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What is a Generator Drive Engine?

A generator drive engine has been designed to operate at a fixed speed, providing mechanical power to drive an electricity generator in a standby, prime or continuous service.

Our primary engine suppliers—John Deere, Kubota, Mitsubishi and GE—all offer engines that are optimized for power generation purposes. These engines combine excellent speed control with fuel economy and durability.

Checklist 2Checklist of Things to Consider

Ambient Conditions PDF-Icon 1 darkback 2

What will be the highest and lowest temperatures at which the engine will be expected to function? What will the maximum altitude be? Will it operate in dusty conditions?  This will affect the air cleaner and pre-cleaner selection and may affect the fin spacing on the cooling radiator.

Cooling Method

Most land based engines dissipate their heat through a conventional radiator and fan system but marine generator drive engines are often heat exchanger or keel cooled. Thought should be given to radiant heat and noise.

Enclosure Requirement

If the engine will be housed in an enclosure you may want to think about the possibility of the enclosure being affected by ice buildup or other weather related concerns. Service access will normally be looked after by the supplier but deserves consideration. Is sound attenuation required?


In some applications, such as rental power, portability is a concern. Fuel storage requirements and the ability to withstand road shocks need to be considered.

Engine Size

The end use of the machine will determine what engine best suits the job. As a rule, the larger the displacement, the slower the speed (rpm) the longer the life. However, a large displacement, slow speed engine is not the right engine for a rental application. There is too much mass and usually the costs are prohibitive. So thought needs to be given to what the set will do over its intended lifetime. If you want to move it on site and leave it running for many years, you will select a different engine than someone looking for a generator set that can be readily moved in a pickup truck.

Sizing the engine properly is extremely important both for operating efficiency and for longevity. An engine operating with a light load cannot be efficient. In fact, light loads for extended time periods can cause serious damage to the engine.

Available Engines

Here are links to and brochures from our engine manufacturers.

Have a look around and then give us a call and let us help you find what you need.


John Deere Generator Drive Engines – Standby/Stationary 36 to 473 kWm (48 to 634 hp)
John Deere Generator Drive Engines – Prime Power 36 to 448 kW (48 to 600 hp)

John Deere generator drive engines are known for durability, fuel economy, and reliability. Customers in Western Canada and throughout the world trust John Deere engines.

John Deere Generator Drive Applications Brochure (pdf)
Generator Drive Engine Ratings (pdf)
John Deere Expanded DOC/SCR Engine Lineup Flyer (pdf)

Kubota BG Series Generator Engines 8.9 to 33.6 kW (11.9 to 45 hp)

Kubota diesels are widely used for electrical power generation. The compact, multi-cylinder design offers smooth operation and long engine life. For information on the Kubota engines used in our PowerLine Generators, see Kubota-driven PowerLine Generators.

Kubota BG Series Generator Engines Specification Guide (pdf)


Mitsubishi engines (large bore) are widely used in prime and standby power service, worldwide. These robust engines are produced in Sagamihara, Japan and supported in North America by Mitsubishi Engine North America (MENA).

Model Standby Power Engine Speed Tier Brochure Spec Sheet
S6R-Y2PTAW-1 685 kW  1800 rpm 2 PDF-Icon 1 white 1 PDF-Icon 1 white 1
S12A2-Y2PTAW-2 900 kW  1800 rpm 2 PDF-Icon 1 white 1  PDF-Icon 1 white 1
S12H-Y2PTAW-1 1140 kW  1800 rpm 2 PDF-Icon 1 white 1 PDF-Icon 1 white 1
S12R-Y2PTAW-1 1403 kW  1800 rpm 2 PDF-Icon 1 white 1 PDF-Icon 1 white 1
S16R-Y2PTAW-1 1750 kW 1800 rpm 2 PDF-Icon 1 white 1 PDF-Icon 1 white 1
S16R-Y2PTAW2-1 2180 kW 1800 rpm 2 PDF-Icon 1 white 1 PDF-Icon 1 white 1
GE - Distributor GE Marine & Stationary Power 1
GE’s Stationary Diesel Generator Sets (1 MW to 3 MW)

These heavy-duty, medium speed engines (to 1,000 rpm) are designed to provide an extremely long service life. Exceptional fuel economy and low operating costs combine to assure owners of the lowest possible life cycle costs.

GE – Stationary Power V228 and 250 Series Diesel Gen Sets Brochure (pdf)
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