What You Need to Know About Rental Power

Sept. 1, 2000
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In more than 15 years of service working for Caterpillar as a lead tech for the electrical power-generation division, I have run into just about every problem and scenario the field has to offer. One market that is particularly challenging on a daily basis is the generator rental fleet. As in any business relationship, the root of most rental-generator problems can be attributed to a lack of communication.

A contractor may have any number of reasons to rent a generator set; a simple set of guidelines, however, will ensure that the end user has the right generator for the desired application. The following information needs to be provided by the end user to minimize any last-minute complications.

  1. Voltage and Amperage (kW range)
    • For larger load needs, it never hurts to consult an electrical engineer.
    • Motor-starting vs. consumption amps should be taken into consideration.
    • If multiple voltages are needed, make sure the equipment supplier knows this fact ahead of time.
    • The operator should be aware of external voltage adjustment procedures.
  2. Governor Specifications
    • Electronic governors offer loads (e.g., UPS systems) sensitive to isochronous operation (little to no speed drop) when quick engine response is needed.
    • Most suppliers will provide electronic governors if specified.
    • In applications where a jacketed water heater cannot be utilized, glow plugs will be needed to preheat the engine, and the governor should be capable of running in a low-idle state until the generator motor is warmed up.
  3. Operating Environment
    • When operating a generator in a residential neighborhood, sound attenuation is a must.
    • Exhaust smoke should be kept to a minimum through the use of a jacketed water heater, especially in cold-starting environments.
    • Ensure that adequate egress is available for refueling and maintenance vehicles.
    • Safety precautions should always be in the forefront. Curious bystanders and would-be vandals can wreak havoc on your site.
  4. User Responsibilities
    • The operator must be familiar with the safe and proper starting, monitoring, and stopping of the equipment.
    • Long-term rentals will require periodic maintenance. Unless other arrangements are made with the supplier, the end user is responsible for all upkeep of the equipment.
If you are uncertain of the application needs, the supplier should be able to assist you with any information pertaining to the job. 

Stephen T. Works
Wagner Equipment Tech Support
Denver, CO