Selecting the right GPU for your operation

Ground power unit options have come a long way since the days of heavy ferro-resonant power supplies and high emission diesel GPUs. Modern technology and manufacturing processes offer more compact and efficient technology options for aircraft owners and operators, and we will explore some of those options in this article.

General aviation aircraft, light to medium jets, and turboprops mostly use direct current (DC) electrical systems. These systems are similar to those used in the automotive industry. The systems are powered by 12V or 24V batteries and utilize a 14V or 28V system, respectively, to power aircraft systems and fully recharge the on-board batteries.

On the other hand, commercial airliners and large business jets use alternating current (AC) electrical systems. These large aircraft utilize this type of electrical setup because they require a lot more power than a DC system can provide relative to its total weight.

Technical considerations when selecting a GPU:

1. Output capabilities: Of course, the first consideration when selecting a GPU is its ability to provide the correct type (DC, AC, or Both) and amount of power (kVA or Watt rating) for the aircraft. Some GPUs provide enough power for aircraft systems only, while others combine this capability with the ability to start the engines as well.

2. Power source:
a. Gas and diesel GPUs: These units are mobile and generate their own power, but they require fuel and regular maintenance. They also can produce a significant amount of noise and air pollution.
b. Electrical GPUs: Solid state single-phase, three-phase and battery powered GPUs provide the required power quietly, with no emissions, and minimal maintenance. They do, however, require access to power to operate.

3. Mobility/Portability: Diesel driven GPUs, while mobile, are not portable. Rectifier and battery powered units can be mobile, fixed, or portable even though they will need to be connected to a power source. Fixed GPUs are an excellent option if the aircraft are only maintained in a specific location, but mobile and portable GPUs are more versatile because they allow the user to take them where they are needed.

A ground power unit is a significant investment for any operator and choosing the correct unit for your specific needs can provide significant up-front savings, as well as on-going savings when it comes to time and operating costs.

In the market for a ground power unit for your aircraft? Contact us to discuss your options.