Generators are formidable machines, powering electric needs in any condition from the bitter cold of winter to the heat summer brings. During these extreme seasons, it is vital to maintain these units to ensure their performance is up to par.

With winter on the horizon, it is a good time to start thinking about winterizing your generator, whether you plan to use the unit through the winter months or put it in storage.

Winter Operations

There are four main items to consider when winterizing generators for use during the cold months: the correct fuel, engine oil, cold weather kits and the application itself.

Fuel

1.  When temperatures fall below 32 degrees F: use winter grade fuel, No. 1-D in the U.S., which is best suited for cold weather operation. Winter grade fuel has a lower cloud point and a lower pour point.

2.  Use approved diesel fuel additives with anti-gel characteristics.

Engine Oil

1.  A quality synthetic-based engine oil is designed to provide excellent lubrication from startup for temperatures as low as -13 degrees F. The difference between a synthetic and mineral oil is the synthetic can be used in extreme hot and cold temperatures. In many instances the oil life is extended with a synthetic or a synthetic blend.

Cold Weather Kits

1.  Some generators come standard with engine block heaters and engine breather heaters. It is crucial to use these during winter operation or the unit will falter.

2.  Other generator manufacturers offer cold weather kits as
an option because generators in the South do not require these items.

Application

1.  Following the first three steps, you are ready to go to work with your generator unit.

2.  Ensure the generator — and this can be applied for any other time of the year — is sized appropriately for the application. This is even more important in the wintertime as damage can result quicker in freezing temperatures.

Storage

Many companies continue to rent or use their portable power products through the winter months. But, for companies looking to store their generator units, there is some attention needed to allow these machines to easily start up again come springtime. When putting generators in storage, make sure to complete these 10 steps:

1.  Drain the fuel tanks. If the diesel fuel is going to stay in the unit’s fuel tank, a quality winter fuel additive should be used.

2.  Store the generator in a dry, well-ventilated and frost-
free room.

3.  Run the engine weekly until warm.

4.  Remove the battery and store in a dry, frost free room.

5.  Keep the battery clean and its terminals lightly covered with petroleum jelly.

6.  Recharge the battery regularly.

7.  Clean the generator and protect all electrical components against moisture.

8.  Place silica gel bags, Volatile Corrosion Inhibitor (VCI)
paper or another drying agent inside the generator and close the doors.

9.  Stick sheets of VCI paper with adhesive tape on the bodywork to close off all openings.

10.  Wrap the generator with a plastic bag except for the bottom.

Remember these machines are an investment. Regardless of your generator plans through the cold months, take some time to go over all of the proper winterizing steps to be prepared when winter strikes. This ensures a long service life and ultimately will pay you back in the long run – otherwise known as a wise investment.   

Rob Walsh, Technical Service Provider

Chicago Pneumatic Construction Equipment