Running a generator in parallel vs. buying a larger generator
While portable generators are usually more fuel-efficient and versatile, the majority are unable to power huge gadgets such as a 15,000 BTU air conditioner. If you need more power on your travel trailer or RV and your current generator is insufficient, one of the options you may want to consider is to parallel two generators.
Paralleling a generator involves connecting two generators using a dedicated parallel kit or cable, doubling the power output. However, not all types of generators can be paralleled. Before you decide to run 2 generators in parallel, there are a few things you need to know.
Why should you run two parallel generators when you can buy one large generator? There are several reasons why campers choose to parallel their generators instead of buying one large generator.
One of the most common reasons is that they may already have one smaller generator that they may realize isn’t meeting their power sully need. To save on cost, they choose to buy another smaller one to handle their power needs rather than disposing of their current generator.
Besides the small and portable generators are usually more fuel-efficient and quieter than the large-sized generators. Running two parallel generators will also ensure that if one of them fails, you will be generating power from the second one.
The two generators will also provide you with more flexibility. If your power need goes down, you can use one of the generators. When your power demands go up, you can run two generators in parallel.
Can you run two different generator brands in parallel?
It’s possible to run different generator brands in parallel. But for the best results, we recommend running generators from the same manufacturer in parallel. You can find some of the best generators that can be paralleled on this camping generator review.
The best options for paralleling are the inverter generators. This is because they can be run parallel, are fuel-efficient, and are portable. Inverter generators are also quiet and have an eco-mode that allows for the variation of the throttle power.
Factors to consider before you can parallel two portable generators
Before you consider running two generators in parallel, you will want to ensure that the two generators are compactable. There are a few factors you need to consider. These include:
You should ensure that the generators to be paralleled have a similar engine capacity. The engine size is indicated in kilowatts. This can help to prevent a system overload.
The alternators should function together without causing damage or disrupting the flow of current between them, for the generators to be compatible. If there is a mismatch in the frequency, it can cause the lower frequency generator to overload the higher frequency generator, in a process known as motoring.
Load sharing is the proportional Kw total load in a generator of two generators in parallel. The entire load needs to be shared by both generators depending on the frequency of the individual units. Load sharing helps to avoid stability and overloading problems.
You should ensure that it’s easy to synchronize the system
depending on the load demand, powering a set with an increase in demand and switching off the set when there is a demand reduction.
Ensure that the generators have equal engine speed and should be locked in the final system speed. When two generators are in parallel, the speed governor determines the share of active power needed by the system.
Make sure that you are complying with the necessary electrical standards for operation, protection, and safety of the generator.The easiest way to parallel generators is to use the same brands and models.
How to connect 2 generators in parallel
When running 2 generators in parallel, you will want to ensure that you have the right connection setup. The setup may include a direct parallel port connection, external parallel generator kit, or DIY parallel system.
For the successful synchronization of two parallel generators, you should ensure that both generators have a matching output waveform. This can be done using the brighter lamp or synchroscope method. This involves using a tool that indicates the generator’s synchrony. It determines if there are differences in phase angles of the two systems.
When you are sure that the two portable generators can be synchronized, you should:
- Start the generator that is to be connected. Ensure that the first alternator is already supplying power to the bus bar at the rated frequency and voltage
- Connect lamps. This is a stage that helps to determine if the compatibility conditions are met. When the lamps go off, it’s an indication that all conditions are verified.
- The incoming second alternator should be connected in parallel with the first alternator. When you increase the alternator’s speed, this will vary the frequency and the speed will be adjusted until it meets the frequency of the bar ( or of the first alternator). Besides, when the field rheostat changes the second alternator’s voltage will be changed. Therefore, this should be adjusted until it reaches the voltage of the bus bar
- Ensure that the 3 voltages produced by the second alternator are phase to the respective bus bar voltage. You can achieve this by having a similar frequency phase.
If you still it the process hard, you don’t have to worry as today, there are technological advances that have made the old synchronization methods to become obsolete.
Generator manufacturer includes a cable that can be inserted into a slot for paralleling
These connectors are usually proprietary and are manufactured in a way they can only be plugged into the compatible machine. You cannot use a parallel cable from one company on a different company’s generator.
The parallel kits help to analyze the important synchronization process, output, and inputs of load, load balancing, and more. However, the equipment may require pre-programming by a qualified technician. After they are programmed, they carry out the synchronization process and control the different parameters in real-time. This ensures that the whole synchronization process is performed safely and automatically.
Safety precautions when paralleling
Any two generators can be run in parallel but it’s important to take the necessary precaution when going outside the manufacturer’s recommendation or brand. The majority of generator manufacturers will indicate that you can only parallel with the same brand, model, and make.
This isn’t a way to make money but they have your best interest at heart. It will make it easy for you to run the generators in apparel and to stay safe. Like we have already seen, the manufacturer will often provide a parallel generator kit. The latest generator models even come with ports built for paralleling.
However, this doesn’t mean, you can’t parallel any two compatible generators. If you need to go this route, you should ensure that all connections are set securely and safely. Ensure that the generators have equal ratings in wattage and capabilities. But in this case, we recommend that you seek the help of a licensed technician. Alternatively, you should only stick to the manufacturer’s recommendation.
With a well-designed system, you can have backup power with a variable output to meet the demands of your RV. To achieve the maximum output during peak power demand, you will need to parallel two generators. You can then run one generator when there is a low load requirement.
However, setting up two generators manually can be a complex process. There is a need for effective load sharing and proper synchronization. While many manufacturers are including the necessary parallel kit, there is no harm in understanding how to do it in case you have those old generator models.