bison logo

causes of generator power surges: how to fix them?

China BISON will delve into the intricacies of generator surges to provide you with the knowledge you need to protect your valuable investment.

Table of Contents

Power surges are often overlooked but can cause significant damage, wreaking havoc on generators and the equipment they power. Generator overheating, malfunctioning, and possibly even failure are just the tip of the iceberg. These power surges can put homes at risk of fire, damage expensive appliances and equipment, or even start a fire.

Today, China BISON will delve into the intricacies of generator surges to provide you with the knowledge you need to protect your valuable investment. Explore what is a generator surge and what are the various reasons behind these dreaded generator surges. Respond to generator surges and protect your generator from damage caused by surges.

causes of generator surges how to fix them

what is a power surge?

What is generator surging? If you rely on backup power, have you ever noticed flickering lights or fluctuating machine speeds (sudden transitions between fast and slow)? The term used to describe this phenomenon is “surge.” Surges from your generator are always unusual and can signal a potential problem with your generator.

In simplest terms, a generator surge or voltage surge is a sudden and dramatic increase in power that lasts anywhere from a few milliseconds to a second. Think of it like a huge wave on a calm sea; it’s fleeting, but has the potential to cause significant damage. Generators are designed to produce a steady flow of voltage, but uncontrollable factors can cause power surges that cause the generator to produce more energy than required, which can be damaging to both the generator and the equipment connected to it.

why is my generator surging possible causes

why is my generator surging? possible causes

What causes generator surging? There are many causes of generator surge, some are hardware-related and rooted in the physical components of the generator; others are more related to the conditions and manner in which the generator is used. Mainly include improper fuel use, improper maintenance, aging, capacitor failure, or other component problems.

fuel problems:

Most generators have specific fuel requirements, and using any fuel that deviates from these specifications can cause operating problems, Fuel problems usually cause generator surges, usually caused by one of three factors:

  • Improper fuel,
  • Insufficient fuel level
  • Fuel quality is below standard.

Contamination of the fuel with water or debris can lead to suboptimal engine performance, causing it to run poorly and surge. In the presence of water, the engine may experience stalling, whereas the presence of debris can result in the fuel system becoming clogged, thereby impeding the engine’s access to the necessary fuel.

faulty capacitors or other components

A capacitor in the generator helps maintain a consistent voltage supply. If this or any other major component becomes faulty, the generator may produce irregular voltage leading to surges.

poor maintenance

Regular maintenance helps identify and rectify potential issues before they morph into larger problems, such as power surges. Skipping these check-ups can sadly expedite the generator’s path towards a surge.

old age

Like any piece of machinery, generators are not immune to the effects of time. As they age, their components wear out, heightening the risk of a power surge.

damaged components

Any damage to the internal components, due to reasons like overheating, physical impact, or just prolonged use, could disturb the typical functioning of the generator and induce irregular power outputs.

sudden mechanical start-up

Turning a generator on or off suddenly with a heavy load connected can instigate powerful jolts of energy, translating into a power surge.

unbalanced load

Inconsistent or unbalanced load distribution halts the smooth functioning of generators. This variability causes fluctuations in power demands, potentially leading to a surge.

unstable motor

Outdated and unpredictable motors, as well as unstable batteries, often cause generators to produce erratic power levels. Machinery driven by older motors that lack speed governors can cause current variations that can lead to irregular voltage surges in the power supply, which can be potentially harmful to precision equipment.

AVR issues:

The AVR maintains the generator’s output voltage. So, an AVR that isn’t working properly, maybe due to wear and tear or damage, including intermittent failure, may lead to voltage surges.

clogged carburetor or fuel filter, spark plug problem

Issues such as clogged carburetor and fuel filters and faulty spark plugs can affect the generator’s ability to provide consistent power. These obstructions disrupt the combustion process, causing surge.

how to fix generator surges

how to fix generator surges?

Having understood what trigger power surges, coupled with their potential harms, it’s only natural to explore remedial actions. Fixing generator surges entails pinpointing the issue at hand and rectifying it accordingly. There is a range of solutions, each catering to different kinds of problems:

replace faulty equipment

Faulty or aging equipment within the generator can cause surges. Regular inspection helps to identify these flawed elements. For instance, a dirty air filter can be cleaned or replaced, worn-out spark plugs changed, a faulty alternator replaced, or a clogged carburettor cleaned or replaced. In the case of diesel generators, it is essential to regularly check and replace fuel injectors, if needed.

strictly prohibit overloading

Overloading is one of the most common, yet avoidable causes of power surges. Disconnect unnecessary appliances and stagger the use of heavy machinery to prevent overloading the generator.

replace fuel filter

Cleaning or replacing a congested fuel filter can ensure the smooth flow of fuel, helping the generator run steady and preventing surges.

use carburetor cleaner

Carburetor cleaners can dissolve dirt, dust, and residues that may have accumulated inside the carburetor, ensuring efficient fuel use and inhibiting power surges.

adjust the governor

The governor controls the speed of the generator. If the surge is due to unstable running speed, adjusting the governor to manage the engine speed effectively will help in fixing the issue.

empty and refill fuel tank

Sometimes, simply emptying and refilling the fuel tank can resolve inconsistencies in fuel distribution, thus alleviating power surges.

check and correct low oil pressure

The engine relies on oil to lubricate its moving components, and insufficient oil pressure may lead to a surge in the engine.


After an in-depth study of generator surges, BISON can safely say that prevention is better than cure when it comes to managing generator surges. We can prevent most power surges by taking proactive measures such as:

  • Regularly check the generator and replace it
  • Replace faulty parts and
  • Avoid overloading.

These efforts not only eliminate potential operational interruptions but also significantly extend the life of your generator, providing full value for your investment.

If you own a BISON generator and are experiencing surge issues, we’re here to help. Please contact our service professionals who can correct these problems and provide the necessary guidance. 

generator surges FAQS

3 Essential Safety Guidelines for Handling Power Surges

  • Disconnect electronic devices after a power outage. If a power outage occurs, be sure to disconnect all electronic devices before restoring power.
  • Use an extension cord equipped with surge protection. It’s worth noting that not all extension cords come with surge protection.
  • Provide dedicated individual sockets for large appliances. Make sure large appliances have their own dedicated outlets to minimize the risk of power surges.

Oscillator generators often cause lights to flicker on and off, creating a flickering effect. This phenomenon in machinery causes sudden changes in speed, such as a fan that intermittently speeds up and slows down without any apparent reason.

contact us

Please complete our contact form and we will soon get back to you with expert advice.


Get in touch to speak with our experts!

enquire today

Speak with our sales manager today for additional information or an obligation-free quote.