All about Ground Power Units

Ground power units, a crucial part of any hangar, are vehicles used to supply power to an aircraft parked on a runway or in a hangar. Every ground power unit, or GPU, provides a specified power through the use of an electrical system, a battery pack, and a gasoline, diesel, or small turbine engine. Since their inception, GPUs have allowed for ground support equipment to both become smaller and increase in efficiency. But what exactly does a GPU do, and what are the different types? This blog will explain the types of GPUs, their function, and mistakes to avoid when buying one.

Types and Functionof Ground Power Units

A GPU’s type is usually defined by two factors: its electrical system and its power source. The two most common types of electrical systems in GPUs are direct and alternating current systems. It is pivotal that the GPU you use is compatible with your type of aircraft. A direct current (DC) system is very similar to that of an automobile. DC ground power units are usually 12 or 24 volts and are used for general aircraft, smaller jets, and turboprops. Alternating current (AC) systems are more like the electrical system found in homes or other buildings. AC electrical systems run in the 400 Hz band and are needed for large business jets and commercial aircraft.

In regard to power sources, GPUs can either be powered by an internal combustion engine or electrical frequency converter. An electrical frequency converter is a type of converter used to change standard electrical power to AC or DC power. Which power source is best ultimately comes down to what you hope to get out of your GPU. Internal combustion engines have the benefit of being portable, but they also require fuel and more regular maintenance. Electrical GPUs are generally less powerful, but provide the benefits of being quieter and creating less pollution than their gas-powered counterparts.

When purchasing a GPU, there are a few mistakes you’ll want to avoid. While it’s always tempting to save money by opting for a lesser GPU, you will likely end up spending that extra money on repairs or replacement. GPUs are designed to last for a long time, so purchasing a top-quality model, though expensive, is usually the best route to take.

The most common mistakes when purchasing a GPU are buying a used model and over/under-purchasing. Used or refurbished GPUs are an attractive choice due to their lower cost, but inefficiencies and maintenance costs will not only cancel that out, but ultimately cost more. Like an engine, GPUs require regular maintenance. If your unit has underlying issues that increase the frequency of maintenance, the costs will add up quickly. Over- or under-purchasing your GPU can also be a costly error. For example, if you buy a large, powerful GPU for a small or medium-size aircraft, you are spending more money than necessary and therefore over-purchasing. Adversely, if you purchase a GPU that is too small for your aircraft, you won’t be able to use it and will essentially be throwing that money away.

Whatever type of GPU you buy, be sure you are getting it from a reputable source. For all types of ground power units and much more, look no further than NSN Fulfillment, a trusted supplier of parts for a wide range of industries. We are an online distributor of aircraft parts in addition to parts pertaining to the aerospace, civil aviation, defense, electronics, and IT hardware markets. We’re always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7-365. For a quick and competitive quote, call us at 1-914-359-2001 or email us at sales@nsnfulfillment.com.


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March 3, 2021
December 31, 2020

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