Home generators have indeed become an indispensable part of your daily life in the sense that they supply power in emergencies, be it adverse climatic conditions or a power outage.
However, while using them, we must remember that they are prone to wear and tear and use them accordingly. Like all other appliances, they too malfunction, be it a generator from Predator, Ryobi, Generac, Honda, Onan, or Champion. In fact, they can be risky if overloaded.
Knowing the signs that indicate generator overloading and identifying the causes leading to generator overload is important. You must also be well acquainted with the risks associated with generator overloading.
If you have a generator at your place, this guide is for you. Go through the guide below to understand the causes of generator overload and how to fix the issue.
What Causes Generators To Overload?
Usually, portable generators experience overloading when their wattage limitations exceed. This means when the number of appliances connected is more than they are designed to run.
Most generators can sustain the increase in wattage for a short time. If they are connected to multiple devices for hours, the generator can no longer keep pace with the excess need for power and automatically goes into overload mode.
If the generator is connected to a circuit breaker, the entire system shuts down. If it’s not, there are high chances of a fire hazard occurring.
Apart from the increase in the wattage limitations, there are a few other reasons that cause generator overload. Some of them are mentioned below:
- The appliance connected is higher than the rated wattage of the generator
- There’s a short in the wiring system
- The appliance or equipment connected to the generator is faulty
- The polarity of the magnets is fluctuating
- Malfunctioning generator
If the generator overload problem is occurring simply because it’s connected to an appliance whose rated wattage is more than the generator can handle, simply disconnect it from the generator. That will solve the issue. However, the generator overload light can be on due to other reasons as well. Read below to know how to fix an overloaded generator in different circumstances.
Why Generator Overload With Nothing Plugged In?
Sometimes, the generator overload problem occurs even when it is not connected to any appliance. This occurs when the generator has run without a load for some time. This problem usually doesn’t occur, but can occur if it keeps running without being connected to any appliance for some time.
If you are facing a similar issue, do not panic. Simply reset the generator. First, disconnect the main source of power. Then restart the generator. Before resetting it, press the overload reset button once to reset the settings. Now, when the generator is switched on, connect it to a load and see if the overload indicator still blinks.
Even after resetting the generator, the issue isn’t fixed, it may be because it’s malfunctioning or needs to be inspected by an expert. In that case, call a professional without any further delay and have him fix the issue.
7 Ways To Fix an Overloaded Generator
Usually, when a generator is connected to multiple appliances, it has to work harder to supply power to each one of them. Consequently, it gets overloaded and its rated wattage exceeds, causing overheating.
Some of the latest models of generators have circuit breakers that prevent the generator from getting overheated. But, if a circuit breaker is absent, and the generator is overloaded, it can damage the electrical appliances it is connected to. A fire hazard can occur in such circumstances, which is extremely dangerous.
That’s why it’s important to look for signs that indicate generator overload and get the issue fixed as soon as possible. Different people try out different ways to fix this issue. We have enlisted some of the most effective and easy ways to fix an overloaded generator and help homeowners avoid a major accident due to generator overload. Let’s go through them one by one below:
Switch off the generator first
The latest models of generators usually have a circuit breaker. If your generator too has one, it will automatically shut down once it detects an overload.
On the other hand, if your generator doesn’t have a circuit breaker, you must switch it off because running the generator when it’s overloaded is risky.
Unplug all electrical equipment connected
As soon as you find out that your generator is overloaded, you must switch it off. Next, you must unplug all the appliances that were connected. Before proceeding to the next step, it’s important to reduce the load on the generator.
Find out the cause of the overload
The next thing you need to do is find out what caused the overload. To do that, check the wattage limitation first. If there’s no information on the generator, check the machine’s manual. Being a user, you must know the limit as it will help you prevent another overload in future.
Restart the generator
When the overload light blinks On and continues to stay On, it means that the generator is experiencing overload. To prevent an accident from occurring, you must restart the generator.
To do that, you simply need to power Off the generator. You can also flip the circuit breakers and restart the generator again. Before doing any of these, remember to disconnect or unplug all the appliances from the generator first.
This is a simple step that any homeowner can follow. If this doesn’t fix the issue, and the overload light continues to blink, contact a professional and allow him to look into the matter.
Turn the generator to Eco mode
If you notice that the alarm light is ON, indicating an overload, you must set your generator to the ECO mode. Doing so is expected to prevent the generator from getting overloaded any further.
Even in Eco mode, the generator provides sufficient power to the appliances, while simultaneously preventing generator overload in the process.
Reset the Inverter generator if the overload light is On
If you use an inverter generator and the overload light is On constantly, even though the generator hasn’t exceeded the rated load, it means your inverter is malfunctioning. In that case, you need to buy a new inverter because it cannot be repaired.
On the other hand, if the generator is exceeding the standard load, you must disconnect the appliances connected to the inverter and reset the inverter generator by following the steps mentioned in the manual.
However, before making any decision, you must consult a professional.
Buy a new circuit breaker
In case of a major overload, the circuit breaker will shut down the entire connection. In that case, follow the below-mentioned steps to restart the generator:
- Firstly, unplug all electrical equipment.
- Now check whether the rated load wattage has been surpassed before resetting the circuit breaker.
- Next, you have to restart the generator. For that, press the reset button, if it has one, and hold it for one second. Follow the manual if the resetting procedure is different.
- Now plug the electrical appliances that need to be connected to the generator, after the overload light indicator has gone off.
On the other hand, if the overboard warning light still blinks, you must take the generator to a professional. That’s because the cause of the warning indicator blinking can be something other than overloading. Sometimes, the generator has a shortcut, because of which the warning lights blink. If that’s the case, you must replace the entire generator.
After you have fixed the generator and it’s running properly, without showing overloading issues, you must call a professional frequently to have the generator inspected. We advise homeowners to do so to ensure that the generator has no faulty parts or cables that are connecting it to other appliances. Knowing this will help homeowners avoid generator overload problems in the future.
Generator overload signs
If your generator is overloaded more than it can sustain, you can expect any of the following problems to occur:
An extremely noisy generator fan
If the fan is producing weird sounds when the generator is on it means the generator is overloaded. The fan is likely to produce noise only when it works harder to keep the engine cool.
A drop in power output
A decrease in power output occurs when a generator requires a little amount of power but ends up consuming more. This happens when the generator is overloaded.
When the equipment gets overheated, it means it’s working harder than it’s designed to.
Do you feel the generator is producing more heat than it usually does? Do you notice the fans working harder to cool down the engine? These signs indicate generator overloading.
Weird noises coming out from the generator
When generators are overloaded excessively, they tend to make weird noises. Loud noises indicate that the generator is experiencing a load that it can’t sustain.
Soot in the exhaust
If you notice soot in the machine’s exhaust system, you must check if you are overloading the machine. Presence of soot in the exhaust is an indication of generator overloading.
If you notice any of the above mentioned signs, the first thing you must know is that your generator is overloaded. Therefore, unplug all the appliances and switch the generator off immediately.
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The Bottom Line
The purpose of your generator is to supply your house with power when the power supply goes off. But, you must be responsible enough to understand that a power outage isn’t the right time to host a party. When you overuse the generator during such times, it works harder than it is designed to, causing generator overload.
If you use a generator at your place, remember that overloading is extremely dangerous, not only because it can damage the appliances but can also cause a fire hazard. Therefore, users must maintain the output rate of the machine and never exceed it.
Do not run multiple appliances on the generator unnecessarily. Turn off the appliances you do not require, as that will save energy and prevent the generator from overloading.
The next important thing to note for the proper functioning of the generator is regular maintenance. Like all other appliances, the generator too must be inspected and maintained.
Remember the do’s and don’ts and use them accordingly. See what kind of oil the manufacturer has recommended. Do not put any random oil inside the generator. Replace the air filters frequently or as suggested by a professional.
Following the maintenance tips properly will ensure the longevity of the machine and prevent any mechanical breakdown, especially when you need it the most.