Your new generator needs to be broken just like any other new or refurbished engine. Breaking in a generator properly prolongs the life of the engine and other components, as they can be affected by outputs from an improperly broken-in engine. It’s best to do this before an emergency for two reasons. Firstly, you want to control the break-in procedure. Secondly, you want your generator to run as efficiently as possible in an emergency.
When you break in a generator engine, you ensure the pistons and rings within the engine wear grooves into the chamber’s walls. This allows oil to properly lubricate these components every time the generator runs and keeps byproducts from the combustion process from escaping the chamber.
Over time, generator break-in procedures change, due to changing engine technology. To ensure your generator engine is properly broken in, refer to your owners’ manual. Each generator manufacturer has specific break-in guidelines for their engines.
Before breaking in any generator, it’s essential to fill your oil reservoir. You will also need to change the oil during the break-in period, referring to your owners’ manual for specific time frames. This is because as the pistons and rings wear into the engine’s walls, small pieces of metal will flake off into the oil. It’s important to flush these pieces out of your generator by frequently changing the oil.
Using the correct fuel, let the generator run without a load for as long as the manual instructs. This may be an hour or more for small, gas-powered portable generators. For large diesel gensets, this is likely only as long as it takes to test installation.
Then, run your generator under a heavy load for as many as 100 hours. The exact capacity and duration will be included in the manufacturer’s guidelines. Underuse during break-in and throughout your generator’s life causes a buildup of oil, soot and other contaminants throughout the generator, especially in diesel-powered gensets.
As the break-in continues, and up until it reaches 100 or more hours of use, your engine will become more efficient.