Continuous, Prime and Backup Generators

Posted in: Diesel Generators Performance Power Outages

Electric power generators can be classified in one of three ways depending on their mode of operation: continuous, prime, or standby. Continuous and prime power generators are very similar as they function as the main source of power and are designed to operate continuously or for extended periods of time. The major difference between the two is that continuous generator sets are designed to operate continually with a consistent load while prime generators are designed to operate for long durations at variable load. The other type of generator – standby/emergency – are to be run only when there is an outage to the utility grid or the main source of power in a backup situation.

Continuous and prime generators are primarily used in remote locations such as mining and oil and gas operations, construction, ships, etc., where there is no access to the grid to supply electric power. These are also used when there is a limitation on the amount of electric power that can be drawn from the grid. In rare cases, it may also be cheaper to generate power through a diesel generator than to buy electric power from the grid. On the other hand, the need for standby power arises when there is a temporary disruption in the primary supply of electrical power, such as when your main grid goes out from a storm.

Like any other machinery running continuously for long hours, continuous or prime generators also need to be rugged to handle the heavy loads supported by them. Additionally, these units have to be able to handle friction between moving parts for longer periods of time and also handle sustained heat generation. This leads to prime generators being more expensive than generators of similar capacities used for standby or backup support. 

Before you set out to purchase a diesel generator, it is very important that you be clear about the purpose of your generator. Sometimes a generator may be required for standby usage only. However, if power outages occur frequently and/or for long periods of time, it might be worth the extra investment in prime or continuous rated power generators to ensure uninterrupted supply of backup power for extended periods of time. If you try to operate your standby generator for longer than the prescribed number of hours at a stretch, it will most likely lead to more frequent breakdowns and malfunctioning of the unit. 

At Americas Generators we offer a wide range of standby, continuous and backup generators. Email us at info@gopower.com or call 305-592-6800, our team of experts is ready to answer your questions and help you choose the right unit for your application.

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