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10 Reasons for Generator Surges [& Solutions to them]


How does generator surge look like? When you’re on backup power, have you observed lights flashing or variable machine speeds (sudden shifts between rapid and slow)? Surging is the term for this phenomenon. Surges in power created by your generator are never natural and are a warning that something is wrong with your generator.

Now, let’s go over the most likely causes your generator may be surging, as well as some suggestions for how to deal with it.

#1. Your generator is getting older

Parts of generators wear out over time owing to regular wear and tear, making them susceptible to surging.
Consider replacing your generator with a newer one if you start to see surges and your generator is reaching (or past) its estimated service life.

#2. Problems with Fuel

Fuel-related surges are typically produced by one out of three factors:

  1. Improper fuel
  2. Low fuel amounts
  3. Poor fuel quality

Most generators have certain fuel needs, and utilizing the fuel that isn’t within those constraints can result in operating problems, including surges. Follow manufacturer’s fuel recommendations.

Gasoline blockages are another, less common way that fuel can cause generator surge. Check the fuel filters to ensure nothing is obstructing the fuel filter or fuel lines.

Surges could also be caused by faulty gasoline pumps. Making sure your fuel pump is in good working order is a crucial step in determining the source of surges.

Also, check for any fuel line leaks or an obstruction that could be causing a reduction in fuel flow.

#3. Inadequate Maintenance

Generators, like any other type of equipment, require routine maintenance to keep them in top working order. Neglecting your maintenance schedules can result in not just increased deterioration, but also other more serious issues, such as your generator becoming more susceptible to surges.

#5. Components that have been damaged

In your quest for the source of surging, damaged components inside your generator could well be the problem. Damaged capacitors are one example of a simple component that might prohibit your generator from correctly generating and distributing electricity (resulting in erratic oscillations in power supply and distribution regulation).

#6. Sudden machinery start-ups

Starting huge machinery on backup power can result in a massive surge in load. This could push your generator’s power output capacities to the limit, causing it to struggle to keep up with demand.

This can sometimes result in a brief loss of power to other devices, after which everything balances out and you don’t notice much difference in power quality. Other times, the increased load is too high for your generator to handle, resulting in power spikes or even the entire shutdown of the generator owing to overload.

#7. Load that is not balanced

Depending on what you’re trying to connect to backup power, the load can rise and drop quickly. It’s critical to double-check that the load is distributed evenly across all three phases.

This is also a good moment to make sure you aren’t overloading your generator, either constantly or with short bursts of load (caused by equipment startup). Because of their high electrical demand at the beginning, motors are frequently the main culprit in imbalanced load conditions.

#8. Motors that are erratic

In the hunt for the source of surging, the most common culprit is motors that drive machines with changing power needs. Particularly if the motors are outdated and lack a governor.

This can result in significant increases and drops in power consumption, resulting in irregular power surges that can destroy all other electrical equipment provided by the same backup power source.

#9. AVR failure (non-functioning or intermittent)

An Automatic Voltage Regulator (AVR) is a type of voltage regulator and that mounts on your alternator and checks your generator’s power output. Its purpose is to keep the equipment load at a constant voltage and in “utility-like” settings.

This is done under a variety of circumstances, notably when the load on the generator varies greatly. The AVR helps to balance out the generator’s consistent power output.

Due to a lack of power control, a malfunction with the AVR might generate power surges in your generator.


Power surges while running on backup generators are never typical. At all times, your generator should really be able to provide “utility-like” power quality.

If you’re experiencing surging and haven’t been able to find a solution on your own, it’s time to seek the assistance of an experienced generator expert.

Click on the white button above to find your electrician!

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