Industrial Engines Blog

What Are The Biggest Mistakes To Make When Buying A Used Generator?

Qiana Smith

March 8, 2024

Buying A Used Generator: What Are The Biggest Mistakes to make?

Many of us will choose to purchase things second hand as this will often work out far cheaper when compared with purchasing an item brand new…this choice will usually not produce any more issues than would be seen when outright purchasing an item in an untouched condition.

But…can we say the same when purchasing a used generator?

Unfortunately, the choice to buy a generator second hand could leave you in a spot of bother if sufficient due diligence isn’t taken before the purchase.

Fortunately, you have come to the right place as we have compiled a list of commonly made mistakes which typically occur when purchasing a used generator!

Remember – recite these mistakes over and over again so you do not become the next victim to fall for these issues when buying a used generator!

Making Your Decisions Based On The Price Tag

When we decide to purchase second hand, we are often doing this to save some money, but there is often a reason it is much cheaper than RRP.

Whilst we may sometimes get lucky with bargain hunting and find a great deal which is a fraction of the cost but still in perfectly working condition, these are often few and far between.

If you are choosing to purchase second hand, don’t automatically go for the cheapest generator you can find without doing your research or asking in-depth questions.

When buying a used generator, if the price is substantially lower than similar models on the market, question the price tag!

There may be a reason, which has not been disclosed, as to why the price is dramatically lower. Instead, if you are going to purchase second hand, compare a number of generators and try to avoid making any decisions based solely on the price tag!

Choosing A Generator Which Has Not Been Correctly Tested

Buying a used generator without running the correct tests on it could be a costly mistake to make (not to mention the detrimental effect this could have on your business).

Before purchasing your generator, you should perform a test on full load to ensure that no problems arise which can affect its performance once you begin using it regularly.

If the generator you are purchasing is of an industrial standard, you need to ensure that this has been loaded with half of the rated load in one single step.

This will indicate whether it will cope with the high impact you will require in manufacturing and other industrial settings.

This test helps you avoid buying a used generator which wouldn’t be able to meet your demands.

The test you want to run is often completed from a mobile bank unit which is essentially a large kettle.

It will match the power which is being produced by the generator and will make sure that there is no deterioration during operations as this can lead to power shortages and eventually the generator shutting down.

During a load test, a prospective generator will be pushed to its maximum capacity meaning it should reach critical pressures and temperatures.

Whilst we recommend you run this test prior to buying a used generator, this is particularly beneficial for ones which have not run for a period of time or ones which only function primarily on standby!

Another test which can be performed is known as ‘no-load testing’ and this looks for signs of ‘wet stacking’.

Wet stacking is where unused diesel fuel, moisture, and carbon particles gather in the exhaust of your generator and is usually a by-product of fuel not being correctly burnt off. This will create a dark liquid which coagulates in the exhaust sacks.

During the no-loading test, the generator will be thoroughly examined to check for signs of this.

Unfortunately, if the test results for this come back positive, the lifespan of the generator will be considerably shorter and require much more maintenance than a new model. On the bright side you would be able to avoid a wasteful purchase.

Not Reading The Small Print

Many people often skim over the small print when purchasing almost anything…how many of us can admit that we have ticked the terms and conditions box without really reading any of it?

We often see it as unnecessary text and something which does not concern us.

Whilst we may see the T&C’s as useless information, there are often very key pieces of information in there which you should most certainly know about!

Some of this key bit of information can include warranty and return policies, which you need to know about!

If you are purchasing brand new from a manufacturer, you are much more likely to receive a warranty period for the generator you have purchased. Certain dealerships will also offer a period for used ones also.

The time frame may be shorter as opposed to a new one but there will still be a warranty in place. Keep in mind that if you are purchasing second hand privately, there is a much greater risk that you will not be given any warranty or cover!

Without warranty or cover, you have no fallback if anything was to go wrong once your money has been handed over.

A good example of distributor confidence can be found with our reconditioned engines which all carry 6-months ex-works warranty.

If you are provided with terms and conditions to sign, READ THEM THOROUGHLY, as you may miss something which you need to know!

Buying A Used Generator

Ignoring The Clock

Many generators have a clock which is similar to our cars and their mileage readers. This is known as an odometer reading which tells you how many hours it has been on.

By not paying attention to the clock prior to buying a used generator, you could be getting yourself into a rather deep hole.

You don’t want to be purchasing a generator which has accumulated a staggering number of working hours as there is a higher chance of faults and malfunctions.

Not only do you want to pay particular attention to the overall hours, but it is worth enquiring what type of work was included in these hours.

There would be a noticeable difference in part wear and tear if many of the hours clocked were from the generator being on standby as opposed to operating as an ongoing power source.

A generator which has primarily been used as a backup power source or as standby tends to be in far better condition as opposed to one which has been a prime power source.

Incorrectly Installing Your Generator

Unfortunately, purchasing a generator second hand will typically be a private sale which means that you will more than likely have to fit the generator yourself or hire a professional to do it for you.

Whilst they might be a professional electrician or engineer, they may not be suitably equipped or have the training and knowledge about different generators!

Whereas, if you are purchasing from a reputable dealership, the chances are you are more likely to have the option of them installing it for you. This means that everything will be done correctly and there are no risks of malfunctions or faults!

Should I Purchase A Generator Second-Hand?

Whilst we understand that purchasing a generator second-hand can appear much cheaper and sound like the better deal, there are far many more factors to consider – far more than buying a new one!

If you are still firmly set on purchasing a generator second hand, DON’T MAKE THESE MISTAKES!

By avoiding these costly errors, you should still receive a safe and working generator for personal or commercial use. Remember…if it looks too good to be true then it more than likely is!


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