Winterproof Your Power: Preparing Your Standby Generator for Cold Weather

How to Prepare Your Standby Power Generator for the Winter

As winter’s icy grip tightens, power lines hum a defiant tune, but the danger of cold darkness looms, threatening frozen nights and disrupted routines. However, there is hope for homes and businesses depending on the electric grid throughout the cold-weather months. A standby generator can provide reliable backup power during outages caused by heavy snow and frozen conditions! Alas, winter preparedness requires more than just a trusty generator; it demands a multi-pronged approach to ensure family, colleagues, and neighbors stay safe and warm. In this latest article, we explore essential tips for preparing your residential or commercial generator for the winter season, as well as basic best practices for ensuring power during the cold-weather months.

Winter Power Outage Preparedness 

Preparing for winter power outages requires several critical considerations. Here are some tips to ensure comfort and uptime at home and the office:

  1. Winter Power Outage Survival Kit – Stock up on non-perishable food, bottled water, flashlights, batteries, blankets, and a first-aid kit to keep your home comfortable and safe during an outage.
  2. Stay Connected – Have a battery-powered radio or portable phone charger handy to stay informed and connected with loved ones.
  3. Plan Communication – Coordinate with family, neighbors, and colleagues on how you will keep in touch during an outage.
  4. Know Your Neighbors – Check on vulnerable neighbors and nearby businesses, especially those without backup power, offering assistance and sharing resources to ensure everyone’s safety and comfort.
  5. Community Resources – Familiarize yourself with local warming shelters, power restoration time frames, and emergency response protocols to help yourself during these cold and challenging times.

Purchasing, installing, and maintaining a reliable backup generator will help to provide essential power to your home or office as a major plus for your winter preparedness plan.

Choosing the Best Generator for Cold Weather 

Not all generators are created equal when it comes to winter. When choosing a generator for cold weather, consider these factors:

  • Fuel Type – Propane-powered generators offer superior cold weather performance compared to natural gas or diesel models.
  • Starting Wattage – Choose a generator with enough starting wattage to handle your essential appliances during a power outage.
  • Cold Weather Features – Look for generators equipped with features like battery heaters, block heaters, and cold weather kits.

Top Cold-Weather Generator Brands 

  • Briggs & Stratton – Offers a range of generators with winter-friendly features at various price points.
  • Kohler – Known for their reliable winter performance and comprehensive cold-weather kits.
  • Cummins – Industrial-grade generators built for harsh conditions, ideal for businesses and critical infrastructure.

Winterizing Your Residential Generator

Just like your car needs a tune-up for winter driving, your generator needs a little extra care to combat the harsh conditions. Make sure your backup power source is ready for winter weather.

1. Fuel Up for Winter

  • Choose Your Generator – Before purchasing your standby generator, consider what type of fuel your machine will use for optimal performance in cold months.
  • Maintain Your Fuel Supply – Make sure your standby generator has a reliable source of natural gas, propane, or, in some cases, diesel to fuel your backup power system. 

2. Change Your Oil

  • Maintain Regular Oil Changes – Just like your car, your generator needs clean oil to function smoothly. Change the oil filter at recommended intervals, typically every 50-100 hours.
  • Use Winter-Grade Oil – Switch to a low-viscosity oil for winter, allowing for easier cold starts and better lubrication in freezing temperatures.

3. Keep the Air Flowing

  • Clear the Vents – Snow and debris can block air intake and exhaust, causing overheating and malfunction. Regularly clean out vents to ensure proper airflow.
  • Check the Exhaust Pipe – Ensure the exhaust pipe is free of obstructions and properly angled to prevent snow buildup and back drafting.

4. Exercise Your Generator

  • Run it Regularly: While most standby generators can be programmed to exercise automatically, a professional generator technician can run your generator under load during cold weather to ensure your machine will work properly during the winter.
  • Test Automatic Transfer Switch: While performing routine maintenance, your professional generator technician can also verify that the automatic transfer switch (ATS) seamlessly switches to generator power during a simulated outage.

5. Invest in a Cold Weather Kit

Ask your authorized dealer to check the performance of your cold weather kit:

  • Battery Heater – A battery heater ensures your generator starts easily in sub-freezing temperatures.
  • Block Heater – This preheats the engine coolant, making cold starts smoother and protecting against internal damage.
  • Oil Pan Heater – Keeps the oil warm and flowing for optimal lubrication in cold weather.

Professional Maintenance Matters 

While regular, do-it-yourself maintenance is crucial, entrusting your generator to qualified professionals is paramount for optimal winter performance and peace of mind. Here’s why residential generator service is a necessity:

  • Expert Inspection – Technicians can identify and address potential issues before they become major problems during a power outage.
  • Thorough Cleaning – They can deep clean the generator, removing built-up debris and ensuring efficient operation.
  • Performance Optimization – They can adjust settings and fine-tune the generator for optimal performance in cold weather conditions.

Preparing Your Commercial Generator for Winter

As the temperature drops and the bad weather picks up, it is vital to keep your business running and your customers warm. Join us as we delve into the essential steps for winterizing your commercial generator, ensuring it is ready to go during cold-weather power outages.

1. Select the Right Size

Your business needs a cold-weather generator that can handle its major power requirements. Choose a generator with enough starting and running wattage to keep essential systems and equipment operational during a winter power outage. Trust a generator specialist to help you determine the right size and type of generator needed for your specific commercial application.

2. Maintain Enough Fuel

Commercial operations often rely on diesel generators for their extended runtimes and reliability in harsh conditions. Ensure adequate fuel storage and consider backup fuel sources for extended outages.

3. Schedule Routine Maintenance

Commercial generators require more frequent maintenance than residential ones. Stick to a strict maintenance schedule, including regular oil changes, filter replacements, and inspections by qualified technicians.

4. Switch Over Seamlessly

An industrial-grade automatic transfer switch allows for seamless switchover to generator power during outages. This eliminates downtime and ensures critical operations continue uninterrupted.

5. Test Your Generator

Regularly test your commercial generator under load to ensure it functions flawlessly in cold conditions. Conduct simulated outages and practice emergency protocols to keep your business running smoothly. Load banking is a vital winter maintenance step for underused generators, as it exercises the system, ensures performance, removes carbon buildup, and verifies it can handle emergency power demands.

Commercial Generator Service 

When it comes to continuous operations and safe customers, don’t gamble with winter outages. Investing in professional commercial generator maintenance before the cold bites is a shrewd move for any business. Regular checkups – including testing, inspections, and troubleshooting – empower your generator to run reliably during wintry conditions. And for those unexpected blizzards? Reliable generator specialists offer 24/7 emergency response to get you back online quickly, minimizing downtime and keeping your business humming.

Trust Tower Generator Commercial Generator Installation & Service

Don’t let heavy snow weigh you down this winter! For nearly 30 years, residential and commercial customers have trusted the experts at Tower Generator for all their backup and emergency power needs – especially during the winter months in the northeast. Ask us about our maintenance programs, emergency service, and 118-point service program to ensure continuous uptime of your generator. From brand new installations to routine service, Tower Generator handles 100% of the project 100% of the time. We’re an authorized dealer of the top generator brands, providing turnkey power solutions for diverse industries. Contact us today to discuss installing a new backup power system or to schedule a service appointment for an existing generator for the cold-weather months.