Recommended Service: Replace Batteries in Your Standby Generator Every Two Years

May 3, 2023

Generator won’t start? It could be a dead battery.


Although a bad battery charger or charging system may cause batteries to prematurely expire, dead batteries are not always symptoms of a larger problem. The manufacturer’s stated life of a battery is an estimate, and all sorts of factors can contribute to shortening that lifespan. Generators that exercise infrequently may allow the battery to die from sitting uncharged for too long. Unclean environments or pests can erode or damage battery connections, causing the battery to fail to start a generator. South Florida environmental hazards like heat, salt, and humidity may also play a role in expediting battery failure. For reasons such as these, professionals in the back-up power industry recommend that batteries in standby generators be replaced every two years.


From the generator maintenance technician’s perspective, a dead battery may be a symptom of some greater issue. A dead battery can be the result of a faulty, disconnected, or missing battery charging system. A weak or dead battery can cause the starter to fail. It can cause the generator to display a variety of error codes on the control panel. It can confuse the engine computer. It can interrupt a troubleshoot because the unit must turn on, at a minimum, in order for a proper diagnostic to be performed. One of our policies at Megawattage is to bring a spare battery to every service call, which ensures that our endeavors are not hindered by this common issue.


We do not suggest that our clients keep spare batteries around. We can handle that. Megawattage recognizes the importance of batteries, and we prioritize attention to the batteries during our regular maintenance inspection services:


⦁ First, the terminals and battery connections must remain secure. Everything in South Florida is subject to rust and erosion from moisture and salt in the air. Megawattage technicians regularly treat battery terminals with cleaner and rust protection. We tighten down connections when we can and replace parts as needed. If a good battery is failing, checking the terminals is the best first response.


⦁ Second, it is important to keep the battery and battery cables clean, as well as the inside of the generator enclosure. Unfortunately, the same enclosure that keeps your generator protected from the elements can become a haven for bugs and rodents who will nest in the dark, dry, warm cables. Megawattage technicians regularly clean out enclosures during the process of inspecting and cleaning terminal cables and connections. We also recommend changing out battery cables as needed, per hazards of heat and waste that inadvertently occur in the outside environment.


⦁ Third, setting up a regular generator exercise is great for both battery health and overall generator maintenance. Regular exercise not only charges the battery but, in the event of generator failure, will send the alert that there is a no-start failure in time for repairs to be performed. The alternative is, of course, not realizing that the battery is dead or the generator is otherwise failing until there is an actual power outage emergency. That situation must be avoided. During quarterly inspections, Megawattage technicians will confirm that the generator is regularly and correctly exercising, and we inspect the charging system to ensure that the battery is being properly maintained. Sometimes, we recommend solar chargers or plug-in chargers according to a client’s specific needs.


⦁ When standby power is necessary, the unreliability of aging and weakening batteries is simply not acceptable. It is recommended that the battery be changed every two years.

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