How Often Should You Run a Mobile Generator?

How Often Should You Run a Mobile Generator?

A generator is a reliable way to keep your business or facility running during a power outage. For many organizations, it may not be necessary or cost effective to install a permanent, stand-by generator. In those cases, renting a mobile generator (also described as a towable generator) during periods of increased outage risk, or once an outage occurs, can be a wise solution.

Operating a mobile generator requires an understanding of regulations in place from your air quality district and other authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) in your area. You will only be allowed to operate your mobile generator for a certain number of hours per month under such rules. 

However, you don’t want to leave your mobile generator idle for long periods of time until you need it to generate power for your facility. It should run periodically to remain in top shape, and should even run under load conditions some of those times. 

Which begs the question, “how often should I run my mobile generator?”

Below are some tips for running a generator effectively:

  • If there is an emergency, or no prime power is available, then there is no limit on run time hours.
  • If not in use, run the generator weekly for 10 minutes OR monthly for 20-30 minutes.
  • Perform a load bank annually, unless the generator is operating at load conditions periodically.
  • Plan on having the generator serviced regularly. We service our mobile generators every 250 run time hours.

Other factors will determine how often you can run your generator and how long.

The answer to that question depends upon several things:

  • Size: any industrial engine (including those used in a mobile generator) greater than 50 bhp (brake horsepower) is required to obtain a permit from the regional air quality district (BAAQMD, for example). There are limits on the amount of hours you can run the generator. Given that we’re talking about a towable generator, however, you will likely not be required to secure a permit if it is in place for less than 12 months.
  • Outage status: of course, if utility power is out, you can run the generator to operate your facility. You may also be allowed to run the engine for a certain number of hours before or after a scheduled power outage.
  • Maintenance requirements. You should schedule maintenance (including running the generator to test performance) within the hours allowed by the air quality district. A balance needs to be maintained because if a generator is rarely run, it could develop a condition called “wet stacking” that would prevent it from handling the intended load. (; periodic load bank testing should be incorporated into the maintenance plan 
  • Fuel capacity, level, and usage rate: To provide sufficient protection for your facility, your generator’s fuel level should remain high enough so you can avoid having to worry about refueling in the early stages of an outage. Fuel requirements are highly dependent on the size of the generator and the load on it. For example, a small generator may only burn around 1 gallon per hour, whereas a large mobile generator may consume dozens of gallons per hour. 

We can help

CD & Power is Northern California’s largest independent generator service company, and we offer a 24/7 hotline to our direct customers. We also have a huge selection of generator rentals if needed while repairs are underway. If you have a generator failure that demands instant action, we are easy to reach at 1 (866) 468-7697.


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