I was reviewing posts on this forum in regards to maintenance intervals, and found the one titled Altering recommended maintenance with low gen set hours by Psheehy interesting. I'd like to hear your thoughts about extending the oil change interval for standby gen sets beyond the typical 12 months time frame.
When extending oil change intervals for standby generator sets, the usual concerns include:
Condensation / Water
When ambient conditions are right, water condenses on the interior surfaces of the engine. This condensation, besides rusting and pitting metal surfaces, will combine with sulfur in the oil to form acid vapors, then corrosive attack occurs.
Besides the damage the rusting process creates, the increased iron content can cause abrasive and adhesive damage to other areas of the engine. Condensation combined with oil will create an emulsion, which will plug the oil filter and allow potential bacterial contamination.
Engine oil stored in unsealed containers (i.e. engine sump) for a prolonged period of time can absorb moisture from the air. Standby generator sets located in controlled environments will typically experience fewer condensation problems.
The acid formed when condensation and sulfur combine is neutralized by part of the oil's additive package, thus depleting it and lowering the oil's ability to protect the engine.
This can lead to deposits, sludge formation, lacquering, varnish and carbon build-up, liner bore polishing and ring sticking.
Oil will oxidize at a rate directly related to time and temperature.
The more oxidized an oil becomes, the less protection it provides to an engine's moving parts.
Filter media will tend to deteriorate from being immersed in oil or fuel for prolonged periods of time.
Any water or acid content will speed up this process.
What your thoughts about extending the oil change intervals for standby generator sets?
Do you have concerns on extending the oil change interval?
Is this widely accepted in the industry today for standby generator sets?
What's the value?
Do the cost savings of oil outweigh any perceived risks?
Are you extending the oil change interval today? If so, how often are you changing the oil?
If you're extending the oil change interval currently, do you base this decision on experience, or look to the OEMs to provide you with guidelines to follow?
Are any OEMs providing this guidance to your knowledge?
Not knowing the worldwide population of standby generator sets, I did some basic math. If you assumed 80 gallons of oil (average sump) times 100,000 standby generator sets, and extended the oil change interval to every 24 months, that's a reduction of 8 million gallons of waste oil. Do it every 36 months, and that's a reduction of 16 million gallons of waste oil. See where I'm going? Does going “green” influence this decision?
As OEMs continue looking for positive sustainable solutions, I'm very interested in hearing your thoughts. Please post them via the form below.