Generators typically have engine mounted radiators and fans for heat transfer and cooling. This system works well for the vast majority of backup/standby power applications.
However, in cities and other areas where real estate can be pricey and space is at a premium, generators may need to be located inside a building – sometimes in the basement. Indoor installations, however, present an additional challenge of providing adequate cooling air for the engine and aftercooler into the building – sometimes up to 50,000 or 100,000 cfm. In these cases, installing a remote cooling system may be a necessary design.
“Be advised that installing a remote radiator, along with the associated pumps and valves, can increase the cost and complexity of the project substantially,” said John Sharpe, Power Solutions Manager, Generac. “As a result, remote radiators are typically used for generator applications from 500kW and above.”
There are several key factors to consider when designing a remote cooling system:
• Complexity – A two loop system for cooled air and cooled water can add 6 valves, a circuit setter, circulating pump(s), air heat exchanger(s) and a motor on the radiator. This introduces ten or more new potential points of failure into the system. (See diagram.) Quality components and regular maintenance are necessary to keep the system operating smoothly.
• Water Pressure – Sufficient pump pressure is needed to move the cooling water from the engine up to the radiator. At the same time, it’s critical the system does not build up excessive water pressure in the engine. Therefore, a heat exchanger may be needed to protect the engine, as well as the circulating pump must be sized correctly to ensure adequate flow and pressure.
• Air Temperature – The air temperature in the engine must be managed properly to meet the manufacturer’s recommended levels. Proper temperature without adding additional restriction to the turbo/compressor is crucial to ensuring EPA emissions compliance.
• Generator Room Ventilation – While the remote cooling system handles most of the work, this area still needs adequate ventilation to manage the radiated heat from the engine and the alternator, as well as provide combustion air.
• Adequate Barriers – Any exterior components must be protected from rain and the elements. A noise barrier may also be needed, depending on the location of the radiator, as the radiator fan can be loud.
The decision about whether a remote radiator system is needed generally comes early in the process. The design engineer, architect and customer determine whether backup power is required and where the generator(s) can be located. At this point, it’s a good idea to have the generator manufacturer involved in the process. “Our technicians and engineers have installed remote radiator systems in a variety of applications, and can offer advice and guidance on the best approaches,” Sharpe noted.
The use of remote radiators is still relatively rare. However, with increased demands for standby power, engineers and contractors will likely see more remote installations in the future.
For more information about remote radiator installations, please contact your local Generac Industrial Power Network distributor/dealer, call 1-844-ASK-GNRC, or email ASKGNRC@generac.com.