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Where Can I Install My Generator?

There are a number of things to consider when choosing a location for a home backup generator. There are installation instructions and local code requirements which dictate where the generator can be placed in relation to a building and other surrounding objects. Local code requirements can vary by region so it’s important to be familiar with the requirements in your area. There are local bylaws which inform people about minimum distances away from neighbour properties and maximum noise allowances which influences where you can place your generator. In addition to local code requirements, following the manufacturer’s recommended installation instructions is extremely important to maintain a safe, professional installation of your power generation system. Failure to do so could void the manufacturer’s warranty and could potentially lead to hazards such as objects or building fires. Some considerations to follow highlighted in the installation instructions are minimum distances away from objects and buildings, minimum distances away from the exhaust output, and minimum distances from openings and/or vents. There also needs to be space left for technicians or maintenance people to service the generator effectively. While you need to satisfy all the safety requirements, you want to place the generator as close to the utility connections as possible. This minimizes the distances for wire and piping which lowers the risk of connection problems and reduces installation costs.

In addition to considering the proximity of objects and structures relative to the generator, you also need to consider the ground on which the generator is placed. In most cases, you’ll need to create a smooth, level surface to place the generator on. Typically, this can be done by pouring a concrete pad or by purchasing a prefabricated mounting pad supplied by the generator manufacturer. While your generator is designed to withstand the outdoor elements, it will need to be placed in areas of your property where water does not commonly pool or snow does not tend to build up. Choosing an appropriate location for your generator will improve the performance of your generator.

There are many safety factors that need to be considered when choosing a location for your generator. As a licensed electrical contractor with many years of experience installing residential generators, a representative of Prima Power Systems can help guide you through the process. We will take care of all permitting and ensure that the installation meets local electrical code requirements to avoid any fines and/or relocation costs. Give us a call today to get started on your home improvement project.

What is the Difference Between Mobile, Portable, and Towable Generators?

The terms “mobile” and “portable” for generators are ambiguous and could mean multiple things. Sometimes those terms refer to an inverter generator, larger gasoline powered generator, a truck mounted generator, or generator attached to a trailer (towable). Mobile or portable generators could encompass any power generation unit that is not specifically bolted down and stationary.

Portable Generators

That said, portable generally refers to a generator that can be moved by one person. It might have wheels to help maneuver or be light enough and have a handle to carry.

An inverter generator is a type of portable generator. The Cummins Onan P2500i is about 50 pounds and has a carry handle built into the casing. It’s a digital inverter generator that runs on gasoline, and offers 2,200 running watts, capping out at 2,500 watts.

The Cummins Onan P4500i offers more power with 3,700 running watts, peaking at 4,500 watts. It’s also a digital inverter gasoline generator. The P4500i weighs about 98 pounds, but has wheels and a telescopic handle, like a big suitcase, to make it easy to move around. 

Industrial Portable Generators

When someone says portable, they could also be referring to an industrial portable generator, which could be used on a jobsite, like Winco’s lines of Dyna Professional and Big Dog generators. These generators range from 104 pounds to 504 pounds and can be mounted on a four-wheel dolly for increased maneuverability. These generators typically have a lifting eye built into the frame. This lets you use mechanical assistance, such as a forklift or crane, to lift it in or out of a truck or trailer. The Winco line offers watt capacities (starting/running) of 3000/2400W up to 22000/19000W.

Mobile & Towable Generators

Towable generators are portable as well, but they are fastened to a trailer to tow behind a vehicle. Towable generators generally range from 20kW to 500kW. These generators can be run in parallel for additional power. Paralleling generators refers to connecting two or more generators together to increase output. Towable generators are ideal for worksites (local or remote), events, unexpected outages, and scheduled outages. 

Questions?

Since the terminology is confusing, you can just give us a call to discuss what you need. You can review some specification sheets at the links below, but a Prima Power Systems rep will be happy to answer any questions and help you find a generator that meets your needs.

You can find the spec sheets for our portable generators at these links:

Winco Portable Generators

Atlas Copco Mobile Generators

Doosan Portable Generators

 

How Much Power Do You Need in a Generator?

The amount of electricity that a device needs to operate is measured in watts or kilowatts (1,000 watts). Most devices display their power needs on the plate or label where the model number and serial number are located. It might be stated as a single number, like 2900; or it may have two numbers, like 3500/2900. The two numbers means that the device needs more power to start up, in this case 3,500; but less power to continuously operate, the 2,900.

Generator specification sheets show the power of the generator. This is the maximum capacity of the generator in kilowatts. That number needs to be at least as high as the total needs of all of the devices you need to power at one time.

Residential Generators

In residential applications, it is important to follow the Canadian Electrical Code (CEC) in order to correctly size a generator for the desired electrical loads. This can vary from a whole home backup system, to a smaller system that only powers a few essential devices. While sizing for a smaller isolated system is quite simple, a whole home system will require the load calculation guidelines set forth by local governing safety authorities. The guideline starts with a base load demand calculated by the square footage of the dwelling followed by calculating the electrical needs of items such as stoves, air conditioners, and dryers, etc. From there, any other type of heating or motor loads must be added and calculated at the full rating of the device.

Startup vs Operational

The start up requirements vs the operational requirements are determined by how the generator will be used. For example, if you are using the generator as the prime power source for an industrial operation at a remote site, your total startup needs might be 400 kilowatts (kW), and your operational needs 310kW. If all of the equipment has to be started at the same time, then your generator needs to be at least 400kW. But, if you can start up each piece of equipment in a series, and the most power you need for any one piece of equipment is 200kW, then your total needs will be somewhere between 310kW and 400kW. In the example below, Equipment 1 (E1) needs 200kW to start up, so it’s started first. E1’s needs then drop to 150kW. To keep E1 going while we start E2, we need a total of 270kW, then it drops to 250kW. To keep E1 and E2 going while we start E3, we need 330kW. So, our total needs are 330kW and not 400kW.

  Start Operate Start Next Maintain
E 1 200 150   150
E 2 120 100 270 250
E 3 80 60 330 310
Total 400 310    

 

Let’s look at the opposite end of the scale, a portable generator for your tools. If you’re only using one tool, then you only need enough power to start the tool, as the power maintenance requirements are always lower. 

For a backup generator for your home, business, or industrial facility, you need to add up the kilowatts needed for each item you need to power at the same time. So, for example, at a restaurant, if a power outage occurs, you’ll need backup power for the refrigerators, freezers, the heating, cooling, and exhaust systems, the payment system, and at least some emergency lighting. You’ll also want all of those items to startup as soon as possible to avoid interruptions. If you add up all of those energy needs, you’ll end up with the number of kilowatts you’ll need at one time. Let’s say that number is 85kW. Then you’d choose a generator that has a capacity of at least 85kW.

Now, let’s talk about voltage. Voltage is the amount of force with which the electrical energy leaves the generator to travel through the electrical system. The amount of energy decreases as it travels. The more force it starts with, the less energy is lost along the way. In practical terms, your voltage needs will differ depending on the distance and overall amount of space you need to cover. A home, for example, can do with a lower voltage than a large factory. The higher voltage for the factory will ensure that the item farthest away from the generator will get the power it needs, and the overall distribution will be more efficient. 

If power requirements are expressed in amps instead of kilowatts, you can use this formula to convert between them: Watts = Volts x Amps.

You don’t need to worry about doing all of these calculations yourself. We’re here to help, and will be happy to review your needs and make a recommendation. Just give us a call at 1-604-746-0606 or contact us today.

What is a Generator?

A generator (or genset) is a machine consisting of two main parts: an engine and an electrical generator. The engine component converts fuel into mechanical energy and the electrical generator component converts mechanical energy into electricity. Other components usually include an engine speed regulator, voltage regulator, alternator, and a cooling and exhaust system. The alternator is required to produce AC (alternating current) power, which is what is supplied to our homes and is needed for most appliances and equipment.

Different Types of Generators

While large generators, such as those used by utility companies to produce power for a community, may use water, wind, or coal, most of the generators we sell generate electricity by burning a fuel, such as gasoline, natural gas, or propane, or a combination of these. We provide prime and standby generators, portable generators, towable generators, and PTO generators. 

Power Take Off Generators

A PTO generator is a bit different in that it uses the engine from a vehicle like a tractor, so it doesn’t need its own fuel source. PTO’s are an attractive option for farmers, since most already have a tractor, and without its own engine, PTO’s are more affordable.

Mobile, Portable, and Towable Generators

Many portable generators also have an inverter. The inverter counteracts the reduction in the speed of the engine when a load is connected (e.g., a power tool). The inverter allows a consistent output of electricity. Inverter generators are also quieter and more fuel efficient because the engine runs at fewer revolutions-per-minute (RPMs) compared to other engine generators.  

Why Have a Generator

Our generators can serve as the primary source of power or as a backup system when the usual source of power is disrupted.

All electrical devices, from a curling iron to a washing machine, to a HVAC system for a large facility, require a certain number of watts to start up and to stay on. Motor loads have a higher startup power requirement than running requirement and can take up to three times as much power to start than a running load. Wattage needs depend on what you want to provide electricity to. 

The smallest generator we sell weighs about 50 pounds, while the largest is more than 40,000 pounds. Power output from standard generators range from 2,500 watts to 2,000,000 watts (2,000kW); however, we can configure multiple generators to work in parallel to produce even more electricity at one time.

Since we offer a variety of different generators, our website categorizes them by type of use. Click on any category below to view the options:

If you’d like to read more about the different types and usages for generators, these articles are also available:

Of course, you can also just give us a call at 1-604-746-0606. We’re here to help you make an informed decision and are happy to discuss your needs and answer your questions.

 

What Kind of Generator Do You Need?

You know you need power and you know why, but where do you start when selecting a power generator? In this article, we’ll look at the different categories of generators, where they are commonly used, and some of the options to consider.