should give you some details as to when you need to run the generator and for how long.

Critical Generator Maintenance

Generator maintenance is even more important for critical generators, as you typically cannot afford to have these generators fail. Most critical facilities will follow Joint Commission standards to maintain and support their backup generators. Manufacturers release maintenance schedules that you should strictly adhere to. Further, the fuel should be of high quality, and the pump and other systems should be regularly tested on a monthly basis. After all, not only must backup power be available, but it must run for a set period of time to meet your local codes. You may rely on a third party to maintain your generators, which can be wise so long as you ensure the company’s maintenance standards are high enough.

We Can Help With all Your Generator Needs

Do you want to learn more about generators and which one is best for your business? Contact our experts at VCM Solutions today.