Power Generation Control and Paralleling Upgrade

With the original controls supplied, the generator controllers provide such features as local and remote starting, remote communications over custom networks and SCADA systems, multiple generator synchronizing and paralleling (load-sharing), generator to utility synchronizing and base-loading (load-govern), with varying limits on flexibility and valuable features. Most of the OEM solutions are designed to only interface with their own corporate built machines.


When the systems are upgraded to ComAp InteliGen, the system maintains all of the original upside, with many features and available flexibility not offered by the OEM.


So, obviously I am advocating ComAp and specifically the InteliGen, InteliSys and InteliMains products. One will ask why, so the highlights are as follows:


  1. 32 controllers on one control area network (CANBus) (expandable to 32 banks) providing an application match to virtually any bus topology requirements for gens, mains, ties and group linking.
  2. Minimal wiring requirements between systems as all inter-controller operations are managed over CANBus (with redundancy, back-up and hot-swap options available). Including: Load-sharing, Voltage Matching, Synchronizing, Power Management, Run Hours Equalization, Manual Remote Start, Automatic Mains Failure, Base load, Import/Export, Process Control, Mode Switching, Generator Breaker Management and Protection (GCB / 52Gx), Utility (Mains) Breaker Management and Protection (MCB / 52Ux), Generator group breaker (MGCB / 52GMx), Tie and Feeder Breaker Control...............(it's a really long list)
  3. Direct communication over engine data-link (J1939, Modbus and other protocols) supporting direct communication and control of almost every engine and ECU as well as legacy systems,and Hydro-Mechanical (Analog) engines.
  4. Combining virtually any combination of engines, alternators, excitation systems, breaker arrangements into one control system
  5. Direct access to the entire control system over ONE software environment for monitoring, maintenance, history records and a "Plug & Play" SCADA system for the HMI on any Industrial PC or ComAp InteliVision 17 Touch.
  6. Ability to monitor single unit and system operational elements with InteliMonitor, PLC Monitor, and WinScope; both locally and remotely over LAN/WAN
  7. Access to ComAp WebSupervisor over TCP/IP and cellular networks or AirGate
  8. Access to control system remotely for trending, monitoring, remote diagnosis with InteliMonitor and WinScope PC tools
  9. One qualified service provider can manage the entire system
  10. Most added features are already included and customization is simple and intuitive
  11. Controllers have an Integral PLC module to enable added customization, without having to bring a third party PLC into the system! (the software is standard and no-charge)


Taking a closer look at the control systems from the OEM:
Control Wiring
Typical OEM controllers require a mixture of digital and analog interface wiring, over separate sub-systems, versus a control area network (CANBus). In a typical generator to utility paralleling installation some 30 individual conductors are needed for signal and control between each generator and the "master" control system, not to mention another 12 or so wires between the engine generator controllers. Then add in Modbus (232/485), Ethernet (TCP/IP), LonWorks and other "system networks" to the control wiring interface as well as network data converters and bridges.

Analog Wiring Control
Historically, the signal to share load, between machines, and control a load set-point against the infinite bus runs has been performed with analog bias wiring. This bias is highly susceptible to electrical interference (noise), voltage drop over wire length or dissimilar control voltages as well as technical and human error. CANBus control is not so heavily influenced and the technician error is non-existent.

Control Platform
Typical OEM control solutions do not employ a single platform control for both the generator, mains (utility), tie-breaker and feeder breaker control. What does this mean?


  1. The control devices are not communicating over a "native" arrangement. The Generator, Mains, Tie, Feeder are all isolated controls requiring direct hardwiring, sophisticated system knowledge and highly customized (one-of) system designs.
  2. Complex third party integration of signal, communication occurs within a programmable logic controller (PLC), reducing the system flexibility for future changes, added functionality, features and expansions
  3. Each system has separate engineering and configuration software, typically requiring several technicians and engineers from multiple service providers to work together to provide a solution. Each software element is separately licensed (frequently purchase is limited to in-network and OEM approved service centers only) and in most cases the configuration files are not shared between parties. Each software piece can run from US $1K to over US $10K.
  4. Each system has separate user or monitoring type software, thus requiring complex third party networks and SCADA systems to bring the whole "system" together.
  5. Human Machine Interfaces (HMI) and graphical displays are typically another third party hardware element. This is due to the dissimilar control systems and a need to integrate the complex systems into one user interface. Again step in the software monster and one-of complicated designs
  6. Most controller hardware, firmware and configurations are not forward/ backward compatible. Should a system component fail, a costly system update is looming.


In closing, now is the time to consider an upgrade to your power system, power plant, distributed generation assets and even stand-alone machinery. We add value, features and functionality that simply isn't available from the manufacturer.

For the future, and your next power generation asset order, demand the ComAp solution upfront. Doing this will add features your system and make it very simple to incorporate changes without extra engineering services and complex system redesigns.

We offer solutions based services and provide the know-how to perform these conversions, and in several cases we have kit-solutions available to update and upgrade your generator controllers to ComAp.

Erik Lensing
Erik Lensing
Regional Sales Manager ComAp North America

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