How Standby Generators Work

Overview of Standby Generator Systems

In today's fast-paced world, uninterrupted standby power is not just a luxury but a necessity. Power outages can occur unexpectedly, leaving homeowners without essential amenities such as heating, cooling, lighting, and access to electronic devices. Standby generator systems have emerged as a reliable solution, providing homeowners with a commercial-grade backup power.

This article aims to provide homeowners with a comprehensive overview of standby generator systems, enabling you to make informed decisions about your backup power needs. Whether you live in an area prone to frequent power outages or simply want to ensure uninterrupted power for your family, this information will prove invaluable.

Cummins liquid-cooled home standby genertor

Moreover, this article will address frequently asked questions regarding standby generator systems, such as their environmental impact, cost-effectiveness, and compatibility with renewable energy sources. We will highlight the benefits of investing in a standby generator system, including increased home value, peace of mind, and the ability to carry on with daily routines even during extended power outages.

By the end of this article, homeowners will have a clear understanding of the benefits and features of commercial-grade standby generator systems. Homeowners will be equipped with the knowledge necessary to select the right system for their specific needs and confidently navigate the installation process. Uninterrupted power will no longer be a concern, allowing homeowners to focus on what truly matters – the safety, comfort, and well-being of their families.


Components of a Standby Generator

Let’s take a deep dive into the various components that make up a commercial-grade home standby generator from Cummins Power Generation. Understanding these components will enable homeowners to make informed decisions when it comes to selecting a reliable and efficient backup power solution for their homes.

  1. Engine: The heart of any standby generator is its engine. Cummins home standby generators are typically equipped with powerful engines that can run for extended periods without compromising performance. These engines are designed to handle the demands of continuous operation, ensuring a steady and reliable power supply.
  2. Alternator: The alternator is responsible for converting mechanical energy from the engine into electrical energy. It consists of a rotor and a stator, which work together to generate an alternating current (AC) output. The alternator's quality and efficiency play a crucial role in determining the overall performance of the generator. Cummins Power Generation manufactures its own alternators rather than outsourcing this important component to third parties.
  3. Control Panel: The control panel is the brain of the standby generator. It allows homeowners to monitor and control various functions of the generator, such as starting and stopping, checking fuel levels, and adjusting settings. All Cummins home standby generators also offer remote monitoring capabilities, allowing users to monitor their generator's status from anywhere using a smartphone or computer.
  4. Fuel System: Standby generators can be powered by various fuels, including natural gas, propane, and diesel. The fuel system comprises components such as the fuel tank, fuel lines, and fuel pump. It is essential to consider the availability and cost of the chosen fuel type when selecting a standby generator for your home. Cummins Power Generation offers a range of generators fueled by natural gas, propane, or diesel with most homeowners choosing natural gas or propane.
  5. Transfer Switch: A transfer switch is a critical component that ensures a seamless transition from utility power to generator power during a power outage. It automatically detects when the utility power fails and activates the generator, supplying power to the home. When utility power is restored, the transfer switch safely switches back to the grid.
  6. Cooling System: Standby generators generate a significant amount of heat during operation. To prevent overheating, a cooling system is incorporated into the generator design. This system typically includes an air-cooled or liquid-cooled system that maintains the optimum temperature for efficient operation.

Understanding the components of a commercial-grade home standby generator from Cummins is essential for homeowners looking to invest in a reliable backup power solution. By considering the quality and performance of these components, homeowners can ensure they select a generator that meets their power requirements and provides uninterrupted power during times of emergencies.

In the world we live in today, a power outage can occur at any time and severely disrupt our daily lives. Whether it's due to a severe storm, a grid failure, or any other unforeseen circumstances, being left without electricity can be a major inconvenience and even a safety hazard for homeowners. However, with a home standby generator from Cummins, you can ensure uninterrupted power for your household.

Transfer Switches and Automatic Power Restoration

One crucial component of a standby generator system is the automatic transfer switch or ATS. The ATS acts as a bridge between the utility power and the generator power. It automatically detects when the utility power goes out and seamlessly transfers the load to the generator, ensuring that your home continues to receive electricity without any interruption.

Cummins RA-Series Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS)

The transfer switch works by constantly monitoring the utility power. When a loss of power is detected, it initiates the process of switching the electrical load to the generator. This is done to protect your appliances and electrical systems from potential damage due to fluctuating voltages during power restoration.

When utility power is finally restored, the generator will continue supplying power to your home for about 5-minutes just in case utility power drops out again. The transfer switch then transitions house electrical loads back to the utility grid and shuts down the generator. The automated process ensures that homeowners don't have to manually switch between power sources, providing peace of mind and convenience during power outages.

Furthermore, commercial-grade home standby generators equipped with automatic power restoration capabilities take the benefits of an ATS to the next level. Cummins home standby generators are designed to automatically test themselves periodically to ensure they are in proper working condition. Additionally, they can be programmed to start and run for a few minutes periodically to keep the engine lubricated and ready for action.

The automatic power restoration feature is a game-changer for homeowners. As soon as the utility power is restored, the generator will automatically shut off, and the ATS switches electrical loads back to the utility power. You can be away at work or on vacation while having the peace of mind knowing your Cummins home standby generator performs flawlessly and automatically without manual intervention.

Fuel Options for Standby Generators

When it comes to selecting a fuel option for your Cummins home standby generator, there are several factors to consider. The choice you make will not only impact the performance and reliability of your generator but also your overall energy costs and environmental impact. Here are the various fuel options available for standby generators.

  1. Natural Gas (NG): If you live in a metropolitan area or city, chances are your home has access to natural gas (NG) from your utility company. A licensed plumbing or mechanical contractor can install a fuel line from your gas meter to the generator, thus providing an endless supply of fuel for your standby generator.

    Natural gas is the most popular option for city-dwellers and there are no refueling worries as with LP and Diesel generators. Additionally, natural gas burns cleaner, reducing emissions and environmental impact.

    Generators running on NG or LP are available in sizes up to 150kW.

  2. Liquid Propane (LP): If you live in a rural area, natural gas may not be available. However, the same natural gas generator can be configured to receive LP fuel. LP gas is a cleaner fuel and enables air-cooled generators to produce a bit more power. For example, the Cummins RS20A air-cooled generator is rated at 18kW on natural gas, and 20kW on LP. So, expect a bit of a boost in available power for air-cooled generators. Most liquid-cooled generators are rated the same on natural gas or LP.

    Keep in mind that LP requires a fuel tank, generally available in sizes up to 1000 gallons and higher. Because LP gas is a high-pressure fuel, usable fuel is generally 80% of the tank size. So, a 1000-gallon LP tank holds around 800 gallons maximum.

    If you are experiencing a long-duration power outage, keep in touch with your LP gas provider for refueling needs.

  3. Diesel: The gold standard for standby power is diesel. These engines are rugged, robust, and designed for reliability.

    Cummins diesel engines and generators are found in the trucking and marine industries. Marine diesel engines run 24/7 and for weeks at a time. To illustrate, Bering Yachts chose Cummins to run the twin engines of much of its yacht fleet. Most expedition yachts are capable of cruising distances of 4,000+ nautical miles at cruise speeds of around 8 - 10 knots or voyages lasting up to 22 days without refueling. Bering Yachts chose Cummins because of its reliability and leadership in the industry. The yacht manufacturer also uses Cummins Marine Diesel Generators to power the ship while at anchor.

    Diesel generators are available in sizes from 20kW to 2 megawatts. You will find Cummins diesel generators at hospitals, airports, data centers, and industrial applications.

    Most diesel generators are available with a 24-hour sub-base fuel tank. Larger tank sizes up to 72 hours are also available.

When selecting a fuel option for your standby generator, it is crucial to consider factors such as fuel availability, cost, reliability, and environmental impact. Buckeye Power Systems can help you assess your specific needs and guide you towards the most suitable fuel option for your home standby generator.

Generator fuel type comparison chart

Regular maintenance is crucial for optimal generator performance. Be sure to follow manufacturer guidelines and schedule routine inspections to ensure your generator is always ready to provide uninterrupted power when you need it most.

Brief Recap

Air-cooled generators are designed to get you through shorter duration power outages without breaking the bank. While these generators will run continuously for days, it’s a good idea to shut down the engine periodically for engine cooling.

Liquid-cooled generators can run multiple air conditioners at the same time and offer better engine cooling technologies making it an ideal solution for short- and long-term power outages.

Diesel generators are also liquid-cooled, but more robust for reliable standby power lasting days or weeks.

Keep in mind, most standby generators require an oil-change after 200 hours of engine run time. Your generator will be due for an oil and filter change following a week-long power outage.

Our next article covers the differences between Whole House and Managed Whole House generator coverage as well as Partial House coverage for Just the Essentials.

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