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Standby Generator Starting in VERY cold weather

Let me start a little tangential thread. My generator can be started in merely cold weather by use of glow plugs. But suppose that weather becomes extremely cold, such as -20F (It happened here). In times of outages, starting a generator becomes extremely urgent due to quick cooling of the house.
Should I expect to be able to start my Onan DJE with just glow plugs?
(I know that I should try that)
If not, I have a cheap propane torch with little gas bottles. Would it be able to warm the generator and air in that enclosure, sufficiently?
What is the practical thing to do under the circumstances to get the generator going?
The genset is in an enclosure.
i

Standby Generator Starting in VERY cold weather

Ignoramus607 wrote:

Let me start a little tangential thread. My generator can be started in merely cold weather by use of glow plugs. But suppose that weather becomes extremely cold, such as -20F (It happened here). In times of outages, starting a generator becomes extremely urgent due to quick cooling of the house.
Should I expect to be able to start my Onan DJE with just glow plugs?
(I know that I should try that)
If not, I have a cheap propane torch with little gas bottles. Would it be able to warm the generator and air in that enclosure, sufficiently?
What is the practical thing to do under the circumstances to get the generator going?
The genset is in an enclosure.
i

Park your gas grill in that enclosure and warm up the air inside. Helps if the crankcase oil gets warm as well, so the engine spins faster when cranking. That generates more heat for combustion.
-- Steve Spence Dir., Green Trust, http://www.green-trust.org Contributing Editor, http://www.off-grid.net http://www.rebelwolf.com/essn.html

Standby Generator Starting in VERY cold weather

On Thu, 01 Dec 2005 15:52:42 GMT, Ignoramus607 wrote:

Let me start a little tangential thread. My generator can be started in merely cold weather by use of glow plugs. But suppose that weather becomes extremely cold, such as -20F (It happened here). In times of outages, starting a generator becomes extremely urgent due to quick cooling of the house.
Should I expect to be able to start my Onan DJE with just glow plugs?
(I know that I should try that)
If not, I have a cheap propane torch with little gas bottles. Would it be able to warm the generator and air in that enclosure, sufficiently?

That might do it.. But.. it might overheat and start a fire..

What is the practical thing to do under the circumstances to get the generator going?
The genset is in an enclosure.

Add some insulation.. (described previously.. so you only have to this at the onset of outage.)
Message-ID:
And a vent.. for combustion byproducts..
http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=2349689&cat=133026&type=1&dept=5428&path=0%3A5428%3A133032%3A133026 "Kerosene Heater, 10,000 btu" $99.88
"Heat up to a 500-square-foot area with this powerful kerosene heater. It operates 12 hours on one filling, making it perfect for emergencies. With no installation required, it's easy and convenient to use."

Standby Generator Starting in VERY cold weather

On Thu, 01 Dec 2005 11:25:34 -0500, Steve Spence wrote:

Ignoramus607 wrote: Let me start a little tangential thread. My generator can be started in merely cold weather by use of glow plugs. But suppose that weather becomes extremely cold, such as -20F (It happened here). In times of outages, starting a generator becomes extremely urgent due to quick cooling of the house.
Should I expect to be able to start my Onan DJE with just glow plugs?
(I know that I should try that)
If not, I have a cheap propane torch with little gas bottles. Would it be able to warm the generator and air in that enclosure, sufficiently?
What is the practical thing to do under the circumstances to get the generator going?
The genset is in an enclosure.
i
Park your gas grill in that enclosure and warm up the air inside. Helps if the crankcase oil gets warm as well, so the engine spins faster when cranking. That generates more heat for combustion.

I could almost park my enclosure inside the gas grill. :)
Seriously, I think that I will try to look for a torch that connects to a propane cylinder. My grill is based on NG, but I have a couple of gas cylinders lying around.
i

Standby Generator Starting in VERY cold weather

Ignoramus607 wrote:

On Thu, 01 Dec 2005 11:25:34 -0500, Steve Spence wrote:
Ignoramus607 wrote:
Let me start a little tangential thread. My generator can be started in merely cold weather by use of glow plugs. But suppose that weather becomes extremely cold, such as -20F (It happened here). In times of outages, starting a generator becomes extremely urgent due to quick cooling of the house.
Should I expect to be able to start my Onan DJE with just glow plugs?
(I know that I should try that)
If not, I have a cheap propane torch with little gas bottles. Would it be able to warm the generator and air in that enclosure, sufficiently?
What is the practical thing to do under the circumstances to get the generator going?
The genset is in an enclosure.
i
Park your gas grill in that enclosure and warm up the air inside. Helps if the crankcase oil gets warm as well, so the engine spins faster when cranking. That generates more heat for combustion.
I could almost park my enclosure inside the gas grill. :)
Seriously, I think that I will try to look for a torch that connects to a propane cylinder. My grill is based on NG, but I have a couple of gas cylinders lying around.
i

My generator is bigger than 10 bbq grills, so my vision of what you have may be off.
maybe this will help. http://www.mrheater.com/products.asp

-- Steve Spence Dir., Green Trust, http://www.green-trust.org Contributing Editor, http://www.off-grid.net http://www.rebelwolf.com/essn.html

Standby Generator Starting in VERY cold weather

Couple of possibilities, some much more suited to a "backup" than an "off-grid" setup (burning KWhs).
The simple one. Your portable propane torch, direct it, lit, into the air intake, warming the intake air marginally. A common, quick, safe approach. Oversize the starting battery and cables, be sure that all battery & cable connections are clean and tight so that the starter is getting full power, use synthetic oil (at least during the winter) and you should be fine for most days. Most days you should not even need the torch.
The slightly more benign (no open flames) version of the above eats more battery, using a heating element in the intake manifold. My backhoe supposedly has this, but it appears to be broken, and I have not fixed it yet. Factory ether injection was also an option on the backhoe (but there are no glow plugs on it). I think the smart money would use separate batteries for cranking and heating, though the backhoe is not set up that way.
The consumptive one - slap one of those engine block or oil pan heaters on an appropriate part of the thing. Waste electricity keeping it warm - when the power goes out, it will be warm, you can start it, if you don't wait too long. Insulating the enclosure helps, but it's still power wasting...
Since you are on-grid a quality (smart) battery maintainer, or a dumb charger hooked to a timer switch will help keep the battery up to snuff. Off-grid a solar panel (either small enough that it can't overcharge, or with a charge controller to serve as the "smart" charger) will do the same.
Put a solar air heater on the south side of the well-insulated enclosure, if it gets any sun to speak of. Only works on sunny days.
Variations on "airplane tales form the arctic" - drain the oil, keep it in the house. Have a camp stove or barbecue to heat the oil before pouring it in the generator just prior to starting it. Place oil lamps or other simple heaters under the engine, inside insulated enclosure. A hassle, and/or a fire risk. One of those propane catalytic heaters might lower the fire risk (no open flame), but it's yet another fuel to keep around.
A small gasoline generator would be another option (again, two fuels) - easier to start in the cold, provides heat and power to help get the diesel up and running - or set up a gasoline engine as a "pony" motor to actually serve as the starter for the diesel (a common older setup on tractors).
Dropping the enclosure into the ground (ie, the generator is in the "basement" of a power shack, or its own "root cellar" or "storm cellar") helps to moderate the temperature a great deal if the basement reaches below frost line, and the walls/roof are well insulated. This can also make it a lot quieter, and/or less obvious (you still need air in, and air/exhaust out).
-- Cats, coffee, chocolate...vices to live by

Standby Generator Starting in VERY cold weather

On Thu, 01 Dec 2005 12:28:55 -0500, Steve Spence wrote:

Ignoramus607 wrote: On Thu, 01 Dec 2005 11:25:34 -0500, Steve Spence wrote:
Ignoramus607 wrote:
Let me start a little tangential thread. My generator can be started in merely cold weather by use of glow plugs. But suppose that weather becomes extremely cold, such as -20F (It happened here). In times of outages, starting a generator becomes extremely urgent due to quick cooling of the house.
Should I expect to be able to start my Onan DJE with just glow plugs?
(I know that I should try that)
If not, I have a cheap propane torch with little gas bottles. Would it be able to warm the generator and air in that enclosure, sufficiently?
What is the practical thing to do under the circumstances to get the generator going?
The genset is in an enclosure.
i
Park your gas grill in that enclosure and warm up the air inside. Helps if the crankcase oil gets warm as well, so the engine spins faster when cranking. That generates more heat for combustion.
I could almost park my enclosure inside the gas grill. :)
Seriously, I think that I will try to look for a torch that connects to a propane cylinder. My grill is based on NG, but I have a couple of gas cylinders lying around.
i
My generator is bigger than 10 bbq grills, so my vision of what you have may be off.
maybe this will help. http://www.mrheater.com/products.asp

I was thinking about something like ebay item
http://cgi.ebay.com/Propane-Torch-Ice-Melter-Weed-Burner-Killer_W0QQitemZ7567666114
I could carefully use it to warm air inside and heat the genset some. (by inserting it for a short period of time, not by continuous fire).
i

Standby Generator Starting in VERY cold weather

On Thu, 01 Dec 2005 17:30:51 GMT, Ecnerwal wrote:

Couple of possibilities, some much more suited to a "backup" than an "off-grid" setup (burning KWhs).
The simple one. Your portable propane torch, direct it, lit, into the air intake, warming the intake air marginally.

Makes sense. Is warming of the generator itself (crankcase etc, not only the incoming air) necessary?

A common, quick, safe approach. Oversize the starting battery and cables, be sure that all battery & cable connections are clean and tight so that the starter is getting full power

I did that already, I use 1 gauge gattery cables with proper lugs, etc.

, use synthetic oil (at least during the winter) and you should be fine for most days. Most days you should not even need the torch.

Sounds good. I will experiment this winter.

The slightly more benign (no open flames) version of the above eats more battery, using a heating element in the intake manifold. My backhoe supposedly has this, but it appears to be broken, and I have not fixed it yet. Factory ether injection was also an option on the backhoe (but there are no glow plugs on it). I think the smart money would use separate batteries for cranking and heating, though the backhoe is not set up that way.

I agree.

The consumptive one - slap one of those engine block or oil pan heaters on an appropriate part of the thing. Waste electricity keeping it warm - when the power goes out, it will be warm, you can start it, if you don't wait too long. Insulating the enclosure helps, but it's still power wasting...
Since you are on-grid a quality (smart) battery maintainer, or a dumb charger hooked to a timer switch will help keep the battery up to snuff.

I have a smart trickle charger (with built in timet to wake up and recharge). I already hooked it all up.

Variations on "airplane tales form the arctic" - drain the oil, keep it in the house. Have a camp stove or barbecue to heat the oil before pouring it in the generator just prior to starting it. Place oil lamps or other simple heaters under the engine, inside insulated enclosure. A hassle, and/or a fire risk. One of those propane catalytic heaters might lower the fire risk (no open flame), but it's yet another fuel to keep around.
A small gasoline generator would be another option (again, two fuels) - easier to start in the cold, provides heat and power to help get the diesel up and running - or set up a gasoline engine as a "pony" motor to actually serve as the starter for the diesel (a common older setup on tractors).

I have a small gas generator, a 40 year old Sears generator that I bought for $3, but I need to fix it.

Dropping the enclosure into the ground (ie, the generator is in the "basement" of a power shack, or its own "root cellar" or "storm cellar") helps to moderate the temperature a great deal if the basement reaches below frost line, and the walls/roof are well insulated. This can also make it a lot quieter, and/or less obvious (you still need air in, and air/exhaust out).

What do you think about a propane torch like this?
http://cgi.ebay.com/Propane-Torch-Ice-Melter-Weed-Burner-Killer_W0QQitemZ7567666114QQcategoryZ61574QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
i

Standby Generator Starting in VERY cold weather

Ecnerwal wrote:

... slap one of those engine block or oil pan heaters on an appropriate part of the thing. Waste electricity keeping it warm -

My diesel tractor has a 460 W block heater with no thermostat. This helps:
http://www.countrysupply.com/products/sku-BEW19.html
Nick

Standby Generator Starting in VERY cold weather

In article , Ignoramus607 wrote:

Makes sense. Is warming of the generator itself (crankcase etc, not only the incoming air) necessary?

If the starting system is up to snuff, and the oil is synthetic, preheating just the combustion air should be enough for most cases. If you find that that won't cut it below temperature X, _safely_ heating the entire enclosure is probably your best bet. You do pretty much need to try things on an individual setup to find what actually works.

What do you think about a propane torch like this?

That a catalytic propane heater (looks like a "bug-eye") or a torpedo heater (but those usually need electricity) is much less likely to get you a visit from the boys in the bright red shiny trucks. "Weed burners" are "massive" open flame - they are also a pain to get lit in the cold. Pointing one into your generator shed is pretty close to arson. The ceramics folks I know use these to fire their trash-can-kilns (lined with ceramic fiber blanket). 2-5 feet of flame is not atypical. Use a nice, normal, small propane torch if you're pointing a torch down the intake, and a catalytic heater if you're trying for gas heat.
Also, be sure to hit your diesel fuel supply with "winterizer" anti-gelling additives, often also with biocide/stabilizers. Be sure that the motor has run on winterized fuel before winter, so the fuel system on the engine is not full of goo when it gets cold.
-- Cats, coffee, chocolate...vices to live by

Standby Generator Starting in VERY cold weather

On Thu, 01 Dec 2005 18:58:16 GMT, Ecnerwal wrote:

In article , Ignoramus607 wrote:
Makes sense. Is warming of the generator itself (crankcase etc, not only the incoming air) necessary?
If the starting system is up to snuff, and the oil is synthetic, preheating just the combustion air should be enough for most cases. If you find that that won't cut it below temperature X, _safely_ heating the entire enclosure is probably your best bet. You do pretty much need to try things on an individual setup to find what actually works.
What do you think about a propane torch like this?
That a catalytic propane heater (looks like a "bug-eye") or a torpedo heater (but those usually need electricity) is much less likely to get you a visit from the boys in the bright red shiny trucks. "Weed burners" are "massive" open flame - they are also a pain to get lit in the cold. Pointing one into your generator shed is pretty close to arson. The ceramics folks I know use these to fire their trash-can-kilns (lined with ceramic fiber blanket). 2-5 feet of flame is not atypical. Use a nice, normal, small propane torch if you're pointing a torch down the intake, and a catalytic heater if you're trying for gas heat.
Also, be sure to hit your diesel fuel supply with "winterizer" anti-gelling additives, often also with biocide/stabilizers. Be sure that the motor has run on winterized fuel before winter, so the fuel system on the engine is not full of goo when it gets cold.

Thanks.
I did not realize that those torches are so powerful.
The fuel I have is Diesel Fuel Winter Blend. Shouldn't this be good by itself?
i --

Standby Generator Starting in VERY cold weather

In article , Ignoramus607 wrote:

I was thinking about something like ebay item
http://cgi.ebay.com/Propane-Torch-Ice-Melter-Weed-Burner-Killer_W0QQitemZ75676 66114
I could carefully use it to warm air inside and heat the genset some. (by inserting it for a short period of time, not by continuous fire).
i


Hey Ignore, why bother with, all that heating of the encloser, heating the Oil, ether, ect. Your DJE has Manifold Air Heaters on the Intake Manifold, as well as Glowplugs on each cyl. If these are working, you really will not have a problem starting the engine, if your battery has any stiffness to it at all. The only thing it takes to make a diesel fire, is HOT AIR and FUEL. If you supply both IT WILL START. The Glowplugs, and Intake Manifold Heaters are really nothing more than a way to get HOT AIR into the cyl. If the Air is HOT, IT WILL FIRE, every time. The handheld torch will also make for HOT AIR down the Intake Manifold, as long as you REMOVE the Air Filter while using the torch. If you don't remove the Air Filter, your likely to start the filter on fire with the torch. Not really a good idea. Never use ether on a xDJx series engine, as you will likely crack a piston or start the Air Filter burning, should you get a flashback up the Intake valve. Again, not a really good thing to happen. These are really simple engines to operate if properly maintained. I used to have a pair of DJC's and never had any trouble getting them going even when it was -40F. At that temp 5W40 oil is manditory however, or your likely to have significant bearing wear on startup, unless you have a prelube cycle on your autostart system. Diesel engine cold Wx starting isn't Rocket Science, but it does require that one understands the basics of Diesel Engineering.
Bruce in alaska -- add a <2> before @

Standby Generator Starting in VERY cold weather

On Fri, 02 Dec 2005 01:32:22 GMT, Bruce in Alaska wrote:

In article , Ignoramus607 wrote:
I was thinking about something like ebay item
http://cgi.ebay.com/Propane-Torch-Ice-Melter-Weed-Burner-Killer_W0QQitemZ75676 66114
I could carefully use it to warm air inside and heat the genset some. (by inserting it for a short period of time, not by continuous fire).
i
Hey Ignore, why bother with, all that heating of the encloser, heating the Oil, ether, ect. Your DJE has Manifold Air Heaters on the Intake Manifold, as well as Glowplugs on each cyl. If these are working, you really will not have a problem starting the engine, if your battery has any stiffness to it at all. The only thing it takes to make a diesel fire, is HOT AIR and FUEL. If you supply both IT WILL START. The Glowplugs, and Intake Manifold Heaters are really nothing more than a way to get HOT AIR into the cyl. If the Air is HOT, IT WILL FIRE, every time. The handheld torch will also make for HOT AIR down the Intake Manifold, as long as you REMOVE the Air Filter while using the torch. If you don't remove the Air Filter, your likely to start the filter on fire with the torch. Not really a good idea. Never use ether on a xDJx series engine, as you will likely crack a piston or start the Air Filter burning, should you get a flashback up the Intake valve. Again, not a really good thing to happen. These are really simple engines to operate if properly maintained. I used to have a pair of DJC's and never had any trouble getting them going even when it was -40F. At that temp 5W40 oil is manditory however, or your likely to have significant bearing wear on startup, unless you have a prelube cycle on your autostart system. Diesel engine cold Wx starting isn't Rocket Science, but it does require that one understands the basics of Diesel Engineering.

I see. My glowplugs are working and I had no trouble starting my genset in moderately cold weather (about 5F). Seems like I am worrying about nothing!
Thanks Bruce...
i

Propane Flame Thrower

When I was a temp working in the railway, we used these large propane torches to de-ice the switch machines. Biggest problem was snow getting into the points and turning to ice. Worked pretty well. And if the wooden railway ties caught fire there was plenty of snow around to put it out.

Standby Generator Starting in VERY cold weather

"Ignoramus607" wrote in message

Let me start a little tangential thread. My generator can be started in merely cold weather by use of glow plugs. But suppose that weather becomes extremely cold, such as -20F (It happened here). In times of outages, starting a generator becomes extremely urgent due to quick cooling of the house.
Should I expect to be able to start my Onan DJE with just glow plugs?


One thing that will help with the cranking speed is to use synthetic oil in the crankcase. I use it on my generator and on all our vehicles that don't leak or burn oil and it's great. Cranks over in -15F temps just as well as it does when the temp is 80F.
-- Take care,
Mark & Mary Ann Weiss
VIDEO PRODUCTION FILM SCANNING DVD MASTERING AUDIO RESTORATION Hear my Kurzweil Creations at: http://www.dv-clips.com/theater.htm Business sites at: www.dv-clips.com www.mwcomms.com www.adventuresinanimemusic.com -


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