A portable generator is one of the simple luxuries in life that we are thankful for. If there is an emergency power outage, it will provide the electricity that you need for powering small appliances, such as a fan to keep you cool. It is also a great investment for outdoor enthusiasts as it provides a portable electricity supply wherever you are.
After some time of using a portable generator, it will experience a gradual decline in performance. This does not mean that it is time to buy a new one! Instead, you should pay attention to its care and maintenance. This article briefly lists down some of the best things that you can do to make sure that your generator will demonstrate optimal performance.
1. Cover the Generator
While a portable generator is meant to be used in outdoor activities like camping and tailgating, it does not mean that you should leave it out in the open. Especially when it is raining, you need to protect the generator. Position it somewhere there is shade or cover. Prevent it from getting wet. Otherwise, water penetration can damage the electrical components. Not to mention, it is also a safety hazard. Nonetheless, this does not mean that you should operate it in an enclosed space. It can emit toxic gases, which can be poisonous. It should be used in a well-ventilated area.
2. Clean it Regularly
Regular cleaning is one of the most important requirements in the maintenance of a portable generator. The process varies. Read the manual and follow the cleaning instructions from the manufacturer. The first thing to do is to disassemble the generator and clean the parts you have removed. When cleaning the electronic components, do not use any liquid. Do not use a power washer or hose. Even if the components can be wet, the best thing to do is use a damp cloth. Do not submerge the portable generator in water. Use a brush with soft bristles to clean hard to reach areas.
3. Check and Replace the Oil
Like in a conventional generator, oil is one of the most important in maximizing the performance of a portable generator. If it runs dry, then it can cause serious damage to the engine. Most of the modern generators will have a low-oil shutdown feature. Meaning, they will automatically stop once it detects that oil is at a dangerously low level. Check the oil level before using the generator. Changing oil is also necessary after 50 to 100 hours of use. The exact interval will depend on what the manufacturer suggests.
4. Clean and Change Air Filters
Aside from oil, another important part of the portable generator that you need to check and replace when needed is the air filter. It prevents the generator from sucking dirt and debris, which can negatively impact its performance. Over time, there will be a build-up of particles, which will also minimize the effectiveness of the filter. Once it becomes dirty, clean the filter to restore its performance. If it reaches a point beyond saving, then consider a replacement. There are some portable generators wherein the filter cannot be cleaned and hence, you have no other option but to have it replaced.
5. Empty the Tank
Once you are done using the generator, empty the fuel tank. This is especially important for long-term storage. However, do not just dump the fuel anywhere as it can be a fire risk. Instead, transfer it in a safe container. You can still use the fuel in the future. Storing the fuel in the tank for a long time can result in gum deposits. This happens when the fuel becomes sticky. It can make it harder for the generator to deliver a good performance.
6. Monitor the Wattage
First, look at the manual and check the recommended wattage capacity by the manufacturer. Make sure that it is observed throughout the use of the portable generator. Going beyond the recommended wattage means that the generator will need to exert extra effort. This can speed up wear, compromise performance, and result in safety issues. So, do not plug more appliances than what the portable generator can support. Overloading the generator is dangerous.
7. Plug Appliances Directly
One of the most common mistakes that a lot of first-time users commit is to use an extension cord. This should be avoided. Instead, you should plug the appliances directly into the socket of the generator. This is also a good way to prevent the generator from overloading. If you have no choice but to use an extension cord, then make sure that you are using the right one. It should be thick enough so that it can support the power requirements of the generator and the appliances.
8. Clean the Spark Arrester
This small wire brush is another crucial component of your portable generator. It requires regular maintenance and replacement as it has a huge impact on the overall performance of the generator. Start by removing this component depending on the steps recommended by the manufacturer. Once it is disconnected from the unit, clean it using a wire brush. Do not use cleaning agents and harsh chemicals. The brush alone will be enough to get rid of the deposits around the spark arrester. Check the original spark arrester that comes with the portable generator and make sure to find the exact one if you will have it replaced.
In sum, using a portable generator requires a long-term commitment, specifically when it comes to care and maintenance. Keeping it clean requires a proactive approach. There are also parts that will need replacements, such as air filters and spark arresters. By doing the things mentioned above, it is easier to ensure the best performance while also preventing safety hazards. Not to mention, it will prolong the functional life of your portable generator and avoid costly repairs.