How do genset control panels work?

What Is a Generator Control Panel?

Most modern generators come with an electrical control panel that monitors, & protects the key components. But what exactly do they do and how do they work?

A generator is a machine that converts kinetic energy from a combustion engine into electrical power for use externally. They can be used for a wide range of applications whilst powering many different devices simultaneously. There are many different components that make up a generator set, here we focus on the control panel.

In this article, we hope to answer two main questions that you may have: What is a generator control panel and how does a generator panel work?

What Is a Generator Set Control System?

The first main question we want to answer is what is a generator control panel and exactly what it does. The generator control panel is a display parameter that presents different details and parameters regarding the generator whilst the generator is running.

These include details such as current, voltage, and frequency. Some generator control panels have built-in displays so that operators can visibly see and review the generators function. Some control panels have meters and gauges that will display the information as well.

All generator control panels will have either a built-in display, gauges or meters. Usually, they are housed in a metal waterproof housing and mounted to the generator. They also have vibration-proof padding to help insulate the control panel from shocks that can be caused by the generator whilst in operation.

Large commercial generators such as industrial grade versions or high voltage generators generally have control panels that are detached from the generator itself. This is due to the sheer size of some of them. Control panels that are fitted for these generators are usually standalone options, wall-mounted or shelf-mounted due to the weight and size.

Many generator control panels also have buttons and switches that can help to ensure the smooth operation of the generator. In addition to the on/off switch, generator control panels have preset modes that instruct the generator to perform specific configurations focusing on monitoring specific parameters.

In general, all switches and gauges are clustered together and are placed in groups depending on the functionality of them. This can make the Genset control panel easy to use and operate. It minimises the chance of a generator operator accidentally hitting the wrong control in error, especially in the event of an emergency.

The control panel can also be seen as the user interface of the generator, depending on its operation and functionality. It allows the generator controller to look and check on things such as system diagnostics, functions, and current status of the grantor. They are, after all, very heavy pieces of machinery and essential equipment for many capacities. They can be prone to things such as overheating, fluctuations in speed, and they can suffer other things such as general wear and tear.

How Does a Generator Panel Work?

In short, generator control panels contain a microprocessor that can process and manipulate input sensors. These can help to provide essential feedback to the control panel. This helps the generator operator manage any processes that occur by using the generator power electrical system circuit breaker.

A common feedback setting would be the temperature gauge. When the generator engine begins to reach a temperature threshold, the generator will shut down automatically to prevent damage.

The generator control panels are sometimes paired together with an ATS, or an automatic transfer switch in it’s long-form. An ATS will prompt the generator to start up with the event of a power loss due to power outage.

Generator Control Panels

Once restored, the power from the main grid, the generator will promptly shut off. As service from there, the main grid will then resume. This is due to the fact that the ATS is connected. However, there is also the manual switch that can be used by the control panel operator should the specific generator have the capacity for it.

Genset Control Panels

Without an automatic transfer switch (otherwise known as an ATS), the generator control panel generator has to be switched on manually. This is known as a manual transfer switch (MTS) When a power outage occurs and must also manually turn off the generator once power is restored. Using an ATS can avoid this, but in general, whether it is automatic or manual, the override system is still in place.

Control Panel

Using the automatic transfer switch backup power will help the functionality of the control panel. Failure to turn off the generator after power from the main grid is restored can cause an effect called back feeding. Back feeding can be a big issue for the generator and also the control panel operation moving forward.

For more information, or to discuss your requirements with our team of experts, call us on +44 (0) 1977 657 982 or email us at

Diesel Generators Generator Control Panels

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Blog published by ADE Power on October 29th, 2020

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