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Cold Weather Generator Operation

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, January 02, 2018
South Shore Generators - Generac Natural Gas Generators

Diesel generators are notoriously problematic during cold weather. Not only does diesel fuel become unstable in cold temperatures but when the engine block and heads are cold, they absorb the heat of the compression required to ignite diesel fuel.

When generators used for standby or continuous power will be operated at 32°F (0°C) or below – especially for extended periods of time – operators must take precautions to ensure the generator will start reliably, get to the desired load quickly, and continue to run without incident and unnecessary stress and wear on the engine.

Although fuel additives and other intermittent measures have long been common for generators, there is also a wide variety of purpose-built equipment that protects generators and their components against the cold. Some specialized add-ons keep the engine block warm; others keep coldsensitive equipment such as batteries and control boxes operating at the optimal temperature. This equipment is especially important where generators are being used in remote environments without any oversight by technicians or other company staff.

This blog looks at some of the equipment that can help companies protect their generator investments and ensure reliable startup and operation. It also offers a few pointers on selecting a provider to source generators and engines that are properly equipped for extremely cold weather use.

Battery warmers

Battery warmers enclose generator batteries in a thermal wrap, keeping the battery at a constant 80°F (27°C), the optimal temperature for maximum cold-cranking amps. Battery warmers should have durable, fire-retardant covers that resist oils and acids.

Thermostats, if available, can eliminate battery damage from possible overheating and subsequent acid spillage. Battery warmers prolong battery life and can boost cranking power by as much as 75 percent.

Block heaters

Block heaters, which are installed on the coolant circuit, keep the engine’s coolant warm enough that the unit is able to start immediately and attain/maintain the required engine load. They are generally powered by an external power source rather than the generator engine itself.

Hydronic coolant heaters

Hydronic coolant heaters gradually raise the temperature of the engine’s coolant, assuring even heating of the engine block. They enable generators to have warm starts, which reduce engine stress and wear, and reduce demand on the battery. Hydronic coolant heaters work independently of the engine, yet they tap into the fuel and power supplies of the engine. This approach eliminates the need for an external power or fuel source, which enables them to operate anywhere a generator could be located.

Control panel box heaters

For enclosed generators, cold weather operation brings another peril: condensation due to the differential between the external temperature and the temperature inside a heated enclosure.

These heaters keep the control box at an even temperature, preventing the condensation that can damage sensitive electronic parts.

Louvres

Louvres (also called dampers or shutters) open and close based on a specific trigger, eliminating both overcooling and overheating by regulating the amount of ambient airflow through the generator engine’s radiator.

Louvres can be thermostat activated, in which case a thermostat is installed inside the generator enclosure and an electronic switch triggers their operation when temperatures rise above a preset threshold. Electronic louvres such as these should always include electronic stall protection.

Louvres can also be hydraulic, being driven directly by the temperature of the engine’s coolant. Coolant-driven louvres open gradually, allowing the engine to cool effectively but preventing a sudden influx of cold air that could cause the temperature inside the generator enclosure to drop precipitously.

Hydraulic louvres are a preferred option in extremely cold climates because they do not contain sensitive electronic parts that are prone to seizing and failing in cold weather. Both types of louvres should also be able to prevent snow intrusion into the unit.

Snow hoods

Snow hoods are specialized coverings designed to prevent snow from accumulating inside the generator enclosure. Some manufacturers can relocate the generator’s air exhaust when they install snow hood kits, further preventing snow intrusion into the exhaust pipe without restricting air flow.

Final thoughts

When a generator is needed to supply power, there may not be much time for warm-up. A cold pack (winter pack) is a proven solution for ensuring generators can start without a long warm-up time and stay running dependably at temperatures ranging from 32°F to -50°F (0°C to -46°C). Depending on the situation and condition of the generator itself, this equipment can reduce the incidence of generator failure in cold conditions by 50 percent or more. For more information on industrial generators and sub-zero temperatures, contact South Shore Generator in Wareham, MA.

Source: oilandgasproductnews.com

The Use of Natural Gas Generators, Is Natural Gas or Diesel More Acceptable in MA?

Joseph Coupal - Monday, October 23, 2017
South Shore Generators - Generac Natural Gas Generators

Generac Industrial Power recently attended the 2017 NFPA conference in Boston, Mass. to discuss the use of natural gas generators in emergency system applications with the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) community.

The reliability of natural gas as fuel for emergency generator applications tends to create interesting discussions within the market. As the standard for standby power generation, NFPA 110, has plenty to say about reliability concerns and best practices relative to adequately maintaining on-site diesel. However, it provides little guidance for the acceptance of natural gas reliability. The National Electric Code (NEC) article 700.12(B)(3) states: “Prime movers shall not be solely dependent on a public utility gas system for their fuel supply - except: ‘Where acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction, the use of other than on-site fuels shall be permitted where there is a low probability of a simultaneous failure of both the off-site fuel delivery system and power from the outside electrical utility company.’”

So what is reliable enough? According to a 2013 report by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT’s) Lincoln Laboratory, natural gas distribution systems operate at a reliability rate exceeding 99.999 percent, with the exception of seismically active areas. Incidentally, that makes the natural gas distribution system approximately one thousand times more reliable than a single-engine generator set, which is typically assumed to be 99 percent reliable. To probe these questions, Generac surveyed 110 attendees at the NFPA show with three questions:

Is natural gas acceptable in your area?

The first asked if natural gas was an acceptable fuel for emergency system applications in their jurisdiction. Sixty-four percent replied yes; another 25 percent was uncertain. This illustrated a very high acceptance rate that mirrors the explosive growth in natural gas generators documented by Frost and Sullivan – 38 percent of the total North American market revenue is now natural gas generators, which is up from 28 percent only three years prior.

Who dictates acceptance? What guidelines exist?

The second question asked who determines if natural gas is an acceptable fuel for emergency systems and whether there are guidelines for accepting or rejecting this continuous fuel source. To this question, the respondents identified AHJ & fire marshal by 36 percent, but 43 perecent were uncertain. None of the respondents provided guidance regarding guidelines for acceptance. This highlights some of the challenges that are created when the code uses subjective language and provides little guidance regarding reliability. To that end, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) created a guideline regarding the evaluation of natural gas generators for nursing homes. The reliability of a natural gas fuel source can be proven with a letter from the natural gas vendor that contains the following:

  • A statement that the fuel source is reasonably reliable
  • A description supporting the assertion that the source is reasonably reliable
  • A statement of the low likelihood of an interruption
  • A description supporting the assertion that the likelihood of interruption is low
  • A signature from technical personnel

Similar processes, which leverage a letter from the local gas utility, are often utilized by the AHJ community when natural gas reliability is perceived as questionable within the market. Another method for determining reliability may leverage the guidance given for determining electric utility reliability in fire pump applications. NFPA 20 A.9.3.2 defines reliable as not having experienced any shutdowns longer than four continuous hours in the year prior to planning. This standard does not require the utility source to be infallible; it only requires a utility source free from routine outages. Using these criteria, most natural gas systems across the United States should be deemed reliable.

What is your personal perception of natural gas?

The last question focused on each attendee’s personal perception of natural gas reliability. Fifty-five percent of the respondents felt natural gas was favorable to diesel with 38 percent uncertain. This relatively high perception of natural gas reliability is influenced by personal experiences with hurricanes Irene and Sandy, both of which destroyed the long-standing conventional wisdom that diesel fuel delivery was assured even during the most severe emergencies. Both storms caused enough damage to the petroleum supply networks, making refueling requirements a challenge. Hurricane Sandy devastated fuel terminals across the Northeast. Even if a delivery truck was able to get to a terminal, it was unlikely it would be able to obtain fuel. The available fuel and trucks within the region were often redirected by the government to hospitals and targeted emergency response facilities.

It is incorrect to conclude that diesel fuel, simply by its on-site presence, is more reliable than natural gas. A reliable fuel supply is one that is consistently available in sufficient quantity and quality to ensure reliable emergency power. It is necessary to holistically examine external factors influencing the relative reliability of natural gas and diesel.

The Boston NFPA conference allowed Generac a great opportunity to explore these topics directly with a cross section of the AHJ community. These insights help illustrate that natural gas acceptance continues to grow within markets that have an established natural gas infrastructure. In these markets, the resulting awareness and acceptance of natural gas-fueled emergency generators is quite high.

For more information, contact South Shore Generator in Wareham, MA.

Source: generac.com

Diesel Generators are Built for the Most Critical Jobs

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, September 05, 2017
South Shore Generator - KOLHER Diesel Generators

Think about the most important places in the world: hospitals, airports, data centers, water treatment plants, etc. Those are the places we protect. The ones that absolutely have to have power—no matter what.

And with diesel generators ranging from 10 to 4000 kW, there’s no job too small, no building too big. KOHLER diesel generators are available EPA-certified. And you can customize them any way you like with a variety of accessories.

  • EMISSION-CERTIFIED - EPA-certified, industrialgrade engines meet the latest emissions requirements
  • HIGH-AMBIENT COOLING - Designed to meet extreme operating conditions
  • KOHLER PMG ALTERNATORS - Provide advanced short-circuit capability and meet NEMA MG 1, IEEE and ANSI standards
  • KOHLER DECISION-MAKER® - CONTROLS Available with a variety of controls–basic, advanced and paralleling
  • OPTIONS AND ACCESSORIES - Improved motor-starting alternators, heavy-duty air cleaners, enclosures, fuel tanks, block heaters, multiple circuit breakers and more.

For more information on diesel industrial generators, contact South Shore Generator in Wareham, MA.

source: resources.kohler.com


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