Generator Maintenance - FAQ
"I would like to do the maintenance, but without the monitoring since we feel it's not necessary."
Let me see if I can give you some reasons why it's necessary and why I personally don't do maintenance agreements without a cellular monitor.
You had the generator installed for it to work when you need it to. The generator as you know exercises every week 5-12 minutes depending on the model. At any point during that exercise it could fault and lock out in alarm and you would never know. This would need to be manually reset and fixed for it to work. Unless you walked outside each week and listened through its cycle and then checked for a green status light (if it's a newer model).
Even then, a battery or charger problem could surface at any time between exercises and you wouldn't know until it didn't start.
We would create better reliability with the monitor.
This monitor also lets me know how long the generator has run and if additional maintenance is required. Run and alarm logs, run hours and maintenance records are all kept through the monitoring system.
Perhaps the generator has run for more than 24hrs continuously and needs to be shut down to check the oil (required in your owners manual). Just imagine a road trip traveling 24hrs non stop in your car. You should feel the urge to check your oil, I hope.
We would be able to keep track of all this with the monitor.
It could run for just a few minutes, hours or even days when called upon. If you were the only one with an outage and you weren't there it would run and run till you got back. This could be a problem with your electrical service (bad meter socket, pole connection, main breaker etc...).
Sometimes you may end up with a surge which can take out the utility sense fuses which causes a runaway condition. The generator will think there's an outage and will just keep running till its manually stopped.
With a monitor installed I would alert the serving utility when loss of power occurs so they can troubleshoot and fix the problem.
This limits the runtime to just what is necessary because of the monitor.
Dealers with no monitoring are spread thin during outages. Units can sit idle for months between service visits possibly in alarm that needs to be manually reset. Once a storm hits they get flooded with calls from owners of non functioning generators.
I took over maintenance on a couple of units recently from a dealer that didn't have monitoring and only serviced once a year. Both units experienced an overcrank condition in the same snow storm we saw drifts of >24". One of which was still in alarm and not reset. Unable to run for nine months till I got there.....
It's not foolproof, but having the monitor is definitely worth it!
The other question I get a lot is:
"I don't see the need for two visits, can't you just come once a year?"
There again, I'll try and provide some substantial reasons why I come twice a year.
Essential for your generators engine to run. When it gets too low there is a low oil shutoff, but we can't count on that. Because by that time significant damage may have already been done. You may have a slow leak and that extra six months may be the difference between catching it early or too late.
The fuel tank (LP) level is checked on each visit. The external fuel connections supplying the generator are soaped for leaks (rust converter is also applied to the piping and is then painted on the next visit).
The battery electrolyte level is checked. This is crucial on pre-Nexus units that don't have a smart battery charger. Too low of a level when the charger boils off the electrolyte and the battery can explode from the Hydrogen gassing. Manufacturer recommends to check this every six months, so a dealer only offering maintenance once a year......
Cost always plays a factor in this. Some others are charging over three hundred dollars for one visit and no cellular monitoring. You may or may not get an authorized Generac technician doing the work. With me you not only get a Generac Tech but also a master electrician in MA/NH.
You may think just because it is only one visit that is going to be cheaper. In some cases it might be, but may end up costing you more in the long run with regards to reliability and downtime.