Should I Fix or Replace my Generator?

Close up of internal components of a new backup generator.

Duthie Power Sales Engineer Pete Thornton, aka “Ask Pete,” held an educational session at our 2022 Customer Appreciation Day discussing the age-old question: should I fix or replace my generator? Fixing a generator may seem like the prudent choice when budgets are tight, but you run the risk of paying more in the long run to keep an aging generator running.

Below is a Q&A with Pete in which he breaks down key questions to consider before deciding to fix or replace your generator.

Question #1: Is the repair more expensive than a replacement generator?

This is the biggest determining factor in replacing a generator. Depending on the age of your generator, you might be looking at more than a “one item repair.” As Pete explains, “The first repair might be for one item, but as the equipment ages that could turn into a longer list of items to repair.”

For example, if the water pump is replaced, then the radiator, fuel injection pump and other large items are likely just as old as the water pump was. You have to ask yourself – how long before all those parts also need to be replaced? More importantly – how expensive will all those additional replacements be? This might be a good time to replace your generator.

Question #2: Is the generator so old that the parts to repair it are not available or they have a very long lead time to get?

The two extreme factors today are the availability of parts and the lead time for getting parts from manufacturers. Not to mention, as parts get older, prices increase and parts become harder to locate if they even exist anymore at all. Sales Engineer Garrett Talbott adds, “Look out for when you start adding lots of new parts to an old generator because the generator will only continue to age and the cost of parts will soon outpace the cost of replacing the entire generator.”

Another consideration is how manufacturers have OEM parts whose supply can fluctuate based on demand. Garrett Talbott explains, “As manufacturers debut new models in response to technological advances and energy regulations, supply shifts to match demand. This means manufacturers are more likely to keep parts on hand for the newer models than older units which can make procuring parts for older generators challenging.”

Generators are emergency equipment which can raise the stakes when it comes to repairs. You don’t want your emergency equipment to fail in an actual emergency due to lack of upkeep or investment in replacing old parts. Moreover, the cost of a rental generator to back up your emergency system can be very high.

If you do decide to order new equipment, the lead times are very long for replacement generators. This means you either need your current equipment to be functioning optimally or you need to order a replacement sooner than later. Either way, you will need to assess how much risk and additional cost you’re comfortable with as a result of delaying replacing old parts or the system as a whole.

Question #3: If you can find the part and fix the generator this time, what about the next time the generator fails?

It’s safe to assume all the parts on a generator are the same age as the generator. While you may be able to replace one broken part, it can devolve into a game of whack a mole with aging parts if you don’t assess the overall longevity of your emergency system. On top of that, parts for old generators are oftentimes discontinued.

As Pete suggests, “The best way to ensure your equipment will operate when you need it is to have regular maintenance performed and to ask our technicians for their expert assessment of the longevity of your system.”

Lead times are long and likely to stay that way for a while

One of the best ways to ensure you’re not stuck in a pickle deciding whether to replace a generator is to ensure you get regular maintenance. Knowing the lead time on new generators is very long, we always recommend approving quotes for new generators at the first sign your system may be failing. It is safest to get a replacement generator on order before the old generator fails beyond repair.

If you’re unsure about the best choice for your system, Duthie Power can help! Schedule a maintenance appointment today and be sure to ask our technicians for an assessment of your generator’s long-term ability to function.

At Duthie Power, we make scheduling your generator services easy. We have automatic reminders as well as an online scheduling option. We also keep copies of all your service reports to keep you in compliance. For assistance with any of your equipment maintenance needs, call us at (562)790-1772 or email service@duthiepower.com.

 

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