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Do you have to break in a generator?

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If you have a new generator, you may be wondering if you need to break it in before using it.

In this post we’ll cover what you need to know about breaking in a generator, this can be applied to most generators to make sure they are successfully broken in, the generator properly runs and is safe for use.

This include making sure your portable generator is supplied with the right engine oil and fuel so you properly lubricate your generator and ensure it’s ready for use.

How do you start using a brand new generator?

You should always read the user’s manual from the generator’s manufacturer before starting to properly break in a generator engine.

It’s really not that difficult once you know what to do and you don’t need to be an expert in generator engines.

Make sure you have the right supplies for the job

First, make sure you have all the tools and necessary supplies, including fuel to make your generator run. The user’s manual should tell you how much fuel is needed.

Depending on the model, your generator may require highest octane petrol, fuel stabilizer, engine oil, oil conditioner, and/or spark plugs.

Failing to use the correct type of fuel can damage the engine and void the warranty. It can also cause low pressure and stop your generator from being able to handle any load whatsoever.

It is important to ensure that the fuel tank is filled to the proper level before starting the generator. Especially with diesel engines, as if you run out of fuel the engine will need priming to remove any air or it will not start.

Check your fluid levels regularly

Most diesel generators will come with oil in the sump…but you should check this before giving it the first run. There will be a dipstick on the side of the generator engine that you can remove and check if the level is between the high and low lines. Never run your engine with low oil. This will cause serious harm and engine failure in a very short time.

Most generator will have a fuel level indication gauge on the tank. Some generators may not have a mechanical display/gauge and will have an electronic fuel level sensor that displays on the controller instead. You should be able to cycle through the controller screens to find the fuel level.

Coolant level is also essential to check. Small engines may be air cooled so this may not apply, but all water cooled engines will have trouble with overheating if the coolant is low.

To check the coolant level on diesel generators, you can remove the radiator cap (do not do this when hot) and put your finger inside….if your finger gets wet you will have enough. The key is that the level is higher than the hose entry to the radiator tank.

Start running your generator offload first

To break in a generator, start by running it at low speed for a few minutes.

After it has ran for a few minutes, stop the engine and allow to cool before checking fluid levels.

Sometimes the oil level will drop as the oil filter fills with oil, you may need to top the oil up. Coolant level can also drop because the engine thermostat will open and allow coolant to circulate.

The above issues are unlikely as the generator should have been tested prior to being supplied to you, but these things do happen and catch people out.

Getting in to good habits and looking after your generator

It is crucial to keep on top of the basics such as these fluid level check above. Other things to check regularly are:

  1. Check your battery – Generator batteries should be kept charged by either a ‘trickle’ charger or by running the set regularly to keep it topped up. Batteries should be changed every 4-5 years max.
  2. Check for leaks – Fuel, oil and coolant leaks can be a sign of trouble. If you spot any leaks please feel free to get in touch and we will be happy to advise.
  3. Check that the outgoing breaker is in the closed position for automatic standby generators – if the breaker is open, the generator will run but no power will be supplied to your building or equipment.
  4. Check your controller – There could be alarms on the generator or it could be not in auto. the controller must be in auto for the generator to start automatically!

As a result, basic care of your generator is essential for ensuring its longevity and performance. To keep up with your generator health, at Solent Power we provide generator servicing and maintenance.


Generators are a convenient way to have mobile power supplies or backup power in case of an emergency, but they also require some preventative maintenance.

Remember to regularly check your oil levels and keep the oil topped up so your generator stays in good condition. Make sure to follow the instructions in your owner’s manual when using your generator. And don’t forget to always use the proper type of oil!

If you have any questions about how to break in a generator contact Solent Power, we’ll be happy to help.

Paul Phelps Solar Power Owner
Paul Phelps
Paul is the MD of Solent Power and specialises in emergency power solutions, helping to protect your facilities from power loss. Get in touch with us today to discuss the different power brands that we can offer and how they can suit your needs.
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