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Diesel Generators an Overview

| Articles | November 14, 2012

Diesel generators are ideal for industrial applications and are often found as the backup power system of choice for healthcare facilities, data centers, mining and agricultural operations and greenhouse facilities.

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Why are Diesel Generators so Popular?

As a fuel, diesel is preferred by many because of its lower cost and ability to extend the life of the generator itself. Also, diesel fuel may contain specific additives which stabilize it, creating a longer shelf life for those certain applications where your backup unit may not be used for long periods of time.

These units are rugged and reliable and an economic choice for many commercial applications, as both permanent standby systems and also portable power sources at construction sites.


The majority of these generators run at 1800RPM and are water-cooled, which gives them a longer life span than portable gas generators which are air-cooled and have the standard 3600 RPM.  Diesel units are so dependable that, generally speaking, you can get up to 30,000 hours of use before servicing is required provided the machine has been properly maintained.

Cost Efficient

As fuel prices continue to climb, diesel generators become an even more attractive option. Typically speaking, diesel costs per KW produced are usually 30-50% less than natural gas, gasoline or propane. And, as mentioned earlier, the longer lifespan and more hours of use mean maintenance costs tend to be lower as well.

Determining Size

Although diesel units typically range in size from 20KW up to 2000 KW, they can come as small as 6 KW and go as large as 3000 KW. The larger models are available as towable units which are mounted on trailers and can be towed to construction sites. In order to determine the size of generator you require, look at your peak load over the last 24 months.

How Diesel Engines Work

What is the main difference between a diesel engine and a gasoline engine, and how does a diesel generator provide all that power with less fuel consumption?

Gas engines produce electricity by taking in a mixture of air and gas which is then compressed and ignited with a spark. A diesel engine, on the other hand, takes in only air and compresses it first, then injects fuel into that compressed air. The heat of the compressed air lights the fuel without the need of any spark.

The diesel engine has a higher compression ration – 14:1 and even as high as 25:1 compared to gasoline’s ratio of 8:1 or 12:1. This higher compression ratio is what makes the diesel generator more efficient.

Buying Guide

There are four main types of diesel units available on the market today: Portable generators, stand-by units, towable and power take-off generators. Each type will come with a different power output and price, so it’s important to make sure you know exactly what application you’ll be using it for and determine what your budget is first.


Portable generators are smaller and usually cost less than other models. They are extremely useful when it comes to providing temporary power at job sites or remote locations. These units are also good for home use when there is a power failure due to inclement weather. They can be operated virtually anywhere out of doors because their fuel tanks are built right in. Never run a portable unit indoors as they produce toxic fumes.


Unlike the portable model, a standby unit can be installed permanently and used as an alternative source of power during an emergency. These models are commonly seen at hospitals and nursing homes and data centers and are typically hardwired to the building’s electrical system. In order to prevent any damage to your existing wiring and other electrical equipment, it is best to have your standby generator professionally installed by a qualified electrician.

Also, it’s important to make sure you purchase a reliable standby machine. A quality unit will shut down automatically if it loses oil pressure or overheats. Other things to look for are a solid metal enclosure, noise-reduction mufflers and emissions regulations.

When researching diesel generators to buy, it’s a good idea to keep certain things in mind, like the reliability and reputation of the manufacturer, the model you require, terms of the warranty, price and what, if any, maintenance will be provided after the sale.

Why Consider a Used Diesel Generator?

Buying a used industrial diesel generator can be very beneficial. Many companies, both large and small, invest in pre-owned or low-hour used units because it is usually the most cost-effective way of acquiring high-quality assets and equipment at low prices.

Having said this, there are some factors to take into account when purchasing a used generator:

  • How well was the machine maintained?
  • Does it come with a full service history?
  • What are the age, hours and usage?
  • What is the physical condition (wear and tear) of the machine?
  • How does it perform in a load test?
  • Does it come with any kid of warranty or guarantee?
  • Will you purchase from a broker or distributor?

Installation Overview

A diesel genset consists of the engine, the generator, the base, control systems circuit breakers, sound attenuation, canopy, water heaters and a starting system. In order for all of these to work properly, your generator set must be installed correctly.

There are a few basic guidelines for the installation of diesel standby generators but most will come with their own set of instructions, so always refer to these before you start.

Your first priority will be to choose a location for your installation. Things to keep in mind when selecting your location are ventilation methods, humidity, access to the unit, exhaust piping and temperature.

Although it is highly recommended that your diesel generator be installed and serviced by an experienced and certified technician who will follow all codes and regulations, it is still good for you to understand and follow the basic installation procedures:

Before the unit is installed, there should be a thorough inspection to see if any damage has occurred during the shipping process.

Your generator should be located outdoors in a protective enclosure where proper ventilation is available.  Make sure your unit is placed on a level surface and a bit above ground so as to protect the machine from rising water levels during certain seasons.

In an effort to minimize the amount of cables and piping, install your generator as close to the transfer switch and fuel supply as you can.

Usually, grounding lugs are provided for grounding the frame and external conducting parts of your machine. Make sure that these grounding procedures meet all of your local regulations and are followed strictly.

Before inserting any batteries into your generator make certain they are all fully charged.

The transfer switch is a delicate piece of equipment and should be handled with care, especially when unpacking. It must be wall-mounted and all points level with each other.

The generator should be connected to your electrical system only through the transfer switch.

When wiring, make sure all critical loads are grouped together but wired separately into the exclusive distribution panel.

If you’re ready to start shopping for a used diesel generator, take a look at our selection and feel free to give us a call if you don’t see what you need in our inventory. We work with a nationwide network of reputable dealers and can locate your ideal unit for you.

Why a Trailer-Mounted or Towable Generator?

| Articles | November 14, 2012

The biggest and most obvious benefit of a towable (also referred to as trailer mounted) generator is that it can go wherever a source of power is required. Whether you have a job site or an event that requires lights and equipment, or your local area has been hit by a weather disaster such as a hurricane or flood, a towable generator can easily be transported wherever power is needed the most. These units are often lifesavers, sometimes literally in the case of hospitals and emergency crews.

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Multiple Choices of Fuel

Generally speaking, towable generators are powered by either gasoline or diesel fuel. Having said that, there are some conversion kits that can be installed so your unit will run on propane or natural gas as well.

If interested in installing one of these conversion kits, it is highly recommended that you have a qualified and experienced technician do the work, or you risk voiding out the original warranty from the manufacturer.

The Benefits of Trailer Mounted Units

Not only are these portable generators beneficial because of their ability to go where the power source is needed most, they also offer ultra quiet operation – which is great when working in more populated areas with zoning laws; optimum performance – which means you can power the equipment your job requires; and superior reliability – which means your generator will work for you every time you call upon it.

These units are built to be used in even the most rugged conditions. The metal enclosure not only helps cut down on noise pollution, it also protects the machine from the daily wear and tear of being used on tough job sites. State-of-the-art controls and electronics have been engineered to meet even the toughest demands and challenges. And the ease of operation is bar none. Simply tow it to your job site or business, connect the load and start it up. When necessary, towable generators can even be connected to automatic transfer switches and be used for standby applications.

These models are built to withstand heavy power loads and are an ideal solution for providing either temporary, standby or emergency power requirements that can range from 20 kW up to 640 kW. Mounted on a tandem-axle trailer, they are easily towable at highway speeds.

Why Should You Consider Buying a Used Towable Generator?

Buying used industrial equipment means getting necessary inventory at incredibly discounted prices. Most used generators listed for sale will come with service histories and full performance data so you can make a sound investment with peace of mind.

If you’re a homeowner, have a construction business, or simply want to be prepared when disaster strikes and the power grid fails, you may want to consider purchasing a towable generator for its ruggedness and reliability, and for the fact it can go where you need power the most.

Take a look through our inventory of used industrial generators to find the right towable unit for your needs. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, feel free to give us a call – we’ll be happy to locate one for you.

Buying a Generator: New or Used?

| Articles | August 30, 2012

In this day and age there are plenty of reasons to buy a used generator. For one thing power supplies from utility grids are not as reliable thanks to the increasing frequency of bad weather and also natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes.

Having a stand-by or emergency source of power is a good idea especially if you or your business is dependent on electricity. For instance it could be a disaster for a hospital or construction site to lose power.

The bottom line is that generators provide that extra level of security that makes sure that all of your operations run smoothly.  At home you may need lighting, refrigeration and appliances at the very least and if you have a disabled person in the home you may also need a lift of some kind.  Apartment buildings need to make sure that they have sufficient power running to prevent residents from being stuck in an elevator or unable to enter the building.

Many businesses and residences also need electricity to keep their security systems operating.

Residential Uses

If you own a home you need not suffer or be inconvenienced in any way if you have a back-up generator in place. Electricity from a stand-by generator can help lighting, entertainment equipment, appliances, HVAC, computers, air conditioners and security systems operating.

A unit for home use can be quite small. Some homes can get by with a generator that is only 10 kW.  Anything larger will provide you with all of your power needs for quite a long time.  Usually the generator is installed outside, and resembles the installation of an air conditioning unit.

Small Business Uses

Small businesses can benefit from having a back-up power generator. This is especially true if you are running a lot of computers. Sudden power loss can lead to data loss if you are not careful and computer crashes happen when the power grid surges or goes off suddenly. Owning a power generator can keep power running continuously so that technology is not compromised.

Determining the size of the unit that a business needs is somewhat dependent how much money your business makes and also how much voltage you will need to run the entire business without interruption. This is calculated by calling in an electrician who can correctly calculate your daily electricity load based on you absolute necessary needs including phones, processing equipment, refrigerators, security etc.

Continuous Use Generators Can Be Economical

If you own a large business or small industry the right size genset can allow you to use it as a primary source of power if your normal sources or utilities get too expensive. If you are in business this could allow you to keep your prices lower than your competition that does not have a generator and is still attached to the grid.

A Primary Source of Power

Although many of us view a power generator as being a unit that is used for back-up or in an emergency they are also needed for facilities of all kinds that need power in remote places that are not attached to a power grid. You often see units operating as the prime source of power in developing countries where there is a lot of construction where what little electricity there is might be costly and unreliable. In fact, entire Islands in the South Pacific are all that is needed to supply power to the entire population.

A unit creating prime power is defined as one that operates for eight to twelve hours a day. It does not necessarily mean that the power is on 24 hours a day. These types of industrial machines are used for applications like mining.

The price of generators really does vary and buying a used genset can really be worth your while whether you want to use it at home, for a small or large business or as a primary source of continuous power in an area where there is no power grid.

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