Generator Break In Load Or No Load? (How To Break In + Tips)

Generators work hard. They power a lot of different devices so you can cut electrical costs or camp out in nature. When they are new, it is a wise move to follow all break-in instructions. While not a guarantee, it is the way to make sure the generator works at optimum levels in the future.

According to our research, it is best to use a light load during the break-in period. Some suggestions included using a small heater with two heat zones that do not exceed the manufacturer’s recommendations.

To learn more about this important topic, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can keep your generator in top shape for years to come.

Is There a Break-in Period For a New Generator?


Yes, there is and this break-in period is essential as it protects your generator by covering all the parts with oil. Having those parts lubricated correctly helps protect the machine from damage.

If you don’t follow the break-in instructions, then you could be shortening its lifespan. There is the possibility of small pieces of metal breaking off inside the engine and doing damage if you do not follow the instructions correctly. This time frame is only a few hours long so there is no point skipping it.

Do You Need To Break in a Generator?

Again the answer is yes. There are legitimate reasons why you need to observe all the instructions for breaking in your generator. One main reason has been said already. The break-in period gets all the parts that need oiling, oiled.

That is essential as the moving parts work freely without being damaged. It is important to make sure the oil tank is full of oil. You do not want to start the motor without some lubrication in the tank.

Generator Break-in Load or no Load?

It is best to have a little load drawing power from the generator but that connection may not need to happen until the third hour of the break-in time. The first two hours should be run without a load and changing the oil after every hour the motor is running.

In the third hour you should have a load but keep it to the recommendation that should be in your manual. If your manual doesn’t have this recommendation, you want to be at 50% of full power or less.

How Long Should You Run a Generator To Break it in?


The general break-in time is roughly 5 hours. Your manufacturer may state a different time and if it does, then go with that recommendation. Everywhere we looked, the stated time was 5 hours, and multiple oil changes after each hour.

We have come across instructions that say to only spend 3 hours breaking in your generator but play this by ear. Not all of these devices are built the same and small engines may need less time

What Oil do You use To Break in a Generator?

The type of oil you should use to break in your generator will depend on the time of year you bought the device. For example, straight SAE 30 oil is perfect for the warm Spring, Summer, and Fall months.

If you bought your generator in the colder months of the year, you should move to a 10W 30 motor oil, and 5W 30 synthetic oil is good for all temperatures. But make sure the oil is made for the engine as diesel oil is made for diesel engines

Oil Conditioner For Generator

This product is essential if you want to avoid having dry starts. There are a lot of different types of oil conditioners on the market today and you should not go cheap here. Get the best you can for the ultimate level of protection.

This product is recommended for those heavy-duty generator engines as dry starts are really hard on the components. Make sure to use a funnel when pouring oil, oil conditioner, and gas into your generator’s tanks. It saves on messes and ugly spills.

Best Way To Break in a Generator


The best way to do this task is to follow the break-in instructions that came with your specific generator. If you do not see any instructions in the manual, then ask the dealer or call the company directly.

You do not want to skip this step at any time. Instructions may be different for larger generators than for smaller ones but this time is mandatory for all makes, models, and sizes. If you still can’t find instructions to guide you, click here.

What To Use To Break in Generator

There are four key essential items you need to have on hand when you buy your new generator. The first is the proper oil type. The second is the oil conditioner and the third is the correct fuel.

The fourth is a low-load device like a space heater that doesn’t draw a lot of power, a hair dryer, or something similar. There is a fifth element to this process and that is time. You will need time to do the break-in right.

Champion Generator Break-in

The first 5 hours is considered the break-in period. During this time you need to stay at or below the 50% load mark. You can change the load draw but do not exceed that barrier.

When the 5 hours are up, you need to change the oil and that is all there is to it. It is not hard to break in a generator, it just needs to be done right. This process may be different for other brands of generators so double-check the process for them

Firman Generator Break-in Procedure


According to the Firman website, all they say to do is change the oil after the first 25 hours of service and you are good to go. Then change the oil every 100 hours from there on out.

The company also recommends that you use 10W 30 regular oil or 5W 30 synthetic oil when the weather gets cold. If 25 hours seems too long for you, there is no warning that prevents you from using the 3 or 5-hour method. It is up to you which directions you use.

Pulsar Generator Break-in

One Pulsar manual stated that the break-in period lasts for 20 hours. During this time avoid overloading the device so that it can work normally throughout this time. When the 20 hours are up, you simply change the oil.

This manual was for the 7000W Diesel generator so check your owner's manual to see what it says for your model. Different models should have different instructions. If you can’t find the information go with the 3 to 5-hour method or contact the Pulsar dealer for more information.

Wen Generator Break-in

For this model, make sure to pour some oil conditioner into the spark plug chamber. This helps lubricate the piston. Then run the device for one hour without any load and at the lowest possible speed.

After an hour, change the oil and add some oil conditioner to the tank and run for another hour. Do this for the third hour and your generator should be broken in. The second and third hours can be run without any load or it may be possible to go to 1/2 load or less.

Check your manual to see if that is possible or call the dealer if it doesn’t say.

Generator Break in Eco Mode


We did not see any different instructions for this option of break-in. But you should check your manual as break-in requirements change as generator motor technology changes. Older machines may not have the same break-in requirements as newer models.

This is a key fact you need to consider when you buy your new generator. What worked before may not work for the new brand or model you are buying. Always make sure to use the right amount of oil and prime the spark plug chamber to make sure the piston can move easily and freely.

Some Final Words

What we found throughout our research on this topic is that different owners use their own procedures to break in their new generators. Some use purples oil and some don’t. Some have manuals that provide the information needed and some do not.

You should be safe with the processes we described above but if you are still in doubt, call the dealer or company to make sure you get the right information for the model of generator you bought.

That is the best advice we can give you as the break-in period is essential if you want your model to last you for a long time. There are good websites that provide great instructions as well.

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