What kW generator do I need for my new x-ray system?

Mar 11, 2022 11:06:22 AM / by Melissa Schwab

What kW generator do I need for my new x-ray system? Important considerations when shopping for a new x-ray system

Buying a new x-ray system is an investment and can be overwhelming if you aren’t familiar with the components that make up an x-ray system and what your needs are. Customers often ask us about what size kW generator they need. The purpose of this article is to discuss x-ray generators and help give some insight as you consider what size generator you may need for your new system. For the sake of clarity, this article is going to focus on generators that are part of an installed x-ray room system and not portable x-ray systems. Also, this article is not geared towards x-rays systems that would be installed in a hospital or larger imaging center.  

What does the generator do on an x-ray machine?

The generator is the part of the x-ray machine that delivers power to the x-ray tube. This power is used to then produce x-rays in a predictable and defined manner. The generator allows the operator to select the x-ray energy (kVp), x-ray quantity or tube current (mA), exposure time, and focal spot size. The product of tube current and exposure time is known as mAs. These are often collectively referred to as the technique. Selecting the proper technique for the x-ray study is important to protect both the patient and the x-ray tube from possible overload situations. 

What is the difference between a 30kW, 40kW or 50kW generator?

I should start this section off by stating that a majority of our customers at Maven Imaging end up with ~ 30kW generators for their x-ray systems.  We find that this size is sufficient to meet the needs of most small-mid size practices and achieves good image quality for most types of studies, even lumbar shots with patients up to around 200 lbs. For practices that often take images of higher BMI patients (generally up to ~300lbs), or those that are frequently needing chest, lumbar or pelvis images, a 40kW generator may be a better choice to ensure you are able to clearly take x-ray images for most of your patients. In a high volume setting that is perhaps acting as an imaging center, frequently seeing higher BMI patients, or if the customer is wanting the best image quality possible and maybe doesn’t want to routinely refer out for higher BMI patients, then a 50kW or higher generator may be a good option. 

In addition to the change in power and image clarity afforded by the different kW generators, another important difference is the cost.  It’s probably not surprising to learn that the actual price of the x-ray system increases as the kW of the generator increases. Often other components of the x-ray system have to be upgraded when going to a higher kW generator for the system to be able to handle the extra power. Not only does the price increase on the generator itself as the kW increases, the upgraded components typically raise the cost of the x-ray system as well.   

Another key difference between the generators is the potential increase in cost associated with the electrical requirements and running the needed wiring for power for the generator. Going with a higher kW generator can significantly increase the cost of running electricity to the generator. A 30kW or 40kW generator can usually operate on a single-phase, 100 amp dedicated line, but a 50kW generator requires a 3-phase dedicated line to power the generator. It is important to make sure that you work with a licensed electrician to make sure you have the ability to run the needed power to the generator. 

How to decide?

Ultimately, the decision on what size generator you choose for your x-ray system typically depends on two key variables for most of our customers: how do you plan on using the x-ray system (think patient population & types of images you will need) and what is your budget (both for the machine itself and room build-out/electrical requirements)? Once you have a good understanding of what you need and what your budget is it is easier to determine what system will be best for you. 

Our team at Maven Imaging is happy to answer any questions you may have regarding digital x-ray systems. Please call us at (800)949-8015 or email us at sales@mavenimaging.com if you have any questions or need additional information. We look forward to helping you!


Melissa Schwab

Written by Melissa Schwab