How to Winterize Your Standby Generator

winterize your standby generator

If you’re a native Hoosier or have lived in the Midwest for long, you probably know the pain of a power outage during the thick of winter. Snow and ice accumulations, unpredictable weather changes, and fewer daylight hours create a perfect storm of conditions for a blackout.

Luckily, if you have a standby generator, you have peace of mind that your home will still be warm, and the lights will stay on. Just as you take steps to prepare your vehicle for wintery conditions, there are a few things you can do to make sure your generator will be running smoothly all season long. Here are a few ways to winterize your standby generator.

Check Your Battery

When exposed to colder temperatures, batteries lose lifespan and do not operate as efficiently as they do in warmer temps. Winterize your standby generator by making sure your battery is in good condition. If the battery is running low, it may not hold a charge if you attempt to recharge it. If this is the case, you may want to consider replacing the battery.

Exercise Your Generator

Just like you let your car run for a few minutes before driving it in the winter, your standby generator needs to be exercised periodically during long periods of inactivity during cold temperatures. Without this exercise, your generator may not automatically turn on or operate properly in temperatures lower than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Allowing your generator to exercise for approximately 10 minutes, once per week, lubricates all moving parts and maintains important seals within the generator.

Keep the Area Around the Generator Clear

Your standby generator uses vents on its cabinet exterior to properly ventilate. If these vents are restricted by snow, ice, leaves, or other debris, this prevents the unit’s ability to ventilate. This could cause overheating and other issues. Throughout the winter, clear the unit and surrounding area of any snowfall. There should be at least five feet of clearance around the generator at all times.

Clear a Path to Access the Generator

In snow, shovel a path to allow access to your standby generator to easily access and quickly troubleshoot issues. This makes it easier for your or your local generator technician to perform any repairs, maintenance, or emergency service.

We also recommend clearing a path from the generator to its inlet plug on the exterior of your home for easy access.

Get a Cold Weather Kit

One of the easiest ways to winterize your standby generator is with the help of a cold weather kit. Most manufacturers make cold weather kits specific to their generators to help them run more efficiently during the winter. Your local generator technicians can help recommend which cold weather kit is right for your generator and can even help you winterize your standby generator.

Cold weather kits typically include:

• Controlled battery warmers: As we said earlier, batteries lose lifespan in colder temperatures and are not able to operate as efficiently as they could in warmer temps. A controlled battery warmer automatically keeps your battery warm in temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Crank case heater: During the summer months, the oil in your generator acts as a slippery lubricant. However, in the winter, it can turn into friction-fighting sludge. A crank case heater prevents oil from coagulating in sub-freezing temps, allowing the generator to operate smoothly.
• SAE 5W-30 oil: Most generators use ordinary 10W-30 oil. However, when using a heater, manufacturers recommend changing the oil to 5W-30 synthetic oil.

Need Help?

So, you know you need to winterize your standby generator but don’t have time to do it yourself? No problem, that’s what we’re here for! The professionals at Midwest Generator Solutions specialize in the installation, maintenance, and repair of home and commercial standby generators and emergency backup generators in Indiana.

Contact us today to schedule generator service from Midwest Generator Solutions or to learn about how you can save with our annual Generator Maintenance Service Plan.