Bill Heese, Sales Account Manager at Husker Power Products, answers questions about choosing the optimal engine for your operation.

Q: “How can producers ensure they’re choosing the right engine size for their operation?”

A: “The importance of determining the correct horsepower (HP) rating of the engine purchase is vital and cannot be overstated. It is always worth calculating what the actual HP requirement is, rather than simply going with what you’re replacing or guessing. It used to be a common mindset to replace previous engines with the same size or larger, but that is not always beneficial—particularly with newer technologies. You want an engine large enough to handle everything you need it to do without being overloaded but to retain greatest economic efficiencies (initial, fuel, and maintenance costs), you do not want to buy an engine platform beyond what is needed. We have a set of questions we ask producers considering a purchase in order to determine how the engine will be used and accurately arrive at a TDH (Total Dynamic Head) and kW (Kilowatt) figure, which is then converted back to horsepower. Then, we can be confident the customer has a unit that will reliably serve them for many years into the future.”

Q: “What questions should you ask yourself or your engine dealer to determine the actual horsepower needed?”

A: “There are three main questions you should ask:

  1. Will it be used solely as a generator to produce power, with electrical power used for everything else?
  2. Is the engine by way of a PTO, or direct drive, going to turn a gear head or centrifugal pump?
  3. Is it going to be installed in such a way where there will also be HP needed for more than one task where it might be pumping water and simultaneously driving a generator or hydraulic pump?

Q: “What are four things to consider when purchasing irrigation equipment?”

A: “Ultimately, we believe the total cost of ownership should be the biggest thing to understand before making a long-term purchase like an irrigation engine—not just initial purchase costs but cost throughout the life of the engine. The other three considerations include choosing the best power source by calculating local energy costs, availability of service and parts, and reliability of the chosen energy source or supply.”

Q: “What are common misconceptions when it comes to choosing an engine?”

A: “Many producers mistakenly believe that electric is the only way they can achieve the level of automation or remote monitoring, operation, and control they desire and that is absolutely not the case. New non-electric models, like propane-powered engines, are highly programmable and optional telematics allow you to control and access information on your power unit in real time through your phone, tablet, or computer.”

“We’ve also heard reports where a decision was made to go all electric just to avoid oil changes and while that is understandable on the surface, there are many other solutions available—like installing an optional service extending device that adds oil capacity and filtration to reduce the frequency (and possibly completely eliminate) oil changes during the irrigation season, depending on hours run. When you calculate overall energy costs, you just may find that the time spent changing oil earns you the highest per hour dividend compared to anything else in your operation.”