What are the differences between basic and advanced remote monitors for power generators?

Jesse Gott Power Generators, Remote Monitoring

When searching for remote monitors for machines such as backup power generators, the market offers both basic and advanced options. Basic remote monitors typically offer fewer features at a lower immediate cost, while more advanced monitors offer unique features which might be required. The best monitors usually make up for their higher starting cost over time, depending on how they are used.

Advanced remote monitors allow you to have more control and a greater number of data points

The most basic remote monitors offer a handful of total data points, which are usually limited in detail to simple analog values like voltage, on/off, fuel level, remote test, and a few others. When searching for monitors, if you only need a few key data points, a simple monitor may be a good fit for you.

In many cases, more data points from an advanced monitor may be helpful or even necessary, such as identifying the reason for a failed test cycle. Being able to remotely test and diagnose your genset from a distance can save enormously on travel and technician costs, and may be the only way to scale operations based on the number of machines being monitored.

Depending on the machine’s interface, you may want to access many or nearly all of the local console’s options. This requires top-tier remote monitors both to allow installation and to transmit the data points. Modbus connection and universal compatibility are two features that would be indicative of a more robust remote monitor.

Better remote monitoring companies provide ongoing technical support, data flow, and a reliable user interface to check monitoring data

Readouts from your remote monitor are only as good as your ability to access and use them. With few total readouts at a low frequency, you may consider a simple remote monitor backed by a hands-off company in order to reduce costs. However, even with the most basic commercial and residential applications, remote monitors ensure the functionality of an important piece of equipment.

The best way to make sure that your remote monitor is installed correctly and remains usable is to have ongoing technical support from the manufacturer. With many monitors being sold as-is or paired with a maintenance contract for only the generator, the best manufacturers offer direct support for the monitor. Live phone assistance for your installation or maintenance technician guarantees that your monitor will work both in the present and the future and that usage will be optimal.

When the hardware is installed and working, it’s important to have reliable data flow to and from your monitors. This depends on the quality of the remote monitoring company’s servers and network. Some basic monitors offer wi-fi connectivity to reduce costs. Although this is more immediately cost effective, if there is a power failure and the genset doesn’t start, you may never be notified due to connection issues, since wifi requires local power and cellular does not. Ideally, you would want no downtime or delay on your data from your remote monitor provider.

For advanced monitors, you would also want a user interface where you can check your data from multiple devices of different types. Make sure that you can log in and see the live status of your power generators from desktop, tablet, and mobile devices.

Advanced monitors are typically built to last longer, with things like self-preserving features and company warranties

Long-term costs for remote monitors are best reduced by extending the life of your monitors. Simply put, a monitor that lasts half as long must be replaced twice as fast, effectively doubling the cost.

Longevity is best backed up by a manufacturer warranty. This way, any replacement costs nothing, although replacements should be rare since devices are typically warrantied because the manufacturer built them to last.

Depending on what you will monitor and whether the monitor will be used indoors or outdoors, there are many different self-preserving features on the market. To learn more about advanced remote monitor features, contact OmniMetrix now.