Everyone knows that electric generators are indispensable as a source of usable mechanical energy. Why, electric generators are remarkably versatile for use in various situations.
It doesn’t matter whether you need electricity to do some local work or merely need it to perform personal matters at home; all you need is an electric generator and- in a flash- your problems are solved!
But there’s a secret that every electric generator user needs to know- as they say, knowledge is power- you must get informed and learn about how best these machines work. Yes, you need every bit of information to make the most use of your generator. You must exploit the machine to its full potential.
We hope that you’ll have such a useful resource at the end of this post. But first, what comes to mind when you think about an electric generator?
Get to Know Your Electric Generator
Although we use generators at one time or another, this question is still valid: What is an electric generator? Simply put, this is a machine that can transform mechanical energy, changing it into electrical energy. This process is achieved through fuel combustion. Of course, some have said that the use of generators is harmful to our environment. Regardless, these machines come with many advantages to many industrial users.
Those who are familiar with generator mechanisms simply refer to the engine generator as a “Genset.” Overall, generators are usually rated either in torque or horsepower, Kilowatts, or watts. The engine-driven generator has an engine as a primary component. It also has a constant speed regulator, a cooling and exhaust system, a generator voltage regulator, a fuel supply mechanism, and a lubrication system.
Generator Fuel Choices
Most generators use the following fuel sources: Diesel, gasoline, propane, natural gas, water, biodiesel, hydrogen, or sewage gas. Small-size generators usually use diesel or petrol (gasoline) as fuel. Many larger engines use diesel or propane (natural gas). Other engines are simultaneously run using both diesel and gas (at the same time).
This is How Your Generator Creates Much-Needed Electricity
You certainly know that electric generators are typically standalone machines that produce electricity whenever we cannot get power from our local grid. Industrial generators mostly work to supply backup power to businesses, facilities, or homes whenever there’s a power outage.
Nevertheless, generators may be used as a principal source of power wherever the local power grid is inaccessible or unavailable (like in mining, construction, and farming activities).
Of course, you can buy a generator to serve you in any urgent situation. Thus, you can get small, portable generators to use for camping or when you go to other outings. These generators can produce a limited amount of power to run a few devices. Other generators are primarily permanent installations that can run home appliances.
As noted, industrial generators are more powerful and produce lots of electricity to run hospitals, manufacturing industries, and office complexes. Among these are natural generators, propane generators, bi-fuel, and diesel generators. It’s crucial to know how generators function as well as how to install and maintain them.
The Electromagnetic Features of a Typical Generator
Interestingly, generators do not actually produce electricity . Rather, they convert chemical or mechanical energy into electrical energy. How do they do this? By capturing motion power and transforming it into electrical energy. Further, this is done by forcing electrons through an electrical circuit from an external source. Thus, a generator is actually a reverse-working electric motor.
Certain electrical generators (like the Hoover Dam generators) can produce massive amounts of energy. How? They transfer power (from water turbines) into electricity. Generally, smaller commercial and residential generators use traditional fuel (like diesel, propane, and gas) to produce mechanical power. This is forced into a circuit, inducing an electrical current. Once the current is established, it goes through copper wires to power external machines, electrical systems, or devices.
Yes, basically, an electrical generator is really an electromagnet- which is a moving wire placed near a magnet to direct a flow of electricity. That’s it!
Types of Generators
The following types of generators are generally available for your use:
- Home Standby.
- Inverter generator.
- Portable generator.
- Portable Power Station.
Home Standby Generators
These types of generators are permanently installed and powered by propane or natural gas. During an outage, they start automatically.
The units are generally costly and should be installed by a professional. You can hire an experienced electrician to help with municipal or town permits, proper location, and noise restrictions. The machines supply more power than most other units. They can run a self-diagnosis and inform you when maintenance is due (by text or email).
Portable Generators (Conventional)
These units usually cost less than home standby generators. They run on gasoline. For prolonged gasoline storage, you should add a stabilizer. The units can be used anywhere on the property. However, they should never be used in an enclosed space. Why? Most of these generators can quickly produce deadly carbon monoxide.
Thus, you should run them not less than 20 feet away from home. Use equipment such as a window AC or central AC condenser. Moreover, it would be best to direct the exhaust from home (including the neighbors’ home.) They can provide 3,000 to 8,500 watts.
Inverter Generators come with more complex engines and therefore cost way more than portable generators. They are generally quieter than traditional generators since they throttle up and down according to demand. Moreover, they come with more sophisticated exhaust systems for a noiseless effect. They are efficiently run and have fewer emissions.
Portable Power Stations
Inverter generators don’t use gas or propane. They are, instead, powered by a rechargeable battery (a portable power station). You can charge this by plugging it into an electrical outlet or a solar panel.
These devices operate quietly, almost noiselessly. They have no fuel emissions and cannot produce harmful gases like carbon monoxide. Thus, they are ideal for use indoors and outdoors.
You won’t power many appliances with these or run them for a long time. You won’t have any issues starting it- there’s really nothing to start! Yes, a power station is more like your cell phone’s battery pack.
Portable and inverter generators can usually be moved around. You get them in different sizes. You can use them for tailgating transportation or home backup power.
Portable power stations are essentially large batteries for storing electricity for emergency needs.
Selecting the Most Eco-Friendly (CARB and EPA Compliant) Generator
Some ask: What are CARB and EPA compliance? Why does it matter to achieve CARB and EPA compliance? Essentially, these respected regulators are the ones who guide the generator manufacturers to prepare safe products for consumers.
So, why is CARB and EPA compliance important?
Reduction of Noise, Air Pollution
CARB and EPA compliance helps to reduce air pollution and other environmental problems while using a generator. This protects the user’s health and general well-being (particularly respiratory health).
If you use a non-CARB compliant generator in California or a non-EPA compliant generator elsewhere in the US, you risk attracting a huge fine.
CARB and EPA compliant generators minimize the emission of harmful substances. They produce clean energy and are reliable, durable, and fuel-efficient.
When purchasing a generator, check the manufacturer’s specifications to confirm it’s CARB and EPA compliant. Whether you live in California or not, it’s advisable to get a CARB compliant generator. Thus, you’ll be safer.
Yes, if you want the most environmentally friendly generator, choose a generator that matches EPA and CARB standards; period!
Are Propane Generators Generally More Eco-Friendly?
Well, environmentally-speaking, propane is more eco-friendly than fossil-based fuels. This is because using propane comes with fewer carbon emissions. Yes, it’s definitely safer to use- a properly functioning LPG appliance. Why? It produces less carbon monoxide and other toxic fumes.
Be cautious, however; propane gas fumes are generally flammable and potentially explosive. Since some carbon monoxide is still produced during “incomplete combustion,” propane generators should never be used indoors—just like all other types of gensets, they should be installed outdoors only- Never indoors.
Ecological Disadvantages of Electric Generators
Overall, the disadvantages of electric generators are tied to the disadvantages of fossil fuels. Consider these few:
Fossil fuels contribute to global warming. They release harmful by-products into the atmosphere when burned (greenhouse gases). These include carbon dioxide. CO2 helps trap lots of heat into the atmosphere, producing negative weather patterns (like hotter temperatures, erratic rainfall, and droughts).
Fossil fuels are typically a non-renewable source of energy – unlike solar, geothermal, and wind power. They are limited in availability and take millions of years to be formed.
Humankind is using too many fossil fuels; this is happening too quickly. Thus, this form of energy is unsustainable.
Due to government incentives, fossil fuels have become cheaper and more affordable to many. Actually, World governments use a whopping $5.2 trillion to supplement fossil fuels!
The use of fossil fuels has caused terrible accidents over the decades. These include exploding drilling platforms, dumping massive amounts of oil into oceans, and oil pipeline leaks. As long as humankind continues to use fossil fuels, this situation will remain the same.
Notably, alternative energy sources are now becoming more affordable and reliable. Furthermore, there is an added advantage in using them since they do not emit CO2 while powering our lives.
Advantages of Fossil Fuels
But, fossil fuels come with the following notable advantages:
Experts use advanced technology to harness fossil fuels (like modern oil rigs and drilling equipment). They can, therefore, continue to use this traditional form of energy using modern, innovative methods.
Overall, fossil fuels are cheap and reliable. Governments generally subsidize them. They are more reliable compared to wind power or solar energy. You can burn them during the day or night regardless of weather patterns.
Clearly, portable generators continue to be considered the most affordable electricity source in 2021 and beyond. Moreover, they are inexpensive and widely affordable compared to solar panels, wind turbines, and power stations.
It’s important to note that while gasoline is a non-renewable source of energy, producing batteries for power stations and solar panels is generally not sustainable. Thus, choose the most appropriate generator for your needs. Ensure to get a high-quality CARB and EPA compliant product, regardless of whether you live in California or other parts of the US. This will always keep you safe.