February 2015 Newsletter


Generac Generators Available for BIM Software

Generac has created 3D commercial generator models specifically for Building Information Modeling (BIM) software programs. The models are available through Seek.Autodesk.com, Generac.com or GenSouth.

BIM is an intelligent model-based process that helps plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure. With building owners and the public asking for more thoughtful and “green” building design, BIM provides engineers and contractors with the tools needed to design intelligent buildings that conserve resources while meeting the ever-growing energy and ergonomic demands of building occupants.

Within BIM, each element has all of the characteristics – both physical and logical – of their real counterparts, based on a single definition of each item. When a change is made to one element, it permeates throughout all the drawings and related models.

This highlights a key difference between BIM and CAD. When a change is made in a CAD drawing, it must be remembered and manually transferred to all the other pertinent CAD drawings. This manual labor intensive labor intensive process is often fraught with human errors, requiring last minute changes. With BIM This process all happens automatically.

Use of BIM software has increased significantly due to the complexity and costs involved with today’s sophisticated design/build processes. Users can visualize, simulate and analyze real-world appearance performance and cost.

Additionally, a virtual information model can be handed from the design team (architects, civil, structural and building services engineers, etc.) to the main contractor and subcontractors and then on to the owner/operator. This reduces the potential for information losses that may occur when a new team takes ownership of the project, and provides more extensive information to owners of complex structures for facility management.

Autodesk® Revit® is the leading 3D BIM application on the market and it includes features for architectural design; mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP); structural engineering, and construction.

One of the disadvantages to using software like Autodesk Revit is the effort required at the front end of a project to load all the appropriate information for each element along with obtaining all the 3D models for each element. There are tools, however, that are making this process simpler, such as databases and storehouses for specific equipment needs. For example, Autodesk Revit links directly to a building product repository called SEEK, that hosts manufacturer-specific content. With Generac models available on seek.autodesk.com, Revit users can access gensets with just a few clicks.

In addition, the Generac 3D models have undergone quality assurance testing and are vetted to meet the requirements of the Revit program. And, as new gensets and accessories are introduced to the marketplace, the corresponding models will be added for Revit and other BIM software programs.

Requirements of Critical Operations Power Systems (COPS) –
Part 2

This article is a continuation of the article from the previous issue of Generac’s PowerConnect regarding the requirements of Critical Operations and Power Systems (COPS).

Fuel is a major concern when evaluating a facility’s ability to defend in place. Through the grid failure of 2003, the Florida hurricanes and the flooding in New Orleans, it has become apparent that during significant events the generator’s ability to be refueled is significantly impacted. In certain situations, owners can’t just call for another tank of fuel or expect it to be available upon demand. It may be days or even weeks before a diesel fuel truck can reach your destination. NEC 708.22(C) requires COPS to have a minimum operating time of 72 hours with the DCOA at full load. In addition to this requirement, NEC 708.20(F)(1) mandates that fuel for the generator may not be solely supplied by the public gas utility.

On first evaluation, many system designers will approach these fuel requirements by configuring the system with a diesel generator and utilizing main storage tanks to assure a minimum of 72 hours of run time. Is this the best approach? Will this mitigate the failure risks as required by NEC 708.4(C)?  Is this enough fuel or is this too much fuel? There are a number of competing issues that are in conflict. Too little fuel and the generator will run out prior to refueling; too much fuel and the fuel goes bad.

The NEC does not directly reference any other NFPA standard but it does use fine print notes (FPN) to reference key related codes. NFPA 110 is a repeated FPN reference within Article 708 and will probably be adopted by statute for COPS. NFPA 110 has numerous requirements related to fuel: the system design shall provide for a supply of clean fuel (; the fuel must be consumed in its storage life or provisions shall be made to replace stale fuel with clean fuel (; an annual fuel quality test is required (8.3.8); sulfur, naturally occurring gums, waxes, soluble metallic soaps, water, dirt and temperature all begin to degrade fuel as it is handled and stored (A.

To understand why NFPA 110 makes so many references to fuel condition, understand that the typical standby generator doesn’t run much. If the tank is sized for 72 hours of full load operation, it could easily take 22 years to get one fuel turn on the tank (assumes 60% typical load level, weekly no load exercising and an average of 4 hours of outage per year). So what is the storage life of diesel fuel? Exxon’s web site responds to this question: “If you keep it clean, cool and dry, diesel fuel can be stored 6 months to 1 year without significant quality degradation. Storage for longer periods can be accomplished through the use of periodic filtrations and addition of fuel stabilizers and biocides.”

So where does this lead us? At a minimum, the fuel tank will need an aggressive maintenance program that may require the fuel to be replaced.  However, if the generator shares fuel with other diesel devices (boilers, etc.); the fuel will be turned more often.
Another option may be to use the generator to support a significant optional standby load with a modest runtime requirement. The optional standby load could be shed after a minimum run period under normal outage situations or immediately shed during a significant event. This would maximize the fuel available during more significant outages.

For areas with sufficient and reliable natural gas infrastructures, innovations in the standby generator market also make bi-fuel (diesel and natural gas) configurations a very good fit for this application. Bi-fuel units typically run with 75% of the engine’s power coming from natural gas, thus extending the duration of the engine’s on-site diesel fuel by a factor of four.  This technology also has the ability to operate on 100% diesel, meeting Article 708’s requirement for not being solely supplied by the public gas utility.

Finally, for smaller applications dual fuel (LP and natural gas) may present another highly reliable option.

Generator location is also a consideration when designing high reliability systems.  Article 708 requires that the generator meet physical security and restricted access requirements. The generator location must also provide protection from natural and human-caused events.
These requirements may lead some system designers to initially show a preference for locating the generator indoors. Though indoor locations have some advantages, they also have some often overlooked disadvantages. Indoor locations:

  • have increased supporting system requirements: airflow, exhaust, thermal considerations, and fuel transfer.
  • present greater challenges in controlling fire risks. The building is a fire risk to the generator and the generator is a fire risk to the building.

When paralleled generators are utilized, outdoor generators provide inherent fire isolation between units. Outdoor units, located in separate locked enclosures, also tend to be impacted less from inadvertent human interactions – breakers left open, fuel lines closed, controls not in automatic, control parameters over adjustment, etc.

One potential solution that combines some of the benefits of indoor and outdoor configurations is outdoor units located inside a secure, walled-in area.

Article 708 takes a holistic approach to critical power system reliability and, as such, challenges system designers to consider all risks that can impact system operation. This is a significant departure from the traditional NEC regimented rule based approach. Reasonable people will choose to disagree on relative risk levels and thus system design preferences.  Whatever the form of the final design, system reliability will be improved simply by challenging ourselves to work through these tough questions.

If you have questions about the NEC Article 708 or any code issues, contact us.

Future-Forward Improvements to Generac’s Eagle/Oshkosh Facilities

Generac recognizes that electrical engineers and contractors are always being asked to deliver more… more power, more efficiency, more reliability and as always, more cost savings. To better serve you, as well as fulfill their mission to provide a quality product and ownership experience at an excellent value, Generac has invested significant resources to improve the Eagle and Oshkosh manufacturing facilities.

“The Eagle facility is being reconfigured and will employ state-of-the-art visual manufacturing capabilities,” said Brian Michael, Vice President of Operations – Commercial/Industrial, Generac. “We will continue to invest in the Oshkosh facility to ensure the future needs of our customers who require higher kW generators are met.”

Eagle Facility
Earlier this year, Generac tested the visual factory concept on a single line at its Whitewater factory. A visual factory is one of the key concepts in lean manufacturing. It refers to a workplace that uses a system of cues and communication tools that impart information visually at the time and place it is needed. The results inspired Generac to implement this concept throughout other areas of the business, with the Eagle plant being the next area of focus.

“Having a visual workplace improves flow of products, materials, and information, resulting in increased productivity, safety, quality and on-time delivery,” said Tim Hearden, Generac’s Senior Vice President of Global Operations.

Examples of these visual enhancements include new conveyor systems and touchscreen computers that provide advanced shop floor controls.

“The touchscreens are used at each workstation along the conveyor and they make any problems, abnormalities, or deviation from our standards visible, so corrective action can be taken before larger problems arise,” Hearden said. “These enhancements improve our quality throughout every step of the manufacturing process and will increase the confidence that our customer have in Generac.”

The touchscreens not only improve quality, but facilitate and accelerate training which allows Generac team members to meet production deadlines more efficiently and effectively, as more team members have the knowledge to work at any station on the line.

The remodeling process at the Eagle facility is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2015.

Oshkosh Facility
Generac’s Oshkosh facility was inherited during the acquisition of Baldor in November 2013. Capitalizing on the strengths of the existing equipment and staff, Generac upgraded the facility with its modular and vertically integrated production process to boost capacity for all the 175 kW and larger gensets, including the recently re-launched 750 kW to 2 MW generators.

“These improvements allow us to increase capacity for the re-launched generators and support new products that will be introduced in the future,” Michael said.

Generac uses Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to ensure the upgrades at Oshkosh and Eagle will not affect current production.

“The bottomline is that our commercial and industrial customers will receive world-class generators more quickly and efficiently, with quality enhancements at every step of the process,” Michael said. “Customers that have visited Generac’s facilities in the past will be amazed at the future-forward changes we are making.”

To showcase these improvements, a tour of the Oshkosh facility will be one of the highlights of Engineering Symposium, scheduled for May 3-6, 2015. Symposium registration information will be available soon.

 Lassus Case Study Video Highlights the Community Benefits

Lassus Handy Dandy, a family-owned convenience store chain based in Fort Wayne, Ind., operates stores throughout Indiana and Ohio. For more than 85 years, Lassus has been run with a sense of responsibility as they provide fuel to municipal vehicles including fire, police and emergency medical services (EMS).

This video highlights the impact of a recent ice storm, and why a backup generator was installed by two Generac distributors. You may find the Lassus video useful in explaining the benefits of backup power to small and mid-size business owners.

To summarize: a major ice storm struck Fort Wayne and the power was out for many days. As a result, two Lassus locations lost perishable food stored in freezers and refrigeration units. “While the monetary loss was significant; the owner of Lassus Handy Dandy indicated that he was more concerned that the company was not able to provide fuel for emergency vehicles or basic supplies to community members,” said Dave Dazey, Principal, EVAPAR, an Authorized Generac Industrial Distributor based in Indiana.

Lassus initially contacted a residential generator dealer to find a solution. However, the application migrated to an industrial generator configuration, leading to EVAPAR’s involvement.

“The owner did not want to rely on the delivery of diesel fuel during a major storm, so we selected an SG100 natural gas generator to keep the operation running smoothly,” said Dazey.  The generator features a 9.0L engine, brushless alternator, H Panel control, and standard enclosure. It is coupled to the facility with a 3-pole, 800A service entrance rated, Power Series Transfer Switch.

The unit was installed in June, and now the Lassus stores are ready to assist the community during what will certainly be a difficult winter.

VENYU Commercial Data Center Achieves Reliability, Saves Costs

VENYU is a premier provider of cloud, data center and data protection services. Its industry-leading solutions include cloud hosting, online data backup, virtualized disaster recovery, managed hosting, and co-location. When designing a new data center in Baton Rouge, La., facility managers wanted to include a standby power generator that allowed them to meet the stringent uptime requirements of customers. Generac provided a Modular Power System (MPS) with four, one megawatt Gemini generators that did not require a traditional switchgear control scheme. This solution offered improved paralleling performance and significant savings, while providing the mission-critical facility with reliable backup power.

To learn more about the MPS system and how it helped VENYU become more reliable, click here: Youtube.

Power Design Pro™: Load Sequencing (Groups vs. Steps)

There is often a misunderstanding by users that all loads, or large groupings of loads within a building or application, start at the same time (concurrent starting). This typically does not happen in practice, for example:

  • motors have control circuits which must be re-sequenced,
  • cooling compressors must bleed off head pressures,
  • computers must be restarted,
  • UPS’s wait for voltage stability before coming back on-line, etc.

Typically, when a generator transfer switch closes into an application, there is an initial minimum load step followed by the loads in the application naturally sequencing back on. If an application has two significant loads that inadvertently start concurrently, it is often easier and more cost-effective to add a delay or interlock with a control relay, than to size the generator for the concurrent starting of two significant motor loads.

Limitations of Competitive Sizing Programs
Most generator sizing programs have a contrived method of entering loads into factiously structured load steps. This method assumes that all the loads are running and that they start concurrently. Both are generally false assumptions in the real world. Loads cycle on and off constantly, and rarely start concurrently.  As a result, when using typical sizing programs, you are forced to separate the loads into an arbitrary load sequence to avoid the oversized generator that will result from the concurrent starting assumption.

Power Design Pro™ supports both traditional concurrent starting (step #1, step #2… step #20) and the flexibility to enter loads into load steps that assume non-concurrent starting (group #1 to group #4).

Power Design Pro™ (Steps vs. Groups)
When loads are entered into a non-concurrent starting sequence (group #1, group #2…), natural sequencing is assumed. Each load in this load grouping will start at a different time. In Power Design Pro™, the sequences’ starting kW (skW) is the largest skW in the sequence. The sequences’ starting KVA (skVA) is the largest skVA value in the sequence.

When loads are entered into a traditional, concurrent starting sequence (step #1, step #2…), simultaneous starting is assumed. The sequences’ skW is the sum of all skW values in the sequence. The sequences’ skVA is the sum of all the skVA values in the sequence.

Cyclic Sequences
Both groups and steps assume a load factor of 100% (meaning all the loads are always on) with the exception of the cyclic sequences. These sequences (cyclic #1 and cyclic #2) assume that the largest load in the sequence is on and applies the user selected load factor (set on the project page) to the remainder of the loads in the sequence.  This allows the users to enter all the loads into the program but not have them all running.

By assuming that the largest load is always on ensures that the generator has enough capacity to support the starting and running of the largest load in the load sequence. This load sequence assumes non-concurrent starting just like the group sequences.

Power Design Pro™ is a powerful program with many load management features assuring you obtain a properly-sized generator versus an oversized generator. Understanding how to best use these features ensures that you are getting the maximum benefits that the program can offer.

Click here more information on Power Design Pro™.