A generator set, or genset for short, is the combination of an engine and electrical generator built together to form one piece of equipment that produces electrical power. The mechanical work of the engine is converted into electrical power by a component inside the generator called an alternator.
Generator sets are used in places that are not connected to the power grid, or to supply power in times of emergency when the power grid fails. Generator sets can also be used to produce energy during peak usage hours when energy costs the most. This power-saving application to reduce the amount of electricity purchased from the utility is known as peak-shaving.
In simple terms, an electrical generator is a device that converts mechanical energy from an external source to electrical energy. But it is important to note that the generator itself does not actually “create” electrical energy.
A generator set uses a prime mover to force the movement of electric charges through a circuit in the wire if its windings. In other words, the electric current it supplies is actually the flow of electric charges.
The generator works through the process of electromagnetic induction where a source moves an electrical conductor, usually a wire, in a magnetic field which induces the flow of electric charges. The movement of the wire creates a difference between the voltages of the two ends of the wire, causing electric charges to flow and generating current.
The two main interior components of a generator are the stator and the rotor. They work together to generate electricity by generating motion between the electric and magnetic fields.
The stator is a stationary part that contains a set of wires that are wound in coils around an iron core. The rotor or armature is connected to the engine’s output crankshaft and produces the rotating magnetic field.
The rotor creates a moving magnetic field around the stator, inducing a difference between the windings of a stator. By varying the winding patterns, a specific output voltage of the generator can be made which produces alternating current (AC).
Diesel engines are known for their long-life, durability, and general ease of maintenance. A diesel engine operating at 1800 rpm can run for 12,000 to 30,000 hours before needing major maintenance services. In comparison, the same gas-powered engine may need major servicing after only 6,000 to 10, 000 hours of operation.
Because diesel fuel burns cooler than gasoline, it reduces the wear and the heat on the engine. The power produced by diesel generators can also cost less because of the higher energy density and increased efficiency of diesel fuel. Improvements have also been made in engine technology to reduce diesel emissions, shedding diesel’s image as a “dirty” fuel.
Natural gas generators use liquefied petroleum gas or propane as fuel. It is a clean-burning fuel which may reduce problems with emissions. It also has the advantage of being easy to store in below or above ground tanks. Generators that run on natural gas are durable, but they can be more expensive to purchase initially.
Even though natural gas is often cheaper than other fuels, you might incur additional operating cause because it needs to be trucked to your facility. A natural gas generator also has a lower output compared to a similar-sized diesel generator, so you may need to move up a size to get the same results.
These generators often have a lower purchase price, and while they can run for long periods of time, they do require a more comprehensive maintenance. The gasoline can also wear the engine faster by deteriorating rubber components.
Gasoline can also be more difficult to store due to its high potential to burn or explode.
Because gasoline itself deteriorates, long-term storage can be difficult, making it a less than ideal choice for larger industrial applications.
Generator sets are specifically designed for different applications. Some may be designed for continuous use while others may only be used for short periods of time, like portable use, backup generation, or peak shaving.
Generator sets that are continuously used are usually found in places or sites where there is no access to a power grid.
Examples of such places include construction sites, ships, and mining operations. There can also be rare cases where access to a power grid is available, but it may be cheaper to generate power with a generator.
Backup generators are usually stored in the basements of schools, hospitals, communication facilities, and military bases.
When a power grid fails, these generators are important because they maintain operations at these facilities, sometimes even with potentially life-saving results.
In order to reduce the amount of downtime in these facilities, they start automatically during power outages.
When electricity demands are highest, generator sets can be used for peak shaving.
Typically, between 3:00 pm and 8:00 pm, people are just getting home from work, switching on the television and lights, starting to cook dinner, and cranking up their air conditioning. Using a generator set during these peak hours can help reduce your electric bill.
Consider your total power requirements in kilowatts and choose the correct generator size for your needs.
Here at Multico Prime Power Inc., we have generator sets that range from 75 KVA – 2500 KVA available for all your power needs.
Contact Multico today and let us help you determine the amount of power and the best type of generator for you!