How to care for your Electric Generator set

Electric Generator

If you are like me that lives in an area where there is epileptic power supply from the national grid then you most certainly have an electric generator set.

Electric generating sets are very costly these days, most people cannot afford them but if you can afford one then you have to take good care of it so that it can last much longer for you.

Whether you are using your generator for business or at home, giving it good maintenance will make you get the very best out of it. Maintenance of your electric generating set starts even from the time you go to purchase it. Why did I say this, you must know your energy needs, before planning to purchase a generator. My safe rule is this;  buy a generating set that is  twice the capacity of your energy needs. For instance, if the energy needs of all your appliances is 2000 watts,  then buy a generator of around 4000 watt capacity. Don’t go and buy a generator of a 1000 watt capacity because no amount of maintenance will make that generator last because its capacity is too small for the load you are subjecting it to.

Should you purchase a new or fairly used generator

In the course of my life I have purchased several electric generating sets both new and fairly used and my verdict is this:

Don’t buy fairly used generating sets, it won’t pay you in the long run. Most of these type of generators have  lost their original quality value and they do have a problem that is why the owner decided to sell it. So by  buying it, you just inherited the problem.  You will most likely end up making several repairs on the generator and at the end of the day it becomes a burden. It’s not worth it. Just save up and buy a brand new generator, that’s the best, whether you are using it for business or for home use.

How to buy original electric generator

If you want to buy a good high-quality generating set then go for one that has a very original branding. The branding, the logo of the manufacturers must be engraved into the body parts of the generating sets not just pasted only. Sometimes it pays if you do a little research before you go and purchase. Ask people who have generator sets or those that repair them about how you can identify an original generator in the market. Read the information that is written on the body and packaging,  it can give you  useful clues as per the originality and capacity of the generator. Don’t always believe what the dealer tells you.

How to maintain your generator

All brand new generators come with a service manual that shows you when to service your generator and what parts you should clean, service or change. There are some forms of generator service you can do yourself and there are others you will have to contact a qualified technician.

Generator service you can do yourself

If you are using the gasoline generator then you can service these 3 things yourself

  1. Change or clean the air foam filter.
  2. Clean or change the spark plug
  3. Change the engine oil

The air foam filter can be cleaned after every 50 hours of use. Air foam filter purifies the air that goes into the generator and is usually located beside the carburettor. It is cleaned by washing the dirty foam  in a high flash solvent such as kerosene, then dipping in clean engine oil and squeezing out excess engine oil.

The spark plug should be serviced every 3 months or so. To service a spark plug just to remove it and clean any dirt that is inside of it then put it back. Spark plug ensures the smooth running of the generator. If your generator is experiencing hard starting or is struggling to carry electrical load that it normally does easily before,  then one of the first checks to make is that of the spark plug.

Change the engine oil of your generator  with a brand new oil of motor quality every month if you use it everyday or every two days. The function of engine oil is to clean its internal parts, give it lubrication and cool it down during use. When the colour of the engine oil has become dark or black then it is due for changing.

Also, watch out for nuts and bolts that may come off the body of the generator during use and fix them back. During normal working conditions, the generator can sometimes experience heavy vibrations which can cause screws, nuts and bolts to loosen over time.

Other types of service such as service of the carburettor or repair of engine parts should be done by qualified personnel.

How to care for your Electrical Petrol Generator

Caring for your electrical generating set to make it last longer.I will discuss this topic under 4 subtopics namely;

  • Purchasing a good generator
  • Changing the engine oil
  • Changing the spark plug
  • Loading the generator 
  • Don’t let it run out of fuel

Purchasing a good generator

If you want your electrical generator to last, then make sure you purchase an original. An original generator that is badly managed will still last up to a year, and if properly managed can be useful for years (  3 years at least ).

A fake generator will last only a couple of months even if properly maintained. A fake generator is called so because it is made up of low quality materials. It may cost less but it usually won’t be worth it at the end of the day. Don’t rush to purchase a generator, take your time to search, check and scrutinize. If you really can’t differentiate an original from fake, sincerely talk to the dealer to give you an original product with guarantee. Be ready to spend more to obtain an original product, it pays.

Changing the engine oil.

This is the main maintenance secret. If you want your electrical generating set to last then change its engine oil every month with good quality oil( that is if you use it regularly). Never run the generator on low engine oil. Before you start your generator, always check the engine oil level using the dip stick. If it is low, fill it up to the required gauge with good quality oil. Don’t over gauge. The engine oil is the life of your machine, don’t run it on low oil, and low quality oil.

Changing the spark plug

All petrol generators are fitted with a spark plug. The Spark plug makes the engine run smoothly delivering maximum efficiency. Most of the time when the engine will not start it is because the spark plug is faulty. Also when the engine is not running smoothly and quietly, the spark plug is usually the culprit. So if you notice that your electrical generating set won’t start, or starts after several attempts, or does not run smoothly and quietly as before, check and change the spark plug if necessary.

Loading the generator.

Generators are rated based on the electrical loads they can handle. The ratings are clearly stated on the body or packaging of the generator. A generator with a rating of say 2.5 Kva or 2.5 kw  means that is the maximum electrical load it can handle safely. From experience don’t load your generator above half of its stated rating.  For instance if a generator rating states 3kva, then don’t use it to power electrical appliances adding up to more than 1.5kva. Doing this won’t put much stress on the engine and will make it last longer.

Don’t Let Your generator run out of fuel

Do not form the habit of letting your generator run out of fuel. If you use a diesel generator then, Never let it run out of fuel because you will always need a qualified technician to restart the engine for you anytime it occurs. If you use a petrol engine; you can still restart it when it runs out of fuel but if you form the habit of doing so, the carburetor will damage quickly and soon you will not be able to restart the generator when it occurs again without the help of a technician. 

What is & Maintenance of Internal Combustion Engines

What is Internal Combustion Engine

Internal combustion engine

Do you have an internal combustion engine. The answer is probably YES. 

An internal combustion engine uses fuel such as petrol or diesel to generate power/motion.

It does so by burning the fuel internally under controlled conditions. As the fuel is being burnt a large explosion occurs inside the cylinder of the engine (where the pistons are located). Because this large explosion occurs inside the engine this phenomenon gives it the name ; Internal combustion engine. The force from the explosion moves the piston in an up and down motion which inturn transfers power to where it is needed. For instance in a car engine, the force from the explosion moves the pistons which inturn enables the car to move on the road.

The process by which fuel is burnt and the explosion that occurs and consequently the movement of the pistons is a fast and continuous process and lasts as long as the engine is on.

Examples of things that are powered by internal combustion engines are;


Motor car

Generator set ( that generates electricity)



Mechanical power saw



Ships and boats


Mechanical grinder

Mechanical weed cutter

and so on

How to maintain internal combustion engines.

Internal combustion engines are expensive. To make them last much longer, you must take good care of them. In developing good engine maintenance habits, you must note these;

Engine oil

The engine oil is like the blood in our bodies.

Engine oil is necessary to lubricate the engines, remove impurities and keep it cool. Always check the level of the engine oil of your engine and fill up with the same type of engine oil  when necessary. Check around the body of the engine or floor for oil leakages. If you suspect pil leakage take the car for service immediately. Change the engine oil with the same recommended type every 3 months.


Bigger engines are fitted with radiators which are used to cool the engine with water. Always check the level of water in the radiator. Also always check for water leakage from the radiator.

Engine sound

Always observe changes in engine sound. If you notice an unusual sound from the engine engine , have it checked by a qualified personnel 

Spark plugs

If your engine uses gasoline or petrol  then it is fitted with a spark plug. When engine sound changes, or fails to start, or it is not working as powerful as it used to then the spark plug may need replacement.

Low fuel

Never let your engine run out of fuel. If you are in the habit of doing this; STOP!. Allowing fuel to finish in your engine while running can damage the carburetor of fuel injection. System. For a diesel engine you may always need qualified personnel to start it each time it occurs.

Engine performance 

If engine performance has weakened. Then it’s a good  time to take it for repair.

Engine Smoke

Black smoke:  when an engine smoke is black, it means there is too much fuel and less oxygen in the combustion space. Too much fuel in the combustion space also means flooding of the engine. Cars with fuel injectors don’t usually flood the engine.

car emitting black smoke

White smoke: when an engine emits white smoke, it means too much air in the engine and not enough fuel in the combustion space.

Blue smoke:  when an engine emits blue smoke, its means combustion of lubrication oil in the combustion space.

Life Support Systems of an Engine

The life support system of an engine are;

Air and Exhaust

Lubrication oil




Air and Exhaust System:

Oxygen is needed for internal combustion to occur. This is why engines are fitted with an air intake system. Air intake systems delivers filtered and cooled air into the combustion space.

Burnt air from the combustion chamber, is taken out through the exhaust system. Sound produced from internal combustion is very loud. The exhaust system also reduces this sound into acceptable levels.

Lubrication System;

Lubrication oil does two things for the engine; lubricate and cool the engine.

Lubrication system consists of mainly of, oil pump, oil filter, lubricating oil, and lubricating paths. Lubrication of engine parts is necessary to maintain optimum performance and prevent overheating.

Note that in smaller engines, a water radiator cooling system is not necessary. This is because the amount of heat generated  can be cool by the lubricating oil.

For two stroke engines or small engines, cooling and lubrication is achieved by mixing one part lubricating oil with 100 parts of fuel.

For bigger engines such as the 4 stroke engines, much heat is generated and so in addition to cooling and lubrication water is used to cool the engine.

Fuel System:

Fuel is needed to provide the energy needed for the engine to work. The 3 major fuel types are; petrol, diesel and gas. Modern day engines deliver fuel into the combustion space using fuel injectors. Fuel is delivered to the combustion space from the fuel tank with the aid of fuel pump through the fuel injectors. The injectors then delivers the fuel into the combustion space.

Cooling water system:

Water is used primarily to cool the engine. For smaller engines, it is optional. But bigger engines must be fitted with a water cooling system.

The main components of water cooling system consists of Radiator, fan, water pump, cooling water pipes and channels within the engine.

The main area of the engine that cooling water is required is the combustion chambers also known as cylinders. This is where combustion takes place, and consequently a lot of heat generated. Water is required to cool these areas so engine will not overheat and cause damage.

Cooling water passes through channels surrounding the combustion chambers to cool the engine.

The function of the radiator and fan is to cool down hot water generated when it initially passed around the hot combustion chambers before it recirculates.

Cooling water system thereby keeps the engine running at its optimum temperature.

Electrical System:

Engines are usually fitted with an electrical system to control the way the engine works. Among other functions, electricity is needed to control fuel injection into the combustion chambers. Modern day fuel injectors are electrically controlled.

The two main parts of and engine electrical system is a battery and an alternator. The major function of the battery is to start the engine. For smaller engines, a battery may not be required, a starter cord can be used to start the engine.

In a car engine for instance, battery supplies electricity to a starter motor for it to start. The starter motor drives a flywheel. The flywheel in turn rotates the crankshaft which make the piston move up and down for internal combustion to take place. The internal combustion produces the energy required to make the engine run on its own.  Once the engine starts to run on its own, the starter coil disengages to prevent itself from damage.

For a car, other battery loads include; interior and exterior lights, alarms, and very importantly, the engine control unit.

The engine control unit controls the timing and other operations of the engine. An example of a function of the engine control unit is the timing of the fuel injectors.

The alternator is powered by the engine. The function of the alternator is to charge the battery and supply electricity for other functions. For a car, the electricity supplied can be used to on headlamps,   interior lights, horns, radio, air conditioner etc., when the car engine is running.

About Petrol and Diesel Engines

How can you differentiate a petrol or gasoline engines from a diesel engine, below are some basic facts about these engines.

Basic facts about Petrol and Diesel Engines

Engine that uses no spark plugs are diesel engines. Diesel engines do not require a spark for internal combustion to occur because they are compression ignition engines. Diesel can self-ignite under high compression, temperature and pressure within the combustion chamber of the engine.

Petrol engines are spark ignition engines. Petrol can’t self-ignite within the combustion chamber, it still needs a spark for internal combustion to occur.

Difference between Petrol and Diesel Engines.


The diesel engines have bigger cylinder volumes compared to petrol engines of the same size. Hence diesel engines have higher compression ratios making them more efficient than petrol engines. The compression ratio of a diesel engine is higher than that of a petrol by 2 to 1.


Diesel engines make louder noise than petrol engines.

Engine Size

In terms of engine size, diesel engines are bigger. Most big engines runs on diesel fuel. Note that most car engines run on petrol because the engine size are smaller while bigger vehicles such as trailers, lorries, bulldozers etc. runs on diesel.

Spark plugs

Petrol engine have spark plugs fitted, will sparks plugs are absent in a diesel. This is one way you can easily identify a petrol engine from a diesel engine.