Baseline Technical Briefs

Intro to Generator Paralleling

When is paralleling generators necessary?

In most cases where the power requirement is great enough, it is recommended that multiple generators operate in parallel to meet the total power requirement of the equipment or facility requiring electricity.

What does it mean to parallel generators?

Now, the question is what exactly does it mean to ‘parallel’ generators? In simple terms, two or more generators are physically connected such that their output is perfectly synchronized, and this output is then connected to the main distribution panel to provide power to the customer. Paralleling generators increases the power supply while at the same time diminishing the risk of losing power in the event a single generator was to encounter failure.

Parallel Operation of Generators

Paralleling means synchronizing the generators so that their output voltage waveforms match.

Specifically, the synchronization must satisfy the following points:

  • Number of phases: For correct synchronizations, both generator systems must either be three-phase or single-phase.
  • System frequency: The frequency of generators being paralleled must be the same. The standard system frequency in the United States is 60 Hz. Some countries run on 50 Hz.
  • Voltage: All generator systems must have the same voltage.
  • Phase Angle: There must be no phase difference between the voltage waveforms of the generators being paralleled. This means that their waveforms must rise and fall in perfect harmony.
  • Phase Rotation: When paralleling three-phase generators, it is important to synchronize all three phases. If only one phase is paralleled there is imminent danger of unwanted surges and damage.

The actual physical parallel connection of generators requires a qualified electrical expert. In order to make sure our systems are properly set up, our technicians are equipped with the proper skills and safety equipment. Baseline also continuously invests in our fleet to ensure that we have the latest technology to make the task of paralleling safe, simple, and reliable. Communication between generators happens through ethernet cables and programmable controls that dynamically ensure synchronization and optimum load sharing.

The Advantages of Paralleling

Moving on from the technicalities, let’s take a look at the advantages of a system of generators operating in parallel.

Increased efficiency with optimum load sharing: The engines of generators are usually designed to run with highest efficiency at 75 to 80% of rated prime power. Practically, load does not stay constant and changes throughout the day. Any generator, be it a diesel generator or a gaseous generator, experiences a loss in efficiency when it is not running at optimum load, and diesel generators particularly are highly susceptible to wet stacking when operating at 30% or lower capacity. Baseline’s gaseous generator paralleling systems manage load variations very well, enabling generators to maintain operation at 75 to 80% of rated load capacity, maximizing fuel efficiency, reducing the cost and frequency of preventative maintenance, and autonomously responding to the power needs of customer equipment.

Redundancy and increased reliability: Parallel systems are designed to prioritize the redistribution of critical loads among other generators in the system if one of the generators fails. This increases the overall reliability of the system and ensures continuity of power.

Flexible system, no-shutdown maintenance: Power is not interrupted even during maintenance. With a parallel configuration of N+1 generator, one generator can be taken entirely offline for maintenance, while the rest of the generators temporarily increase their collective output to handle the load.

Scalable system: A system of parallel generators has the advantage of scalability. The power capacity can be gradually increased as your operations grow, and with Baseline’s power-as-a-service business model, there is zero capital investment required of our customers. When more power is needed, additional generators can easily be added to the existing parallel system. Such parallel systems accept a maximum of 32 generators in sync at once.

Lower cost: It is also said that generation costs increase with generator size and is significantly higher at ratings above 600KW. This is because there is a greater market for smaller generators and therefore, they are produced in a relatively large quantity, which means lower costs. Thus, using smaller generators is less expensive than using a single larger generator.

Closing Thoughts

Paralleling generators has never been easier than it is today. Baseline’s fleet of fully modernized natural gas generators is outfitted with the latest technology to meet and exceed all environmental regulations, deliver real-time generator performance remotely, and scale with your needs while providing twenty-four-seven electricity to your facilities and equipment without any capital expenditure.