Control Boards and Your Generator

Control Boards and Your Generator

Posted by Generator Magic on 22nd Feb 2024

Control boards, also known as generator controllers or generator control panels, play a crucial role in operating and managing standby and portable generators. These parts are the brains of your generator, responsible for starting and stopping the unit, monitoring its performance, and protecting it from potential damage.

Not every generator control board is created equal. Let's explore the various types of control boards available for your generator and how to choose the right one for your specific needs.

What Is a Generator Control Board?

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The generator control board serves as your generator's central command and monitoring system. Its primary function is to manage and control various aspects of the generator's operation, ensuring its safe and efficient performance. These control boards are designed to work with both standby and portable generators and come in various forms with different features to suit specific needs.

Key functions of a generator control board include:

  • Power on and shut off
  • Display generator status
  • Communication to off-site monitoring and control
  • Power loading information
  • Safety features
  • Synchronization

More On Generator Control Boards and What They Do

Automatic standby control boards initiate the startup sequence of the generator when it detects a power outage or when manually triggered. It also safely shuts down the generator when utility power is restored or when it is no longer needed.

Control panels often include digital displays that provide real-time data on the generator's status, including voltage, frequency, engine speed, and operating hours. This information is critical for diagnosing issues and ensuring the generator functions within safe parameters.

Many advanced generator control boards offer remote monitoring capabilities, allowing users to access generator data and diagnostics remotely through a computer, smartphone, or other connected devices. This feature is precious for commercial and industrial applications where continuous monitoring is essential. In situations where immediate control is needed, the control board may also offer remote start and stop functions, allowing users to manage the generator from a distance.

Load Management for Generators

Generac 0H06430SRV 2008 Air Cooled Control PanelSome control boards, especially in standby generators, have load management features. Load management prioritizes which electrical circuits or appliances receive power to prevent overloading the generator during a power outage.Generator control boards also incorporate other safety features, such as circuit breakers and automatic shutdown mechanisms. These safeguards protect the generator and connected equipment from damage due to overloads, short circuits, or other issues.

When a problem arises, the control board often generates diagnostic codes or error messages, helping users and technicians identify issues and take appropriate actions for repair and maintenance. In cases where multiple generators are used in parallel to increase power output, the control boards manage synchronization and load distribution, ensuring that power is shared evenly among the units.

Generator control boards come in various levels of complexity, depending on the type and purpose of the generator. Standby generators typically have more advanced control boards with additional features, while portable generators may have simpler control panels focused on essential functions like starting and stopping.

Control Boards for Standby Generators

Standby generators are designed to provide backup power during utility outages. These generators are often installed as a permanent fixture in homes, businesses, and critical facilities. The control boards for standby generators are typically more advanced and offer a range of features to ensure seamless and reliable operation.

3 Main Types of Generator Control Boards for Standby Generators

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1. Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS) Control Boards: These control boards work in tandem with an ATS to automatically switch from utility power to generator power during an outage. They ensure a smooth transition and uninterrupted power supply.

2. Digital Control Panels:  Digital control panels are user-friendly and provide real-time data about the generator's performance. They often include features like remote monitoring and diagnostics.

3. Load Management Systems: For larger standby generators, load management systems allow you to prioritize which electrical circuits or appliances are powered during an outage. In this case, the control board manages load shedding to prevent generator overloading.

Control Boards for Portable Generators

Portable generators are a great option for anyone – they’re versatile and convenient for use in various settings, such as construction sites, outdoor events, or as a backup power source for your home. Their control boards are generally more basic but critical for safe and efficient operation. 

The three types of generator control boards for portable generators include:

  • Recoil and electric start panels
  • Circuit breaker control boards
  • Parallel operation control boards

Recoil and electric start panels include controls for starting and stopping the generator and monitoring essential functions like voltage and frequency, while circuit breaker control boards typically include circuit breakers to protect the generator and connected devices from overloading or short circuits. Finally, parallel operation control boards allow you to connect multiple generators in parallel to increase power output. These boards manage the synchronization and distribution of load.

How to Choose the Right Control Board for Your Generator

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Selecting the right control board for your generator is crucial for ensuring safe and efficient operation. Here are the top five things to consider when shopping for Generac generator parts like a control board:

1. Generator Type: Determine whether you have a standby or portable generator. The control board must be compatible with the generator type.

2. Included features: Before purchasing a generator control board, assess your specific needs. Do you require remote monitoring, load management, or parallel operation capabilities? Choose a control board that offers the features you need.

3. Brand Compatibility: Ensure that the generator control board is compatible with the brand and model of your generator. Mixing and matching Generac generator parts with other brands can lead to compatibility issues.

4. User-Friendliness: Consider the ease of use. If you're not a seasoned generator operator, a user-friendly digital control panel may be more suitable.

5. Affordability: Control boards and other Generac generator parts vary in cost, depending on their features and complexity. Set a budget and find a control board that meets your requirements without breaking the bank.

Control boards are a vital component of any generator, serving as the command center that keeps your power source running smoothly. At Generator Magic, we offer the Generac generator parts you need to keep your generator running when you need it most.

Whether you have a standby generator for uninterrupted home power or a portable generator for on-the-go electricity, the right control board and other Generac generator parts ensure your generator operates efficiently, safely, and reliably. Take the time to select the control board that best fits your needs, and you'll enjoy peace of mind during power outages or wherever your generator takes you.