# What happens when a multi-fuel generator reaches capacity on LPG or NG?

I have a multi-fuel generator rated for 7.5KW on gasoline, 5.5KW on natural gas.

It has a 30A circuit breaker that will trip if demand exceeds capacity on gasoline

I would like to understand in some detail what happens if demand exceeds capacity on natural gas. The manufacturer says the breaker will trip. Is that right? How will a 30A breaker trip at what should be around 22A at max power on NG?

Common advice on some other forums is that the generator will overheat. Will it? Neither the engine nor alternator are running at the actual full power capacity designed for gasoline.

Will voltage drop? Presumably this could harm anything powered by it ... not just sensitive electronics but anything.

Any insights much appreciated.

• If you're running it on NG, there's nothing to stop you connecting its output via a 20A breaker.
– user16324
Commented Jan 30, 2021 at 16:35

If the engine is running at full speed and you suddenly add a massive load, then it will probably trip the breaker. There will be enough inertia in the system to do that.

But if it's a long-term overload of more than 5.5kW, then there are two likely possibilities:-

• It will brown out. The engine speed will drop and the voltage will drop with it.
• The engine will stall. On small generators, it's quite common for the engine to stall before the breaker ever trips.

I have a multi-fuel generator rated for 7.5KW on gasoline, 5.5KW on natural gas.

That means that

• the alternator is rated at ≥7.5 kW.
• the engine can supply enough mechanical energy to generate 7.5 kW when running on gasoline.
• the engine can supply enough mechanical energy to generate 5.5 kW when running on natural gas.

It has a 30A circuit breaker that will trip if demand exceeds capacity on gasoline

The circuit breaker has no idea what is generating mechanical power. It will trip when the current exceeds 30 A for a certain time.

I would like to understand in some detail what happens if demand exceeds capacity on natural gas. The manufacturer says the breaker will trip. Is that right? How will a 30A breaker trip at what should be around 22A at max power on NG?

See above.

Common advice on some other forums is that the generator will overheat. Will it? Neither the engine nor alternator are running at the actual full power capacity designed for gasoline.

The engine may overheat. The generator should run normally if you don't exceed the rated electrical demand for the fuel being used.

Will voltage drop?

If you overload the motor then frequency will drop due to mechanical loading. It is likely that the voltage will drop too.

Presumably this could harm anything powered by it ... not just sensitive electronics but anything.

Some things - lights, for example - will just go dim and won't be harmed. Others such as motors may stall and burn out. Electronics will vary.

It has a 30A circuit breaker

It's as simple as that - if the current doesn't exceed 30 amps (for long enough) it won't trip. So, is this a big problem? Probably not.

How will a 30A breaker trip at what should be around 22A at max power on NG?

It won't trip. However, if someone or something shorted the output and drew in excess of 30 amps for the required time period, it will trip. It's an over current protector and not an over-power protector.

Common advice on some other forums is that the generator will overheat. Will it? Neither the engine nor alternator are running at the actual full power capacity designed for gasoline.

Probably not.

Will voltage drop?

Voltage will certainly drop if you try and take more power than what the generator is capable of putting out.

Presumably this could harm anything powered by it ... not just sensitive electronics but anything.

Conceivably yes but most electronic loads won't suffer from under voltage. But, it can't be ruled out that some electronic loads will try and draw too much current for their own good in the event of an undervoltage.