Is the generator not producing power? You’re not alone! That’s why we’ve taken a look at the top 10 reasons why generators may fail to produce power.
In this article, we discuss these common issues as well as ways to solve them. We also provide answers to important, frequently asked questions.
Top 10 Reasons Your Generator May Not Be Producing Power
Many issues that cause generators to temporarily stop producing power are easily diagnosable and fixable by practically anyone.
Here are the 10 most common reasons that generators don’t produce power:
1. Poor Connections
One of the most common reasons your generator may not be producing power is poor connections. Poor connection typically occurs when dirt and other debris build up in your generator’s ports.
Keeping ports clean is a crucial aspect of proper generator maintenance. To fix your generator’s poor connections, simply clean all of its ports. Clean ports ensure that your connections will be nice and tight in the future.
2. Tripped Breaker
Another commonly occurring reason for generators suddenly not producing power is a tripped breaker. A tripped breaker is like a cut-off switch for the power production of the generator.
To get your generator back up and produce power again, start by tracking down the reason the breaker tripped in the first place.
Once you’ve remedied the situation which caused the tripped breaker and cut the breaker back on, your generator should be able to fire right back up and start producing power right away. In fact, you’ll want to turn it back on to avoid loss of residual magnetism.
Also, remember why you had a tripped breaker and avoid causing the same issue to occur again.
3. Loss of Residual Magnetism
Residual magnetism, created by the magnetic field inside your generator, lingers inside the machine when they stop producing power. When you go to start your generator again, you’re actually relying on residual magnetism to help jump-start things.
When loss of residual magnetism occurs, your generator may not start producing power again upon starting back up. It is the number one reason for a generator not producing power, period.
The main reason that loss of residual magnetism occurs is being turned off for long periods of time. That said, it may also happen when you overuse your generator with no load. Lastly, new generators running for the first time may also be affected by residual magnetism loss.
Avoid bumpy long-distance transportation and always run your generator for a while with a load before disconnecting and turning it off.
4. Blockage or Excitation Circuit Wiring Error
When an excitation circuit is wired wrong or is otherwise blocked, the precise issue must be detected and corrected.
The best way to remedy an excitation circuit wiring error or blockage issue is by using a multimeter to locate and resolve the blockage.
If the multimeter doesn’t turn up any obvious errors, try polishing the contact surfaces and tightening connection nuts and bolts.
5. Worn Brushes
Though an easy fix, worn brushes are often a reason that generators don’t produce power.
In this case, all you must do is replace the old brushes with new ones and fire your generator back up.
6. Grounded or Broken Generator Excitation Winding
As with number 4 on our list, broken and grounded excitation winding issues must all be checked for via a meter.
Using an ohmmeter, inspect the ground insulation until the broken winding is discovered.
Restore the ground point into working order, double-check it with the ohmmeter, and start your generator back up.
If everything works out and power production resumes, the job is complete. If issues continue, start the troubleshooting process over again.
7. Defective Breaker
If your generator has a defective breaker, you must replace it if you want your generator to start producing power again.
To do so, start by taking the spark plug out, then remove all the screws from the outer housing and disconnect the power harness. Open the housing and have a look at the wiring layout before removing the old breaker.
Put the new breaker in place, put the housing back in place, and reinsert the spark plug before starting the generator again.
8. Defective Automatic Voltage Regulator
A defective automatic voltage regulator is another plausible reason your generator may not produce power.
If you suspect a defective automatic voltage regulator, begin repairs by removing the spark plug and the alternator cover. Next, pop out the dual spade connector wires that run to the brush assembly.
Lastly, remove the automatic voltage regulator, disconnecting the quick-connector as you go. Place the new part in its place, and reassemble the generator in the reverse order that you took it apart.
9. Defective Capacitor
Another common reason your generator might not be throwing out any power is a defective capacitor. A defective power generator capacitor may also cause low and/or fluctuation in the unit’s voltage.
To find out if a defective capacitor is a culprit, remove it from the generator and empty its charge. Then, using a multimeter, take a reading of the capacitor.
The reading should be within approximately 5uf of the unit’s printed rating. If it isn’t, the capacitor needs to be replaced immediately.
This job is quick, requiring little more than removing a few screws and possible housing and/or plates to get to and replace the capacitor.
10. Disengaging the Start Switch Too Soon
There is one more common reason that your generator doesn’t produce power. You could be disengaging the start switch too soon.
We know it sounds too simple, but in reality, many cases of generators not producing power are simply cases of people letting off of the start button too quickly.
When switching your generator on, continue holding the switch/button for a few seconds after the engine comes to life to ensure that the field windings are also charged. Otherwise, your generator may not be excited enough to produce power.
It is important to note that even many of the newest and modern generators need their start button held in, or switch held onto, for a few extra seconds (long enough to excite the windings as well as start the unit up).
For this reason, many new generators come with a light that flashes once the unit’s windings are fully excited.
FAQs About Generators Not Producing Power
We hope we’ve already answered all of your questions about a generator not producing power.
But, just in case we haven’t, here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about why generators aren’t producing power:
Why is my generator running but not producing power?
Numerous reasons your generator may be running but not producing power include overloading the unit, faulty wiring, failing components (breakers, capacitors, and more), and loss of residual magnetism.
Why is my generator producing low voltage?
If your power generator is producing low voltage, it’s time to test the unit’s capacitor. This test requires a multimeter and knowledge of the correct voltage for your generator model (found on the unit itself or in the manual). If the capacitor tests badly, replace it. If the capacitor is functioning just fine, continue troubleshooting your generator.
What causes voltage fluctuation in generators?
Several reasons may cause a generators’ voltage to fluctuate, the main two include cutting on and off appliances that are running on power from your generator as well as simply generator overload. If your generator’s voltage is fluctuating wildly, and you know for sure that the unit isn’t overloaded, and you are not turning appliances on and off, test the capacitor.
What is the most common reason for a generator not producing power?
Loss of residual magnetism is the most common reason for a generator to not produce power, only after load capacity overload(drawing too much power from the generator for too long). This issue is caused by various reasons, mainly the generator running without a load, for too long, or the generator being turned off for too long.
How do I get my generator to produce power again?
For your generator to start producing power again, you must first troubleshoot the unit and diagnose the issue. Once the issue is remedied, your generator will start up like normal and begin producing power again.
Do I need a specialist to fix my power generator?
In most cases, basic power generators don’t require special mechanics. Most issues may be corrected by someone with very little to no mechanical experience. Above, several items of our list cover these sorts of repairs in detail.
A Final Word
Did you enjoy our list? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
If your issue is listed above, you should have no problem fixing it. If not, your generator is dead or needs fixing by a specialist.
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