Useful Tips on How to Start A Diesel Generator in the Cold Weather

May. 07, 2024

Due to a variety of reasons, diesel generator sets struggle to start in cold weather. For example, diesel fuel can gel in frigid temperatures, which can prevent the generator from starting properly. Battery charger failure is also one of the most common causes of failure of a generator in colder temperatures. To ensure your diesel generator operates smoothly in the cold, here are several useful tips to help you:


Inspect and clean your diesel generator before starting it 

It’s essential to give your diesel genset a thorough visual inspection before turning it on. Check for debris, leaks, stains, puddles and other signs that may indicate a problem in the future. If there are any debris, dust, or dirt, remove them and make sure the airflow isn't obstructed.


Use block heaters or jacket water heaters

With block heaters or jacket water heaters, engines on diesel generator sets can be kept heated up and started easily in winter. A block heater can help to preheat the engine block and warm the engine's oil, making it easier to start and reducing wear on engine components. Therefore, make sure your engine block heater is plugged in to a working power supply and inspect its functionality before starting the generator. Keep in mind that the block heater is an important heat source, you should get one on the engine for cold weather starts.


Useful Tips on How to Start A Diesel Generator in the Cold Weather

Check the batteries

Cold temperatures typically have a negative impact on generator batteries, which can result in reduced efficiency and make it difficult for the diesel generator to start. To avoid diesel generator starting failure during cold weather, test the batteries and make sure they are in good working condition. In addition, make sure battery chargers are plugged into the main power and ensure your batteries are fully charged.


Follow the generator’s user manual

Generally, the manual provided by your generator manufacturer would have all the information that you need to know about the generator, including advice on operating and maintaining it in cold weather. Therefore, always follow the manual or contact the manufacturer for specific recommendations and guidelines tailored to your particular generator model.


Use proper diesel fuel

Diesel fuel can gel in extremely cold conditions, causing blockages that prevent your generator from running. To avoid this, you can buy the fuel that is treated with anti-gel and anti-microbial additives. High-quality winter-grade diesel fuel with proper additives can prevent fuel gelling in cold temperatures. Keep diesel tanks at an acceptable level (filled at least halfway). If your fuel has been stored for a long time, it may degrade and lead to issues such as clogging of fuel filters and injectors. To lower the possibility of gelling in cold weather conditions and improve your generator performance, consider having your fuel tested for contamination.


Check the coolants and your antifreeze levels

Extreme cold can cause coolants to contract, which can also stop the engine and prevent the diesel generator from running. Thus, you need to check the coolant levels and antifreeze levels, ensuring your generator has adequate antifreeze and top the coolant off if necessary to prevent freezing.


Ensure proper lubrication

Oil thickens in colder temperatures, which can cause improper lubrication of engine components. It’s recommended that you use the recommended cold-weather oil or multi-viscosity oil to ensure smooth startup and operation. Regular oil changes is also essential to ensure lubrication.


Make sure your exhaust and ventilation systems are up to standard

In very cold climates, heavy snow can choke your diesel generator and prevent it from starting. Consider installing a snow hood to reduce the amount of snow entry and ensure proper ventilation. Hydraulic louvers can limit the amount of chilled cold air that enters the device during startup, which can lead to a shutdown. You can also consider investing in them if necessary. To ensure your generator can run efficiently and cool the engine, periodically check the air intake and filters for any blockages or restrictions caused by ice or snow build-up.


Maintain your generator regularly

Regular maintenance helps ensure generators work efficiently when needed. You need to have your diesel generator regularly inspected, cleaned, and tested to prevent costly downtime or damage due to malfunction. Look into the basics such as oil, coolant, ignition system, and air filter and make sure the battery is charged and tested. You need to plan routine maintenance even if you don’t use it very often.


Dingbo Power integrates design, supply, commissioning and maintenance of diesel generator sets and provides dependable generator equipment. We specialize in power generation and offer professional consultation to meet all your project needs. For help and advice on preparing your generator in the cold, contact the Dingbo Power team today.

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