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Diesel Generator FAQs

by Nick Coulson

Should I buy an air-cooled or water-cooled diesel generator?

If you are looking for a portable energy source, then an air-cooled diesel generator would be a good choice. However, it is important to note that air-cooled generators should not be run for extended time periods. If you're looking for longevity, a water-cooled diesel generator would be the better option.

How does running a generator at 1500RPM compare to running it at 3000RPM?

Higher RPM will lead your generator to wear out faster. Typically, air-cooled generators run at 3000RPM, while water-cooled generators run at 1500RPM.

How do I choose the right size of generator?

This question does not have a quick answer. It depends on a wide variety of factors, including how frequently you will use the generator, how long you intend to run it at a time, and how much power you'll need, among other considerations.

What is "power factor"?

Measured as a value from 0 to 1, power factor refers to the ratio between real and apparent power supplied to a circuit. It denotes how much energy you lose to electromagnetic fields.

What are "kVA" and "kW"?

kVA signifies kilovolt amps. It measures apparent power, showing the total output of the generator after loss to electromagnetic fields. kW measures kilowatts and tells you the true output of the generator. You can determine the kW rating by multiplying the power factor by kVA.

What is the difference between a circuit breaker and an RCD?

A circuit breaker trips when the current rises over a set value. An RCD compares active and neutral currents and trips if there is an imbalance.

What is the MEN link?

MEN stands for 'multiple earthed neutral', meaning that the combined earth-and-neutral conductor is connected to real earth in multiple locations. This can help to reduce your risk of electric shock in the event of damage to the combined earth-to-neutral conductor.

What does ATS mean?

The ATS, or automatic transfer switch, senses the main power and power quality. The ATS signals the generator to power on if the main power fails or falls below a set value. The ATS can also start the generator if one or more phases are lost in a three-phase system. When the power comes back on, the ATS signals to the generator to shut down.

Do I need a one-phase or three-phase generator?

If you have one-phase power, stick with a one-phase generator. Problems can arise if one phase of a three-phase generator is heavily loaded. Use a three-phase generator for three-phase systems only.

Can a 6kVA generator power a 6kW electric motor?

No, it cannot, because electric motors need additional current to get the motor started from a standstill. This is called inrush current and may require 4-10 times the power than the rated current.

What is a fail-safe solenoid?

A fail-safe solenoid turns the fuel supply to the generator's engine off, if the battery power to the engine falls below a pre-set safety level. This means the generator will still safely shutdown, even after all power is lost.

Why do water-cooled diesel generators run at 1500RPM?

The alternator must rotate at a fixed speed to provide a stable frequency. In order to provide 50Hz, a 4-pole alternator must rotate constantly at 1500RPM. This number varies, depending on the number of poles. Here is a poles vs. frequency chart to help you out:


Number of Poles

50Hz RPM

60Hz RPM
































Does Able Sales sell spare generator parts?

Yes, we do carry spare parts for our generators. This includes spare engines and spare alternators.

Can Able Sales generators be used for my solar system?

Yes, in fact, many of our generators are used in solar systems as more and more people are choosing to go off the grid and require backup power.

Can generators be operated and checked remotely?

Yes, any of our water-cooled generators can be equipped with a GSM-based remote control system.

Can Able Sales convert generators?

Yes, we can convert most of our generators between 50 and 60Hz.




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