How do I Test a Generator?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Generator testing is a task that should be undertaken on a regular basis in order to make sure this backup source of power remains in good working order. The process to test a generator will vary, based on the type of generator used and the amount of energy that the device is configured to put out. Most generator testing involves inspecting specific components when the generator is not in active use as well as activating the unit and observing its performance.

Generators often rely on gas-powered motors for operation when creating electricity.
Generators often rely on gas-powered motors for operation when creating electricity.

With a basic electric generator, the testing process begins by inspecting the engine components of the device. This includes making sure that the wiring is in acceptable condition, with no signs of fraying or wear. At the same time, components like pull cords or ignition switches should also be inspected to determine if there is any wear and tear that could interfere with the function of the device. Once the initial inspection is completed, it is possible to test a generator in terms of its output.

To test a generator, activating the unit and measuring the resulting output of energy is important. Accurate measurements are often obtained using a device known as a voltmeter. This often means monitoring the voltage of the battery as well as the supply of current that is generated. Test the output of the battery first, in order to get a basic reading; many manufacturers will provide a scale or range of the amount of voltage the battery should be holding. Once that measurement is identified, activate the unit and observe the change registered by the voltmeter. The reading should increase by a few points if the battery is working properly and is charging during operation.

Along with measuring the output, it is also important to observe how the unit is functioning during the operation. If there are any indications that belts are slipping, or the engine is skipping, those issues should be noted and repairs made as soon as possible. Once the repairs are made, making it a point to test a generator a second time before putting it back into storage is a good idea.

Most manufacturers provide a checklist that can be used as part of the process to check a generator. By following the list, it is possible to conduct a thorough test that leaves no major aspect of the task undone. Since many homeowners as well as a number of companies make use of both small and large generators as an emergency source of energy, taking the time to test a generator at least once every three months is a good idea. Doing so avoids breakdowns during use that could lead to serious losses.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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