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Is your AC Unit Overloading Your Generator?

August 23, 2019

Did you know that your AC unit can have a very negative effect on your generator? On multiple occasions when we get a call for a generator overloading during a summer outage, the problem is related back to the homeowner’s AC unit. 

The AC unit on your home is the largest single power appliance you operate. To make matters worse, it sits outside in the heat with the rain, bugs and dirt. All of which decrease your AC unit’s ability to cool your home and increases the power consumption. The Compressor in your AC unit is what does the heavy lifting when it comes to cooling your home, and like all other mechanical equipment, it becomes less efficient and more difficult to start with age. 


But what does all of this mean for a home and standby generator owner? It’s simple really when we get right down to it. When your power goes out, you ask your generator to step up and take care of your needs, and they do by powering your appliances and all the neat things you have, including your AC. But what if your AC is not operating at its peak efficiency? It places a severe strain on your generator. The old compressor could have bad start capacitors that don’t allow the compressor to reach full speed efficiently, quickly dragging your generator system down. 


A homeowner’s first thought is, ‘it has to be the generator because my AC operates fine on Utility power.’ But what a lot of homeowners don’t realize is that the Utility power has an unlimited supply of surge power, which can power up even the worst preforming AC compressor. Whereas your generator has a limited supply of surge power and once you exceed that amount of surge power the generator shuts down. Sometimes the AC compressor may only be consuming a few amps more than the generator can handle. While that would never be a problem on the utility company, it will overload your generator.


We have seen on more than one occasion bad start capacitors causing a generator to overload when the AC unit is powered on. So, what can you do?  It’s always important to make sure your AC technicians are cleaning your coils, changing your air filters, and checking the compressors start capacitors. 


It’s equally important that your generator technician understand the effects of your AC load on the generator and properly service and test your generator. Finding it hard to start alongside your AC unit during routine maintenance may save you a long hot night waiting for someone to repair your AC unit.


If you have any questions, please give us a call at 501-315-7213. We’ll be happy to talk to you!