Investing in a portable generator is a fantastic way of ensuring you have a power supply wherever you. Additionally, it provides a backup supply in case of a blackout at home. Even during a power blackout, you’ll need to power your AC unit, lightings, and probably make coffee. This is especially during winter or in stormy weather. There is a need to know how to make portable generator power clean.
However, not all portable generators produce clean power similar to the electricity from your power grid for powering every appliance at home. Sensitive electronics such as digital microwaves, PCs, TVs, and laptops can easily damage when you power them with ‘dirty’ power.
Fortunately, there are different ways of cleaning up generator power, making it suitable for powering all your devices. You need to know about ‘dirty’ power, causes, and how to make it clean.
What is Dirty Power?
Dirty power is unstable, or fluctuating power commonly witnessed when powering your appliances with a generator. But not all types of generators produce dirty power.
Your mains electricity has low to zero harmonic distortion, which explains why it’s not easy to notice dirty power from your grid. How do you spot dirty power? Here are the signs to observe;
- Constant flickering or blinking of lights when switched on.
- The heating of your power equipment, especially on the transformer’s side, and in some cases, produces noticeable noise.
- The circuit breaker trips frequently.
- Poor functioning of power-intensive tools as the speed of the motor constantly changes.
If your generator has the above signs, it’s time to think of how to make its power clean.
The Leading Causes of Dirty Power
Low-quality and cheap generators are likely to produce dirty power. However, high-quality generators do produce dirty power too. High-quality generators can produce dirty power if you fail in servicing them when the date falls due. Any abnormality in the power supply leads to dirty power output. Possible cause of dirty power includes;
1. Using Contaminated Fuel
Any contamination on your generator fuel can cause mayhem in the everyday operations of your generator. Contamination can include dirt which accrues from poor storage of your fuel. You can avoid this by using clean fuel and doing proper fuel storage. You can try to inquire if is there a portable generator that runs on natural gas?
2. Dirty Internal Components
Clogged fuel filters will lead to poor engine performance, leading to power fluctuations. Regular cleaning or replacement of the dirty fuel filters can help improve your generator’s performance.
3. Overused Lubricant Oil
While servicing your generator, it’s advisable to replace the used oil.
4. Harmonic Distortion
It occurs when there is frequent switching of loads when your generator is running. This is especially during construction. That is why one needs to choose one of the best portable generators for construction.
Other causes include unbalanced load, under or overvoltage.
While some of the solutions above can lead to optimal performance of your generator, you may still experience a dirty power supply. If that be the case, then look into other methods of making a portable generator power clean.
Ways of How to Make Portable Generator Power Clean
Ideally, the type of power that a generator produces largely depends on how it generates its alternating current. Here is how to obtain clean power from a generator.
1. Use an Inverter Generator
Using inverter generators is the most convenient way of getting clean generator power. These generators do not have a mechanical alternator present in conventional portable and standby generators. Read more here on how does an inverter generator work.
The mechanical production of alternating current in inverter generators is done by digital alternators, which deliver clean and stable power.
The digital alternator also contributes to the silent operations witnessed when inverter generators are running. Furthermore, they’re easy to maintain and offer more fuel efficiency than portable models.
Even though inverter generators produce clean power, the amount of power is small compared to portable generators deliver. It can be a disappointment to people looking for high and clean power output. Inverter generators come with parallel connection capability to compensate for this disadvantage. Sine wave inverters can also work. Read more on the article that answers the question, are inverter generators pure sine wave?
Inverter generators are also costly than portable generators. If you have an existing regular portable generator, you don’t have to ditch it for an inverter model.
There are other options of getting clean power from a portable generator. Read on.
2. Use a UPS (Uninterruptible Power System)
Most PC owners buy UPS to power off their computers in case of a blackout safely. UPS stores some little power, making it possible for PC owners to save and shut down their devices in case of a blackout. But the main role a UPS plays is to ensure smooth and distortion-free output power.
If your generator produces dirty power, you can invest in this device and connect it to the generator. The core purpose is to give your appliances smooth running by providing an uninterrupted power supply. The smart UPS brands have an in-built automatic voltage regulator (AVR). It will handle any voltage fluctuations that can lead to the production of dirty power. The final output will be clean and stable power. Read and get more information on the article, what causes a portable generator to surge?
Apart from the smooth power from a UPS, it will also give a short-term backup. You can safely power off your appliances immediately after your generator runs out of fuel. Even though the backup may only be for a few seconds, it will protect your appliances from the risk that comes with sudden powering off a generator.
However, it would be best to be mindful when shopping for a UPS device to clean dirty power from your portable generator. There are different UPS devices in the market with various capacities. You should get one that is compatible with your generator. A mismatch between your generator and a UPS may cause further problems.
3. Using a Standalone Inverter
A standalone inverter is different from an inverter generator. An inverter by itself can’t generate any form of power. A standalone inverter converts DC power to AC power leading to smooth and clean power output for your delicate electronics. To achieve this, you have to incorporate an inverter system into your portable generator.
Moreover, an inverter will regulate your generator’s speed according to the existing load. This mechanism of varying the generator’s engine speed with the load improves fuel efficiency, reducing fuel consumption.
While connecting an inverter to your generator will make your portable generator power clean, there’s a loss of power in the connection. Even though the amount of power lost is negligible, it’s better to use an inverter generator if it’s accessible.
4. Use an Automatic Voltage Regulator (AVR)
The best approach to counter any power frequency variations is to use an automatic voltage regulator. It can convert the dirty power from your generator to a steady power ideal for powering even the most sensitive electrical in your home.
As the AVR stabilizes fluctuating voltage, it also lowers your generator’s RPM fluctuations. Even so, when buying an AVR, you have to be choosy; not all AVR you’ll find in the market a perfect fit for your generator. An ideal automatic voltage regulator is one whose voltage is in the range of your generator. Besides being compatible with your generator, also check whether it can handle the load. An AVR for a portable generator is cheaper than a UPS. Read more on the article can you use a power strip with a portable generator?
5. Use a Power Line Conditioner
This is a gadget designed to stabilize power produced by a generator. It is connected to a portable or conventional generator. It works by eliminating any form of fluctuations and noise from the power coming from the generator and releases stable power to your devices.
Power line conditioners are also the best for suppressing power surges. The superiority of a power line conditioner to suppress power surge is better than a portable generator surge protector.
It is a simple-to-use gadget suitable even for novice generator users. Just like the UPS, inverter, and AVR, you need to get a compatible power line conditioner for your generator. A whole-house power conditioner or an ac power conditioner for a generator for generator is recommended.
6. Use of Power Filters
A power filter is an electronic component that helps to reduce the electromagnetic interference of power to equipment. It also helps to reduce equipment noise. The use of an oil filter, as well as an air filter, is crucial for this.
Dirty Power vs Clean Power
Comparison between dirty power and clean power
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Clean Power From a Generator?
It is the power that does not have any voltage fluctuations. Voltage fluctuations that go beyond a specific limit can lead to dirty power. Dirty power can cause malfunctioning of your generator and damage your electronics.
2. Do Portable Generators Produce Clean Power?
No, portable generators do not maintain a steady RPM which means the output power and frequency fluctuate. This fluctuation is referred to as harmonic distortion. The higher the harmonic distortion rate, the dirtier the power is. Clean power has minimal total harmonic distortion. Inverter generators produce clean and stable power because they produce power with less than 5% total harmonic distortion (THD).
3. Which Generators Produce the Cleanest Power?
Portable inverter generators are the best source of clean power. That’s why they are ideal for powering even the most vulnerable electronics. However, the range of cleanliness may vary depending on the inverter technology the manufacturer has used. The best inverter generators have a harmonic distortion of less than 3%.
4. Can You Plug a UPS Into a Generator?
Yes, if your generator produces dirty power, linking it with a UPS will help in stabilizing the power. However, you have to check on the compatibility of the UPS with your generator. Check on your generator’s power output against the ratings on the UPS system.
5. How Do You Make a Generator Safe for Electronics?
There are different ways of how to make a generator safe for electronics. They include the use of a surge protector, the use of a UPS that is properly installed, and the use use of an inverter generator.
6. How Do You Clean Up Generator Power for Electronics?
Proper installation, as well as proper use of the UPS, is a sure way of cleaning up generator power for electronics.
7. How Do You Change Generator Oil?
It depends on the type of generator. There are those that have one hole for infilling as well as out filling. The first step is to unscrew and open the cap, put the oil funnel into the hole and fill the oil up to the recommended level. Then replace back the cap.
Video With More Information on How to Clean Dirty Power
Making a portable generator power clean involves stabilizing the power from the generator so that your appliances can use it. Dirty power is common when using portable and traditional generators. However, even with an inverter generator, it is possible to experience dirty power if proper servicing is not adhered to.
If you are yet to buy a generator for powering your home, consider going for an inverter generator. Otherwise, pick any of the above approaches on how to make a portable generator power clean. Remember to confirm the compatibility of your generator with a UPS, inverter, AVR, and power line conditioner before investing in either of them.