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How to Prepare Your Generator for Winter

As colder weather approaches, taking care of your generator and ensuring it is ready for operation whenever you need it is essential. You’ll want your machine to fire up within seconds of a power outage or disruption. Taking steps to prepare your generator is key to keeping it in working condition all year long.

We are breaking down the ways freezing temperatures and precipitation can impact your equipment and the measures you can take to protect your investment. Continue reading to learn more about winter maintenance for standby generators. 

How Can Winter Weather Affect Your Generator?

Cold weather can have a major impact on your generator’s operation. The freezing temperatures and icy precipitation associated with winter can lead to complications, such as difficulty getting your machine to start up. 

The following may be responsible for your generator not starting:

  • Battery temperature: When your equipment’s battery is cold, it produces less power. As the weather gets cooler, your battery might become too weak to power your generator effectively, even if you charge it fully. 
  • Blockages: Your machine requires adequate airflow in order for the fuel to burn properly. Ice and snow can accumulate around the exhaust and intake ports, blocking the air passages and preventing your generator from starting. 
  • Oil temperature: Oil viscosity changes in freezing temperatures. It can become thicker and may flow too slowly, barring the equipment from firing up or running for long periods. 
  • Wet stacking: When your generator operates in cold conditions, it can cause wet stacking. This phenomenon occurs when carbon soot along your exhaust pipes mixes with unburned fuel, and it can inhibit your equipment’s performance
  • Freezing technology: If your machine has an electronic control panel, the cold temperatures can prevent it from working properly and ultimately keep your equipment from starting up. 

You want your generator to work reliably when you need it. If your equipment is located outside of your facility, you must take steps to winterize it and prepare for freezing weather.

Explore the ways you can prep your machine for the colder months.

How to Prepare and Maintain Your Generator for Winter

How do you winterize a generator? Follow these steps to prepare and maintain your generator for the freezing temperatures and winter weather: 

Read Your Owner’s Manual

If your commercial generator came with an owner’s manual, take a look at what the manufacturer recommends when preparing for winter. You can likely locate your equipment’s manual online if you do not have a physical copy. It may outline special steps to effectively protect your machine against the elements.

Reading your owner’s manual is important to ensure you don’t void your warranty or neglect your equipment’s maintenance needs.

Run Your Generator Regularly

Running your commercial generator periodically can help to keep its parts well-lubricated and maintain its seals. Consider turning your machine on at least once a week. Doing so will help you stay updated on how your equipment is operating and if it needs additional attention. Regular operation can help prevent wet stacking and protect your generator’s engine

If you want to test your equipment’s output, you can use a load bank test to address its overall health and ensure it is reaching its assigned rating.

Use a Battery Blanket

Freezing temperatures can negatively impact the effectiveness of your commercial generator’s battery. You can use a battery blanket that is thermostatically controlled. These devices plug into an electrical outlet and can keep your equipment’s battery at a temperature that is ready for operation. 

To protect your battery’s functioning further, ensure you keep it charged throughout the winter months. 

Keep Your Equipment Clean

Keeping your equipment clean is essential for maintaining it all year long. Regularly inspect your generator and clean any debris on or around it. Be sure to remove any twigs or leaves from the air vents. Carefully get rid of any dirt or dust buildup, and make sure the space around your outdoor generator is clear.

Install an Engine Block Heater

Another way to prepare your commercial generator for winter is by installing an engine block heater. These devices are also called engine pre-heaters and water jacket heaters. They can keep your engine oil warm for reliable operation during the cold winter months.

Switch Your Oil Type

As the temperatures drop, your generator’s oil can thicken up to a gel-like consistency and interfere with your engine’s ability to start. Consider swapping your current oil for a thinner option that is less likely to cause problems during winter. When springtime comes, you can switch back to your regular oil. 

Install Snow Hoods or Louvers

Protecting your generator’s openings from rain, snow and sleet is an essential part of winter maintenance. You can install snow hoods to prevent precipitation from entering your machine’s air intake ports. If you want even more weatherproofing, consider adding louvers with angled slats that prevent snow and ice from entering while supporting adequate airflow. 

Consider an Upgrade

If your current commercial generator is persistently having trouble starting up during the winter months, upgrading your model may be in your best interest. Older options may not be suitable for freezing temperatures, even after taking measures to prepare and maintain your equipment.

Frequently Asked Questions About Winter Generator Maintenance

Check out some commonly asked questions about taking care of your commercial generator during the colder months.

  • Can generators freeze? Yes, and if your machine is frozen, it will likely not start up at all. That is why it is essential to learn how to keep a generator from freezing with proper maintenance and preparation.
  • Do I need a cold weather kit for my generator? Having cold weather kits for standby generators can be very beneficial for ensuring your equipment is ready when you need it during freezing temperatures. 
  • Can I store my portable generator indoors? While you should never run a generator indoors, you can place your generator inside a warehouse or detached garage as long as its fuel tank is empty and it is not plugged in. Consult the manual from your manufacturer to learn how to drain the fuel in your generator before storage.

Test and Inspect Your Generator for Winter With Load Banks Direct

One of the best ways to ensure your generator is ready for winter is by conducting a load bank test. At Load Banks Direct, we’ve provided accurate testing for emergency power sources for more than 20 years. 

As a leading manufacturer of high-capacity load banks, we understand your unique power needs. We offer customized solutions to ensure your generator is equipped to support your applications. 

Contact Load Banks Direct to learn more or request a quote today!

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