Repair or Replace My Generator? A Look at End of Serviceable Life
Repair or Replace My Generator? A Look at End of Serviceable Life

How to know when it’s time to replace instead of repair. 


While many people are installing one for the first time, other customers have had a home standby generator at their home for a few years. And this means they have to make a decision --- when is it time to replace? In the industry lingo, we use the term “End of Serviceable Life” for your machine. Below we’ll look at what that means and try to help you make the decision if you just need some repairs, or it might be time to replace. 


How to Define End of Serviceable Life

Are you spending too much money on generator repairs? How do you know when it is better to replace your equipment versus repair?

The Three Criteria of End of Serviceable Life on Home Generators

End of Serviceable Life can be defined using three criteria:

  1. Due to age, the generator is no longer supported by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM).
  2. The cost to repair is more than 50% of the cost to replace the generator.
  3. The system is not compatible with modern building electrical systems and demands.


No Longer Supported by OEM

If your generator is no longer supported by the OEM, that means that parts are obsolete, any repairs will be expensive and lengthy. Both the major components and the supporting parts i.e. engine, controls and generator are obsolete. The age of the equipment will create continued failures with major components of the generator such as the cooling system, alternator, and engine. A combination of obsolete parts and continued failures deems the equipment at the “end of serviceable life. With old age and lack of support by the OEM, the cost to repair the generator will likely exceed 50% of the cost to replace the equipment. 


Still Covered, But Potentially Too Costly to Repair

There are also situations in which equipment is still new and supported by the OEM, but the cost of repair still exceeds 50% of the cost to replace it. In this case, we would carefully evaluate what makes sense based on the use of the generator, the length of the lifespan after repairs, and the budget for repairs or replacement.


Power Load Requirements Not Being Met

Up until the 1980’s, electrical demands on a building’s electrical system were primarily linear loads, free of harmonics (extra rigorous demands). But with today’s widespread use of computers and energy-efficient lighting (amongst other things), “reactive loads” have been introduced. Reactive Power in a distribution system is dissipated as heat. 

When your building or your home goes off grid during an outage, the generator must absorb these reactive loads. Generators built before the mid-90’s were not designed to dissipate modern reactive loads, resulting in engine overheating, voltage/frequency instability and failure. 

Changes in building electrical systems over the years have also created opportunities to support critical loads with smaller, more efficient generator systems.


Consult a Professional to Consider Your Options Fully 

Always remember --- there should always be discretion in reviewing each unit, even if it meets any of the above conditions. The call of whether or not you should replace your generator needs to be made by a professional who can give you an accurate appraisal of the situation.

At FM Generator, our mission is to provide reliability and expert solutions to our customers. That’s why we always strive to thoroughly educate our customers on the pros and cons of repairs versus replacement. 

We also communicate what the risks are of continuing to maintain an older unit as well as help create a budget for replacing equipment, incorporating these costs into capital improvement plans.


Want to learn more? Browse information about residential generators --- as well as commercial-grade units