How To Adjust Generator for High Altitude (Step by Step Guide)

A portable generator is an important addition to any home or business property. Generators should remain in perfect condition to come in handy when your area has power-related issues.

Even though portable generators are used at an altitude below 1,000 ft., you should take into consideration how higher altitudes can impact your generator’s performance.

Experts believe that if the altitude is higher than 1,000 ft. above sea level, the horsepower reduces by 3%.

In this blog post, I will tell you everything you need to know about the impact of high altitudes on portable generators and their engines.

I will also guide you on how you can maximize your generator’s performance at high altitudes.

Does High Altitude Affect Generators?

Most generator manufacturers and people tend to focus on issues affecting engine displacement, efficiency, power, and connectivity.

They end up forgetting the impact of altitude on portable generators.

Actually, most generator owners have questions pertaining to this issue.

Anything above 1,000 ft above sea level reduces horsepower.

I noticed this some years ago when I set out to go on a trip into the mountains in my RV.

I had planned to power the mountain cabin using the generator and at some point, I realized it had some issues.

Therefore, when using a generator at high altitudes there are several things you should have in mind.

Why Does High Altitude Affect Generators’ Efficiency?

The fact is that high altitude affects how a generator functions by interrupting the power.

Generators’ engines work through combustion which needs oxygen.

Remember, as the altitude increases, the oxygen levels in the atmosphere reduce.

As a result, the efficiency of the engine is reduced because of the insufficient oxygen.

If you remember what you studied, naturally the higher you go from the earth’s surface, the thinner the air becomes.

That’s why you go mountain climbing with oxygen cylinders, especially on higher mountains.

Generators act just like us, and they are designed to work perfectly at a lower altitude.

Beyond some altitudes above sea level, your generator will automatically have a problem generating power.

Without enough oxygen, the inverter generator engine can’t oxidize the fuel.

Another reason is that heat dissipation is a problem at higher altitudes.

Heat is a form of energy and it needs an agent to move from one place to the other.

Generators produce heat when working and this heat needs to move for the machine to work properly.

As you go higher, the air gets thinner and dissipation becomes a problem since there isn’t sufficient air to carry the heat out of the generator.

The only way to overcome this challenge is by getting a water-cooled generator.

The other issue your generator will have is incomplete combustion due to the unavailability of oxygen.

Incomplete combustion produces dangerous carbon monoxide fumes instead of carbon dioxide.

How Do You Manage Generator Issues at High Altitudes?

The main reason you’re advised to get a portable generator engine is so that you can have a power source even in remote areas.

  1. Most manufacturers have realized that generators don’t function well at higher altitudes and some of them have taken steps to resolve this issue.

They have mainly focused on resolving the insufficient oxygen and thin air problems.

As a generator owner, the only way you can resolve these issues is by getting an altitude-friendly generator and ensuring it has sufficient output.

Generators are perfect solutions to power loss and operating them should be safer and hassle-free.

  1. Another way of solving altitude-related issues is by rejetting the generator.

This is a process that controls how much fuel gets into the carburetor.

By controlling the fuel, the fuel-air ratio is fixed in a way that the fuel is adequate for the available air density at any altitude.

Nowadays many generator models come with jet kits that are responsible for rejetting the generator.

Therefore, if you want to go on a trip or to a place with a high altitude you have to check your generator’s maximum safe altitude limit.

  1. In case you’re going to an altitude that’s higher than what’s recommended by the manufacturer, ensure your generator has a high-altitude jet kit.

That way, you’ll be able to control how much fuel is injected into the carburetor.

Engines that come with high altitude jets are the best for maximum energy production and safe use,

After all, the jet ensures your generator runs smoothly just like it would in lower altitudes.

Note that not all manufacturers will provide a jet kit and getting jet equipment might be against their warranty terms.

Therefore, carefully check your manufacturer’s manual before altering the generator.

If your manufacturer provides a jet kit, check the manual for instructions and follow them to avoid unnecessary damage to the entire engine.