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What are the differences in cooling methods for different diesel generators

July 27, 2022
Generators range from small portable generators that people use as backup power for their homes to large industrial units that are used as the main power source at remote oil drilling sites. Regardless of size or function, generators all have one thing in common - they all generate heat.
Why do generators need cooling?
Most generators have many conductors, all of which generate heat as current flows through them. This heat can build up quickly in the system and must be removed properly to reduce the risk of damage.
If the heat is not properly removed from the system, the windings can quickly become damaged. Many problems can occur, including clearance and balancing issues. However, heat can be significantly reduced by various cooling systems. By continuously cooling the generator, it is possible to minimize the risk of damage to the generator itself. Ultimately, this reduces frustration and prevents repairs to the
Air cooling systems
Once you understand the value of cooling a generator, it becomes important to understand how the best air cooling system works. For air-cooled systems, there are two main methods of cooling.
The first is an open ventilation system. Here, atmospheric air is used in conjunction with a type of exhaust system. This allows the air to be released back into the atmosphere. It draws in air and pushes it back into the surrounding area.
The second is a closed system. As the name implies, a closed system keeps the air circulating. It circulates the air. When it does so, the air is cooled, which in turn keeps the generator cool.
Air-cooled systems have some limitations, including the risk of overheating. However, air-cooled systems are mostly limited to small standby and portable generators, which can produce up to 22 kW per generator.
Liquid-cooled systems
Liquid-cooled systems, sometimes called water-cooled systems, are another option. There are several types of liquid-cooled systems. Some use oil, while others use a coolant. Hydrogen is another cooling element.
Liquid-cooled systems are equipped with a pump that delivers coolant around the engine through multiple hoses. The heat from the generator is naturally transferred to the coolant, cooling the unit. This system is particularly suitable for large generators. They require more heavy-duty components to keep the generator cool. This does add to the cost, but these are the most common choices for commercial and industrial use.
A key option is a hydrogen cooling system. These are also used in large generators. The hydrogen used in them has high thermal conductivity. This allows these systems to dissipate heat at a much faster rate. Therefore, they are suitable for large systems that cannot be effectively cooled with other coolants. #TopperPower
When choosing the right cooling solution for a generator, the size and use of the generator plays an important role in the decision making process. For larger systems, usually those with more than 22 kW of power, air-cooled systems are simply ineffective. They do not draw enough heat from the system, which can quickly overheat the system. Liquid-cooled systems are the most common choice for commercial and industrial spaces.
Air-cooled systems are best suited for portable generators and generators used in residential environments. Here, there is less power, less demand and less heat generated. Air-cooled systems work well here and cost less.
Cost comparison
When it comes to cost, price comes down to size and power. Liquid-cooled systems are more complex and designed with more components. They use complex designs and use heat sinks (and other components) to run efficiently. Because they are more powerful, durable and robust overall, these systems are more expensive. Within the range of liquid-cooled systems, hydrogen-cooled units tend to be the most reliable and efficient, but also some of the most expensive.
For larger generators, air-cooled systems are less efficient. However, they are an overall affordable option for those looking for a simple system for smaller generators.
Maintenance should be a key consideration when choosing a cooling system. The simpler the machine, the simpler the maintenance procedure. Air-cooled systems are easier to maintain because they are fairly simple in design. They don't make much of a mess during cleaning and can be done by anyone who is handy enough to do it.
Liquid-cooled systems are more complicated to maintain. Most require specialized tools to clean the system. Also, these systems require more frequent maintenance.
Noise Levels
Another key consideration is the noise level. Depending on the environment in which it is used, one style may be better than the other. Air-cooled systems are louder than liquid-cooled systems. The sound comes from the air that the system blows through the engine to cool it. On the other hand, most liquid-cooled systems operate with very low noise levels. This is despite the fact that all cooling systems and all generators produce a lot of noise. Some liquid-cooled systems are very quiet because they reduce the noise to some extent.