Kohler Natural Gas Generators More Efficient than Ever

Get peak performance from natural gas generators

While diesel has been the conventional fuel of choice for backup generator sets because of its initial capital cost advantages, things are changing as regulations, costs and technologies have evolved, and, because of that evolution, natural gas generators have gained in popularity.

“Over the past 15 years, there have been numerous performance developments in gas generator set technology to improve fuel efficiency, reduce exhaust NOx emissions and increase ratings,” according to Clay Hardenburger, senior staff applications engineer for Kohler Co. Hardenburger is the author of a new whitepaper, Gas Generator Set Performance Characteristics, that takes an in-depth look at characteristics of natural gas powered generators, the fuel used, their applications, and more. (To get a copy of the free whitepaper, click here.)

Kohler's standby commercial generators can run on propane or natural gas.
Kohler’s standby commercial generators can run on propane or natural gas.

“These key development characteristics combined with incentives to develop renewable energy biogas fuel sources have moved the industry forward to consider gas generator sets as the preferred electrical power generation technology for continuous duty applications when paralleled with the utility,” writes Hardenburger. “In addition, recent expansion of natural gas fuel sources in the United States has resulted in low fuel prices, which is also driving the marketplace to utilize gas generator sets for standby and prime applications typically served by diesel generator sets.”

Kohler Co.’s Power Division offers a slew of EPA emissions-certified LP and natural gas generators in the up to 400 kW range, delivering an installation-ready product for residential power and light commercial applications. Kohler also developed a new line of large natural gas generators that are designed specifically for standby, prime or continuous power applications in the North American market. The large gas gen sets range from 425 kW to 1300 kW (and growing). For applications that require larger industrial generator sets, contact Steiner’s Power Systems division experts and they can help you choose the most appropriate generator.

The 14/20 kW RESA Kohler home generator
The 14/20 kW RESA Kohler home generator.

These natural gas generators run on relatively clean burning fossil fuels such as propane. The lower emission gaseous gen sets significantly reduce carbon monoxide and particulate emissions.

Get your generator locally from Steiner

Steiner Electric, a local authorized distributor of Kohler products, offers an extensive inventory of residential and commercial generators that primarily operate in standby-rated mode utilizing LP or NG fuel.

Models rated for residential and light commercial applications include the 14/20kW RESA models that feature Kohler’s PowerBoost Technology for improved starting power. The generator can easily start and run a 5-ton air conditioner. The 38/48/60kW RCL model offers quiet operation and the Fast-Response II excitation system that delivers excellent voltage response and short-circuit capability using a permanent magnet alternator.  The 60kW ERESB model for light commercial application, which utilizes NG and LPG gas, and depending on voltage achieves

The Kohler 38/48/60 kW RCL generator.
The Kohler 38/48/60 kW RCL generator.

a multitude of standby ratings for both gas types. The 80 to 150Kw ERESD models have numerous features including the Fast-Response X excitation system, and sophisticated control systems.

The Kohler 60 kW ERESB generator.
The Kohler 60 kW ERESB generator.

In addition to Steiner’s large inventory of generators, as a registered, certified distributor of Kohler generators, generator experts are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for emergency situations. In addition, all Steiner generator experts undergo rigorous training programs that must first be completed and are routinely updated.

Burn it Lean, Burn it Rich

These models operate differently depending on the fuel used, mixture of air and fuel, applications and other factors. Often, there are tradeoffs such as between power and efficiency.

To help straighten out the web of generator options, and best understand the unique factors of each, Hardenburger’s whitepaper addresses the

The 80/100/125/150 kW ERESD model generator for light commercial applications.
The 80/100/125/150 kW RESD model generator for light commercial applications.

performance characteristics found in gas generator sets that utilize different fuels and engines, power factor, generator set rating, load requirements, and more parameters.

Fuel sources, for instance, typically come in two categories: methane-based fuels sources and hydrocarbon-based fuel sources. As Hardenburger explains, methane-based fuels such as pipeline natural gas are for use in high-compression ratio, lean-burn engines. Hydrocarbon-based fuel sources such as propane can be used in low-compression ratio, rich burn engines.

Hardenburger says that gas engines are classified as either lean-burn or rich-burn combustion types. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages depending upon the application.

Lean-burn engines are associated with high-electrical efficiencies, and are typically used in continuous parallel with the utility applications as a primary power source because of limited transient response capabilities. Whereas rich-burn engines are usually associated with applications where transient load response is more critical than fuel efficiency. They are typically applied in emergency standby applications where the generator set system is the secondary power source when utility power is not available.

Rich-burn engines are a better choice in applications where large transient load changes above 30% are required. An LPG fuel source can be utilized in these applications without derate if low compression ratio engines are utilized.

Kohler large natural gas generator
Kohler offers natural gas generators at up to 1300 kW. For more information about your application, contact your Steiner Power Systems application engineer at (847) 956-3098.

Lean-burn engines are a better choice in applications where the utility is always present, and the required operational capacity exceeds 8,000 hours per year. Fuel efficiency is a key consideration in continuous applications, so engines with high compression ratios are typically utilized. Heavy hydrocarbon fuels such as LPG cannot be utilized in these applications without significant engine derate.

To help understand the basics of gas generator characteristics, their benefits and tradeoffs, download the Kohler whitepaper, Gas Generator Set Performance Characteristics, or reach out to your local Steiner Power Systems application engineer at 1-800-STEINER (783-4637).



Use Backup Generators to Prepare for Spring Storm Power Outages

Spring StormSpring storms can wreak havoc and cause major disruptions to daily routines for homes and businesses. Being prepared in advance for spring storms that can cause power outages is critical to maintain operability, mitigate production losses and prevent injuries or even fatalities. Whether you’re caring for a home or managing a commercial facility providing a backup power source through a residential generator or an industrial generator can help keep everyone safe and productive without interruption. Following are some general tips on how to be prepared for spring storms at home or in a commercial business environment.


There are several ways in which you can ensure your home and family are ready for spring storms. Being prepared is your best defense against a power outage. The precautions outlined in the following checklist are important to maintain in the event of an outage.

  • Develop a family emergency plan. It can include phone numbers of doctors and family members, an evacuation route and a location that is agreed upon prior to meet.
Home disaster kit in preparation for a spring storm.
Prepare your Disaster Kit
  • Create your own disaster kit. This kit can also be a simple Emergency Storm Bucket, which contains important items such as sharpies, tape, flashlights, first aid kits, Ziploc bags, matches, candles, batteries, radio, landline phone, safety gear like goggles, and camera to document damage in a storm.
  • Turn off major appliances such as microwaves, TVs, and computers. This will prevent damage to appliances and overloads to the power system when power is restored. Leave one light switch on so you can be alerted when power is restored.
Unplugging your appliance from the wall in a spring storm.
Unplug appliances to prevent damage to appliances and overloads to the power system
  • Familiarize yourself with the main electrical panel. You may need to turn off the main breaker or reset circuit breakers after an outage.
  • Keep away from fallen wires, flooded areas and storm debris. You should treat any downed wires as though they have electricity running through them.
  • Consider installing a Kohler Standby Generator to protect your home. Standby Generators are installed permanently on the outside of your home. More information on residential generator options is provided later in this article.
  • Use caution when operating a portable generator. Use properly rated extension cords, and don’t place them in your home or enclosed space like a garage. Don’t connect them directly to the home’s electrical system, as electricity can flow back into the power lines and serve as a liability. Plug appliances directly into the portable generator.
KOHLER portable generator
Portable Generator

Many homeowners are now installing an emergency backup power generator. The number one issue people are faced with after a storm is lack of power, cutting off communication and other essentials. There are two main types of residential generators to choose from – portable generators and automatic standby generators.

Some homes opt for portable generators when planning for storm power outages. The benefits include ease of mobility and economical options. They are designed to run a select number of appliances as opposed to the entire home, so there are trade-offs to the benefits as opposed to a standby generator.

A portable generator must be positioned outside a home away from doors and windows in order to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Homeowners must run the correct extension cords to the generator and need to be present in order to operate and refuel the generator manually.

Kohler Standby Generator
Automatic Standby Home Generator

Automatic standby generators are installed outside the home. Standby generators rely on an automatic transfer switch, which automatically switches on the generator when it senses the main source of power has been lost, and unlike a portable generator, they offer the added benefit of being permanently installed outside the home.

They run on natural gas or propane and run on existing gas lines. Once power is lost in a home, standby generators are turned on automatically within 10 seconds. These generators can power all critical systems and appliances within a home. Homeowners will NOT need to be present to operate and refuel the generator.

A 20 kW KOHLER generator, ideal for homes during and after spring storms
Kohler Home Generator

It is also important to properly maintain your generator by having a professional generator repair technician service the unit periodically. Steiner can help you maintain your generator and keep it running optimally. You can call Steiner at 847-956-3098 anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for generator repair and maintenance services.

In addition to protecting residential homes Kohler also offers commercial and industrial generators that reliably power your business.


Like homeowners, businesses need to make contingency and safety plans ahead of time in preparation for a power outage. The actual protocols vary on the type of commercial facility, however. For example, some buildings have elevators or escalators that may need to follow specified state or municipal regulations. Escape routes, stairwells and exits should be clearly marked. Emergency lights can also be installed to provide visibility by automatically switching on during a power outage. You can get more information on power outage regulations and safety requirements from your local fire department and government offices.

Businesses can benefit, too, from emergency kits. Flashlights, batteries, first aid kits, tools and even food and water are some ideal items to keep in your emergency kits. Having food available serves in the event that employees are confined to the building for an extended period of time.

In order to help save valuable data make sure employee work stations use UL-listed surge protectors and computers are backed up regularly to a data center that utilizes an uninterruptible power supply to keep its servers running when a power outage hits.

Small Business Commercial Generator
Small Business Commercial Generator

Many businesses install backup power generators for industrial and commercial continuous, prime or standby applications. For small businesses a standby commercial generator keeps power on and allows the  business to maintain operations during an outage. The generator is installed on the outside of the facility, much like an AC unit, and uses an automatic transfer switch to turn on automatically when it senses the main power source has been lost, during and outside of normal business hours so critical computing or machine operations can continue. These standby commercial generators run on propane or natural gas, so there’s no refueling.

A powerful choice for a spring storm generator
Industrial Generator

For larger commercial applications Kohler industrial generators can power large-scale data centers, sports stadiums, concert venues, skyscrapers, office buildings and airport facilities. These industrial generators run on diesel, natural or propane gas. In addition to industrial generators installed onsite Kohler offers towable generators.

Towable generators from Kohler, a great spring storm generator
Towable Generator

Towable generators are designed to be used for powering remote locations, sporting events or concerts. They can power hard-wired systems such as A/C, heat, computers, security systems and refrigerator/freezers. Towable generators run on diesel fuel or LP gas.

Backup power is important for every business; there are many benefits, including but not limited to:

  • Keeping the lights, A/C and heating on to provide a safe environment for employees and patrons
  • Protecting your revenue stream and inventory during an outage
  • Powering your communication, security systems and computing systems
  • Keeping operations running so your customers can rely on you

Power generators are a necessity for any business or homeowner alike. How do you decide which type is the best option for you? A towable or an installed commercial generator for your business? Standby or portable generator for your home? As an authorized Kohler Dealer, Steiner can help point you in the right direction with our wide variety of Kohler Generator options and experienced professional technicians. Whether you need help with installation, maintenance, repair or rental of a generator, Steiner Electric offers 24-hour service by simply calling us at 847-956-3098. An operator will be happy to assist and connect you with a seasoned professional generator technician.

Planning for the Worst: No Electricty

Summer-Power-OutagesThe heat, the humidity, the storms: Summer in the Midwest. With the summer storm season in full bloom and a change of season around the corner (Sorry for the reminder), there’s no better excuse to make sure your home and business are prepared in case of a weather-related emergency. Continue reading “Planning for the Worst: No Electricty”

When the Lights Go Out, but Still Light Up the Sky

With summer officially here, many states across the country are launching Lightning Awareness Campaigns. While lightning can occur at any time of the year, thunderstorms tend to be more frequent during the summer months. Couple that with a winter-weary populace ready to enjoy the outdoors, and it’s no wonder that lightning is one of the top weather killers in the United States.

Lightning_awareness Continue reading “When the Lights Go Out, but Still Light Up the Sky”