The Differences Between Air-Cooled and Liquid-Cooled Generators

The Differences Between Air-Cooled and Liquid-Cooled Generators

Posted in: Diesel Generators Engine & Drivetrain Performance

Electric generators produce a great amount of heat when they operate. The interior of an electric generator needs to be constantly cooled in order to protect it from damage and ensure its continuing operations.

Generators are either air-cooled or liquid-cooled. The generator’s cooling system is part of its design and is often determined by the size and type of the generator.  Smaller generators are usually cooled by air while larger varieties are generally liquid-cooled.

Air-cooling system

This system of cooling uses air circulation to bring the temperature down. In air-cooling systems, the engine takes cool air from the atmosphere and blows it internally across the different parts of the generator set. This keeps the generator from overheating.

Air-cooling systems are often used in portable generator sets and standby generators of up to 22 kilowatts. An air-cooling system is either open-ventilated or completely enclosed. In the open-vent system, atmospheric air is used and the exhaust is released back into the atmosphere. In an enclosed system, the air is re-circulated inside to cool the internal parts of the generator.

Air-cooled systems have the potential of overheating when used over a long period. When the temperature of the generator goes, it will cease working, which means it will stop providing electricity.

Liquid-cooled system

In a liquid-cooled system, the generator uses oil or coolant to keep the temperature of the internal parts down. Liquid cooling uses a radiator and water pump. The pump distributes the cooling liquid to the engine block using hoses. The heat of the engine block is transferred to the coolant, which flows into the radiator where it is cooled by air. Most generators that are over 22 kilowatts use the liquid-cooling system.

Liquid-cooling systems are more expensive to produce, but they are more durable and powerful than the air-cooled alternatives. If you purchase a liquid-cooled generator set, you will likely be getting a great product, but plan to spend more than you would for a smaller generator with an air-cooled system.

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