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Generator Turbocharging - Why?

Updated: Mar 1, 2022

If you have ever tried to exert yourself at elevation, you should have noticed that you become out of breath more quickly. It is because the oxygen density of the air you breathe decreases as you go higher in elevation. A similar thing happens to an engine. The higher the elevation, the less air and oxygen there is for fuel combustion, so the engine loses power. The solution is to turbocharge at elevation.

A naturally aspirated engine, also known as a normally aspirated engine, is an internal combustion engine in which air intake depends solely on atmospheric pressure and does not have forced induction through a turbocharger or a supercharger.

A naturally aspirated engine that most smaller generators use will lose 3% of its power for every 1,000 ft of elevation gain without turbocharging.

For example

at 1,000 ft of elevation, you lose 3%,

at 10,000 ft of elevation, you lose 30%

This may not seem like much, but it affects starting, fuel efficiency and a generator's ability to work hard under heavy load.

When you need an engine to perform normally at altitude, consider one with a turbocharger.

Benefits Of Turbo Diesel Generators

A turbocharger (turbo) is a turbine-driven, forced induction device that increases an internal combustion engine's power output by forcing extra compressed air into the combustion chamber.

Turbocharging at elevation is an efficient way to minimize horsepower loss due to elevation and lower air density. At high elevations, turbochargers compress more air into the engine cylinders making up for the lower air density allowing the engine to produce power as if it was at sea level. This extra tunability is found only in turbocharged applications.

The generator engines will adjust boost pressure and other parameters to maintain the same power as long as the turbocharger can support the additional air volume and engine speed.

Caring for a Turbo Engine

Turbos can get very hot as they use the exhaust airflow to spin them and another port on it to compress the air intake before it enters the engine.

Oil is used to cool and lubricate the turbocharger. Oil is already crucial to an engine's longevity. It's invaluable to the life of a turbocharger. If your generator has been working hard, let it run for five minutes before turning it off so it can continue to cool itself and not cook the oil in contact with it from the high temperature. Most generators, transfer switches and Genset controllers will have a "cool down" period you can set to automate this process.

Should you get a turbocharged generator?

Even at normal altitudes, turbo engines can produce more power using smaller engines. Turbo is also used on many cars today for increased power and performance at any altitude. The same applies to generator engines.

Turbo makes a bit more noise because of the increased air-flow but for generators that need to work very hard at times, the turbo makes a difference in the fuel efficiency and power they can provide under difficult environmental conditions.

Turbocharged engines should not require any more maintenance than a non-turbocharged engine but, may well suggest that you use synthetic oil to help prevent the lube oil from breaking down due to extreme heat.

Aurora Generators Inc.

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