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06/09/2015 | Should Rental Firms Offer Parallel Generator Systems?

Parallel generator systems, also called parallel configurations, are power generation solutions where more than one generator is connected via a central controller module that manages the generators to optimize power delivery and fuel economy. The controller monitors load requirements and dynamically adjusts the load on each generator to accomplish the most efficient load sharing. It can even shut down and then restart one or more of the generators to most efficiently meet fluctuating load demands.

Parallel systems also simplify maintenance and repair, because the controller can keep some generators running while taking others offline for servicing. When this capability provides the impetus for a well-run maintenance program, it can also foster increased engine longevity, especially given that more efficient, appropriate load distribution is also a contributing factor.

Finally, with a parallel system, a company can be assured of 100% power continuity, short of a site-wide fuel shortage. With two or more properly maintained generators working together, it is statistically nearly impossible for both to fail at the same time. Power continuity has historically been one of the main reasons that companies deploy parallel configurations, and data centers, hospitals and other operations where power is mission critical rely on them heavily.

For these enterprises, it may be—but is not necessarily—most economical to purchase the generators and create a permanent parallel system. If this is the case, where does that leave rental companies? It leaves them with plenty of room to offer these efficient systems to other customers.

Recent portable power supply advances, including lighter but stronger enclosures, more compact footprints, better portability and more user-friendly connection systems have made it easy and often quite expeditious to deliver and setup rental generators in a parallel configuration. Parallel generators can also operate with mixed fuel types (e.g. one natural gas and one diesel generator). This configuration lets operators enjoy the rapid transient response of a diesel generator for startup (and life/safety power, if mandated) with the fuel availability and environmental benefit of one or more natural gas generators for the majority of ongoing load needs.

Depending on load requirements, a parallel configuration can also save operators money, which is often the benefit that tips the scale in favor of renting a parallel generator system. For example, assume that a rental company customer is powering a jobsite where his maximum load will be approximately 400kVA, but the load could drop to as low as 200kVA depending on the operating parameters at the time.

Traditional wisdom might suggest that a single 500kVA genset would be the appropriate rental choice. However, if the customer rented a parallel system consisting of two 230kVA units, the fuel savings would be anywhere between 10-40%, depending on how often the controller was able to take one generator offline.

With hurricane season underway, some rental customers may be planning to rent an emergency backup generator to ensure power continuity if a storm heads their way. Now is a great time for rental company representatives to educate these customers about all the value-add benefits of parallel systems and make the most of this untapped market. For an extended storm related outage, a parallel system would help a firm most efficiently adapt to changing power needs as its office met the challenge of the storm and then adjusted occupancy levels in the recovery period afterward.

There’s more to the story of parallel generator systems, and if you’d like to explore their potential further, we invite you to call 913-495-5557 to speak with an expert technician. You may also find the rental power generation pages on our site helpful. While you are there, sign up for myHIPOWER to gain access to extended site benefits and more.



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