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Ground Power Unit Facts

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Ground power units are used to deliver power to an aircraft. There are many different types to choose from, based on need and availability. Some ground power units plug into an outlet, while others use a battery pack, gasoline, diesel engines, or turbine engines. The small turbine engines produce bleed air that is needed to start the engine, and electricity to the aircraft.

Ground power units are small and efficient. But, there are some facts that are essential knowledge before you decide what ground power unit will be best for you and your aircraft. There are different types, and different functions when it comes to GPU’s.

Getting your Facts Straight

Choosing Combustion Power or an Electrical Rectifier Combustion power is a great option for those that need portability. However, they are noisy and release a great deal of pollution into the air. The unit requires upkeep, and you will need to purchase gas or diesel in order for it to function.

Electrical Rectifiers are almost silent, compared to their combustion counterparts. A slight humming noise can be heard when they are in use. Standard electrical power is used to deliver electricity to the aircraft. 

Get the Right Power

Small jets and small to medium aircrafts usually run on a DC electrical system. They are either 12 or 24 volts, and will need a 14 volt DC or 28 volt DC to create power for the electrical functions of the plane.

Larger aircrafts use an AC electrical system; Usually in the area of 400 Hz. They require a lot of energy and DC units are unable to provide enough power to generate it for all areas of the larger aircraft

DC electrical systems are comparable to the batteries that power an automobile. AC electrical units could be compared to the power that flows through our homes. 

Don’t Make a Common Mistake

Buy new! There are a lot of used items available, but it is important to note that the upfront savings could cost you in the future. The machine you are purchasing could be inefficient. GPUs are complex machines that need routine maintenance and repairs. The maintenance and repairs of the unit should be done by a professional. There is no way to tell if repairs and maintenance have been completed by a professional or performed routinely when purchasing used. Substantial costs could be incurred if you have to send the unit for repair, and it is much easier to buy a new unit that is under warranty!

Don't Over or Under Purchase

Depending on the size of your aircraft, you may be able to purchase a DC unit for starting medium and smaller pistons and turbines. Overpurchasing, by buying a large dual-setting unit for big aircrafts, could be a costly mistake. It will not be dangerous to use the bigger GPU, but the bigger units come with a bigger price tag. Do your research and get the correct unit for your aircraft to function as intended, and be kind to your wallet!

Ground power units are essential pieces of equipment when your aircraft is on the runway. With proper maintenance, the GPU will function for many years. When deciding on a GPU, it is important to consider all factors, and contacting a professional to assist with the decision may be the best option. This will ensure that you don’t over or under purchase, and that you are getting the best unit for your particular situation.


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