Feature: How do you pick the right portable generator?

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  • Earthmovers & Excavators

Atlas Copco QES40 generator on construction site The Atlas Copco QES40 is an example of a prime mobile generator Atlas Copco QES40 generator on construction site

Making sure you have the best portable generator for to the job has a big impact on the life of the generator itself.

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Redstar says having the wrong generator can have a big impact on the performance, reliability, serviceability and the residual value of the actual generator unit.

"Selecting a portable generator is simple if you have the right information," Redstar Equipment general manager of sales Kevin Ennis says.

"Not doing your homework can cost you with most technical and maintenance issues caused by selecting the wrong portable generator."

Typically, a portable generator is made up of a fixed-speed diesel engine spinning an alternator. The alternator is configured to produce the type and voltage of electricity required. There are generally three classes of portable diesel generators: standby, prime fixed and prime mobile.

A standby generator, as the name suggests, is used as standby power in the case of a blackout. The generator is intended as a backup, not replacement, to mains power.

"A standby generator application is used when a mains power already exists and a generator is required to act only as back-up if there is a blackout," Ennis says.

"Subsequently, the generator will usually only run a handful of hours per year, if at all. You should select a standby generator based on the quality of the brand, price, availability of parts and access to a local service agent."

A prime fixed generator is used as the primary source of power, and will be fixed in one spot for most of its working life. As this type of generator is intended to permanently replace mains power, Redstar says expert advice should be sought before purchasing.

"In any prime application, most of the cost of owning or renting a generator is fuel," Ennis continues.

"The quality of the brand, size, fuel efficiency of the engine and access to parts and service is critical for prime fixed generators. It is essential to consult a generator specialist to assist you in selecting this type of generator."

The third type of portable diesel generator is the prime mobile. Similar to a prime fixed, the prime mobile generator is intended to act as the primary power source. But this type of generator will be moved around to many different spots throughout its working life.

"Prime mobile generators are commonly used by construction and rental companies," Ennis says.

"Quality of the brand, size and fuel efficiency of the engine is key to saving costs. A robust build and canopy design is essential for the longevity of prime fixed mobile generators."

Regardless of the type of portable diesel generator you’re looking at, it pays to really think about how the generator will be used.


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