Will My Generator Work in Cold Weather?

Will My Generator Work in Cold Weather?

There’s always that nagging fear, isn’t there? The one time you desperately need your generator is during a power outage due to severely cold weather. But will it work, or do the freezing temperatures cause off-grid generators to fail?

The fact is you need reliable all-year-round off-grid solutions, so running generators in winter is a must. Read on for the tips you need to ensure optimum generator use during the cooler months.

Do Low Temperatures Affect Generator Use?

When the cold winter weather arrives, it can become harder for off-grid generators to function smoothly. Although built to tolerate extreme weather conditions, generators have components that sometimes find lower temperatures challenging.

If a generator doesn’t start during a snap of cold weather, it could be because:

  • The engine oil has clogged up and isn’t lubricating engine parts properly
  • The batteries have drained more rapidly in the lower temperatures
  • Snow has built up on the generator and is preventing decent ventilation
  • You haven’t carried out adequate maintenance or stored the unit properly

To lower the chances of your generator failing, here’s what you should do:

1.   Study Your Generator’s Manual Closely

Before even thinking of using your generator, you should carefully read the manual. This applies even if you have operated other generators before. It’s a sound investment of your time because you’ll understand:

  • Cold weather procedures based on fuel type
  • What actions you should try to avoid
  • Troubleshooting tips if you experience technical issues

No matter how much of an old hand you are in generator operation, it always pays to study the manual due to constant advances in technology.

2.   Take Care When Storing Batteries

Lower temperatures can cause car batteries to drain more quickly, and the same applies to batteries needed for generator use. This is especially true if batteries become exposed to the cold for long periods.

You could consider using a battery tender whenever you store your generator. A battery warmer can also help boost its capacity during periods of extreme weather.

3.   Fuel Matters

You should choose a generator that uses standard-grade unleaded fuel, including regular, premium and ultra-premium. Petrol always tends to outperform diesel in cold weather climates.

4.   Use the Correct Type of Oil

The viscosity of your engine oil will affect how smoothly off-grid generators run under very cold weather conditions. Most generators will run on conventional or synthetic oils. However, if you use 10W-30 engine oil, you could begin to experience issues should temperatures dip too far below freezing.

5.   Always Operate Your Generator Outside

Although you might feel tempted to run your generator indoors in a warmer space, such as a garage, you should never do this. If you do, there are huge risks, such as carbon monoxide poisoning, fire and overheating.

6.   Keep Snow Away From Your Generator

Ventilation affects generator use. When running generators in winter, you must ensure the immediate vicinity is well-ventilated. Clear snow and leaves, and make sure nothing blocks your generator’s vents. Bear in mind that melting snow could damage your generator’s internal components.

7.   Invest in a Weatherproof Cover

If extreme weather is likely where you live, you should purchase a specialist generator cover that provides adequate ventilation during generator use. Always inspect your generator carefully for damage or leaks before you operate it.

8.   Allow Time for Your Generator to Warm Up

There’s no hard and fast rule about how long it takes off-grid generators to warm up. Here are some of the dependencies:

  • The outdoor temperature at the time of operation
  • The engine type of generator
  • The fuel type you use as well as your power needs.

Recommendations vary from generator to generator. Some may take a few minutes to warm up, while others can take a few hours to warm up properly.

9.   Take Care of Your Generator

Off-grid generators can be essential to daily life, so they deserve your care and attention over their lifetime. You should inspect your generator regularly.

Carry out all maintenance procedures recommended in the manual. Doing this will mitigate the risk of your generator failing when needed. Your maintenance list is likely to include actions such as:

  • Changing the engine oil at specific intervals
  • Cleaning and lubricating the oil filter
  • Adding a fuel stabiliser during short periods of storage
  • Cleaning generator components as and when required
  • Checking and addressing issues such as leaks, corrosion and rust

Similar principles apply to storing your generator for longer periods. Preventative maintenance is always the best approach. It will lower the risks of your generator developing issues when you’re not using it.

10. Run Your Generator From Time to Time

Running your generator every so often is one of those off-grid solutions that’s easy to forget. It will help ensure parts stay well-lubricated and in good working order. As a rule of thumb, you should run your generator at least once every three months.

If you live in an area that experiences extreme weather conditions, you should operate your generator for short periods every few weeks or so. This is particularly important if you know you will be relying on it soon.

Checking the generator is running properly every once in a while is an excellent way to reduce stress and buys you time if something is amiss.

11. Keep Up-To-Date With Weather Alerts

Always monitor local weather forecasts. If severe winter weather is approaching, you’ll have time to inspect and prepare before generator use.  For instance, if you use an engine block heater, you may only need to do so after a severe weather alert.

An engine block heater is useful for maintaining your generator’s optimum operating temperature. It can prevent the engine from becoming too cold, ensuring smooth starts and efficient performance even during cold weather conditions.

Check Out the Range of MaxWatt Generators

MaxWatt are masters of their craft and experts in generator use. If you plan on running generators in winter, MaxWatt has a range of off-grid solutions for use wherever you live. Check out the full range of MaxWatt off-grid generators and ensure you have the power you need for any time of the year.

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