What is Prime VS Standby Generator

Prime Power is the main (aka prime) source of power at the location, whereas Standby Power (aka emergency power) is to be used when the main source of power fails. You can either have a manual transfer switch to turn on the standby or an automatic which does the switch for you. The main application for Standby Generators is to act as emergency power for when the Grid or local power (mains) suffers a power outage i.e. a power cut occurs.

Running Prime Powered Generators on a regular basis necessitates critical fuel supply and maintenance. Most generators have a base fuel tank designed for short run periods of 6-10 hours, necessitating an externally connected fuel tank for longer durations. Depending on how long you plan to operate the generator, these tanks can range in size from 500 liters to over 20,000 liters. Refer to the FW Power Guide on Generator Fuel Consumption for more information.

Most generators require maintenance every 500 hours, although certain engines may require maintenance as frequently as every 250 hours. It is critical to consider maintenance at the beginning of the project and have a plan in place to prevent future downtime and expenses. Access to and around the generator is also critical. Refer to the FW Power Guide on Generator Maintenance for more information.

Standby Generators are designed to run when the primary power source, typically the Grid, fails. A Transfer Switch is necessary to transition power from the failed source to the generator. It is critical to ensure that the generator is compatible with the transfer switch, which may require the installation and programming of several signal cables such as auto start signal and up-to-speed signal. Refer to the FW Power Guide to Automatic Transfer Switches for more information.

Fuel supply is also a consideration for Standby applications, and the length of time you want the generator to run during an extended power outage should be questioned. The answer is frequently dependent on the criticality of the supply, such as in a data center or hospital, or the degree of financial disruption caused by a non-operating generator.

Because a Standby Generator is not used regularly to provide primary power, it must be periodically started up (like a car would) by the maintenance team to ensure that it starts and can supply the building load when required. A trickle charge battery charger should be installed in the Standby Generator to keep the starting batteries ready for use. It is also recommended to install a jacket water heater to maintain the engine at a pre-set temperature, resulting in easier cold starting, less engine wear, and less smoking from the engine when cold.