Generators produce an enormous amount of heat when they operate. So they require a built-in cooling system to protect the engine from damage and assure your safety.
Without a cooling system, the generator breaks down and, worse, can start a fire.
When you use the generator to heat your home or run your appliances, the built-in cooling system ensures your generator operates correctly.
But not all cooling systems are built the same. Some generators are air cooled, while others are liquid cooled.
The differences between air-cooled and liquid-cooled generators
The primary difference is obvious: Air-cooled generators use air to cool the engine, while liquid-cooled generators use liquid. But that’s not the only difference.
First, let’s look more closely at how each type of generator is cooled.
- Air-cooled generators: This type uses air circulation to bring down the engine’s temperature. It takes cool air from outside and blows it internally across different parts of the engine. This method is used in nearly all portable generators and standby generators up to about 22 kilowatts. Most home generators use this cooling method.
- Liquid-cooled generators: This type uses a liquid (oil or coolant) to cool the engine. A radiator or pump distributes the liquid through hoses to the engine block to transfer heat from the engine to the liquid. The liquid then flows to the radiator where it’s cooled by outside air. Most generators over 22 kilowatts use this method, and it’s more common in commercial-use generators.
In addition to the cooling method, another major difference between air-cooled and liquid-cooled generators is the price. Air-cooled generators are significantly cheaper.
An average air-cooled standby generator will cost you about $8,000 to $10,000 to install in your home, while the average liquid-cooled generator cost will double that to from $17,000 to $20,000.
Which type is better?
The answer depends on your needs.
“I don’t think one’s better than the other,” says Tobias Sommer, president of Home Generators for Sale. “I service more than 600 generators and I have just as many problems with the liquid-cooled as I do with air-cooled.”
If you want a home back-up generator, you’re usually better off with an air-cooled generator. Air-cooled generators can handle most home needs at a much lower price.
The main factor to consider is whether the generator is “mission critical.” For example, in a retirement community or hospital, the liquid-cooled generator is what you need. They last longer and have more horsepower.
“Air-cooled units on average gets 1,500 to 3,000 hours, while a liquid-cooled gets 7,000 to 10,000 hours just because it has a bigger engine,” Tobias says.
If you’re not powering a commercial building or something close to it, you’re better off saving money with an air-cooled generator.
If you have any questions about which generator is right for you, contact Home Generators for Sale today at (402) 298-5355. Talk to one of our experts about your generator needs.