Fuel Tank Monitors for Emergency Generators
What do you need from a generator fuel tank monitor?
Tank monitors may have lots of features and options that you don’t need for a simple emergency generator fuel tank. That is because many monitors are designed for gas station applications with underground tanks and dispensers. Here are the basic functions actually needed for emergency power:
- How much fuel is in the tank? Is it enough to run the generator as long as needed. Is it below our refill standard of 75%? How much fuel should I order?
- Is the tank leaking or is everything OK? Tank monitors monitor for leak as well as level.
- When refilling, is there overfill protection against spills? Tank monitors will activate remote alarms at the filling point to stop fill, and may automatically close valves in the fill line.
- Am I in compliance with the environmental rules? The leak detection functions in the tank monitor are important for environmental and fire code compliance. Annual certification of monitors may be required to prove compliance.
- Can I check fuel levels remotely in the building or from another location? Tank monitors have various ways to communicate tank levels remotely. Often it is a simple low level signal that is tied into a building BMS, security, or fire system. But it may also be a data connection, such as Modbus, for fuel level gallons and other information.
Why are fuel tank monitors different for generators versus gas stations?
The biggest practical difference is the most generators have a single, or maybe 2 tanks. Most gas stations or truck stops have 3-30 tanks. A large full featured tank monitor designed for gas stations will be many times more costly that a 1-2 tank unit designed for generators.
The second reason is that gas station monitors have more complex features for fuel dispenser, submersible pump, point of sale, and other system integrations. The complexity will mean more frequent and more costly maintenance.
Does it make a difference a if the tank is underground?
An underground tank will be subject to more extensive regulation and technical requirements for the tank monitor. However since most tank monitors are used in underground tanks, the generator tank monitors usually have all of those requirements built in.
It is worth checking this point, because some very simple tank gauges will not comply with underground tank rules. In some cases generator tanks will need Pressurized Line Leak Detection (PLLD) for underground piping with submersible pumps. Not all tank monitors versions support PLLD, so if needed the correct tank monitor needs to be selected.
What are the major brands of tank monitors?
For generator applications the major brands are Pneumercator, Veeder Root, and Franklin.
Pneumercator: Over 100 year old Pneumercator is the leader in commercial, non-retail fuel tank monitors. They are widely used in generator applications for telecom, data center, hospital, and other mission critical facilities.
Veeder Root: Another 100+ year old company, Veeder Root is the leader in retail fuel tank monitors and also very strong in generator applications.
Franklin Fueling: Franklin is part of Franklin Electic a 100 year old company and a leader in submersible pump manufacturing. Franklin Fueling consolidated the tank monitor brands of EBW and Incon, to become a broadly distributed brand.
How do I select the best tank monitor for my generator site?
The table below shows the make and model of the tank monitors most common for generator applications. They all do the basics well.
While the Veeder Root and Franklin have modern touch screen interfaces, the Pneumercator Models are particularly suited for generators because of a couple of sometimes important features:
- Modbus RS-485: Connection is easy to use and industrial grade for integration into building systems. Veeder Root requires an adapter for Modbus / BacNet, and Franklin also has Modbus available built-in.
- Rated for Outdoor Mounting: The TMS 1000 is NEMA 4 Waterproof rated, and has a very broad temperature rating. The TMS 2000 also has a very broad temperature rating. And the displays of both are readable in sunlight conditions. Veeder Root and Franklin are rated for indoor use only, and if used outdoors would require a weatherproof cabinet, heating, likely cooling, and a shaded space for display reading.
- Analog Level Interface: The optional analog interface for level is important in some integration scenarios.
Here are the Brands we Compare:
A 1 Tank Monitor with Leak Detection and Exceptional Integration Capabilities. Specifically designed for generator applications with sub-base or aboveground fuel tanks. Flexible for Exterior Mounting with Weatherproof Enclosure and Broad Temperature Range.
Pneumercator TMS 2000
A 1-2 Tank Monitor with Leak Detection and Exceptional Integration Capabilities and Optional Integral Printer. Use with Underground or Aboveground Tanks. Long Legacy in Mission Critical Applications.
Veeder Root TLS-4
A 1-2 Tank Monitor with Leak Detection and Integration Capabilities from the leader in tank monitors for retail fuel sites.
Franklin Fueling EVO-200
A popular 1-2 Tank Monitor with Leak Detection and Integration Capabilities
How much do generator fuel tank monitors cost?
Our rough estimate is $6,000 equipment cost, or $16,000 fully installed.
Is my current gauge still good, or is it obsolete?
Here is a quick rundown by brand:
Pneumercator E-14 and E-29
Released Mid 1980s, End 2008
Pneumercator E-700 and LDE-700
Released Mid 1980s, End 2005
- TLS 100 Released 1979, End 1980s
- TLS-250 Released 1981, End 1990s
- TLS-350 Released 1994, Close to End
Franklin Fueling EBW / Incon
- EBW Auto-Stik Released 1980s, End 2000s
- ncon Tank Sentinel TS-1001
- Incon TS 500 – TS-5000
Why do I need to upgrade my obsolete tank monitor?
The primary reason to upgrade is that you can’t get parts or service for the old unit. Especially in an emergency it can seem like a long time to get a replacement ordered, delivered, installed, and tested.
The second reason is that a newer gauge should reduce the cost to operate and maintain the fuel system with a better user interface and remote communication options.
The third reason is that the old system fails a test, or lacks a capability required for new environmental rules.
What are my upgrade options for obsolete monitors?
Here are the common transitions:
Pneumercator (E14,29 or E-700. LDE700) Transition to
>> Pneumercator TMS 1000 if aboveground tank
>> Pneumercator TMS 2000 if underground tank
Veeder Root (TLS-250 or soon TLS-350) Transition to:
>> Veeder Root TLS-4, or
>> Veeder Root TLS-450 if PLLD needed for piping
Franklin Fueling (Incon Tank Sentinel or EBW Auto-Stik)
>> Franklin EVO-200, or
>> Franklin EVO-550/600 if PLLD needed for piping