Hopefully your business has a backup plan in case of emergencies, power outages, and natural disasters. Having a standby generator is a great way to ensure that your business is operational, and any refrigerated or power-sensitive products you may have are safe. However like any major equipment, power generators require regular maintenance, even (or especially!) if they are only used once or twice a year.
Power generators and commercial standby generators have fluids including lube oils, water, coolants, and fuel. Like with your car, it’s important to make sure that these fluids don’t become contaminated, run out, leak, or dry out over time. More importantly, the debris in these fluids give indication of possible problems with the generator. Your technician will run tests, and depending on the results will recommend maintenance before there is any damage to the generator or major repair issues.
Why it’s so important: Fluid testing doesn’t just ensure that your generator is topped off on all of the vitals, but it also indicates potential issues that may become costly problems.
Power Failure Simulation
When the lights shut out, you want your generator to kick in and take over seamlessly. A power failure simulation will not only make sure that your power generator is working, but that it is connected to everything vital to your operations. Power failure simulations are best done after hours or during a slow period, and involves the shutdown of power. There is usually a 10 second delay as the generator kicks in (unless you have a battery UPS system). It is wise to turn on all of the equipment your business uses to make sure that the generator can handle the load.
Why it’s so important:Power failure simulations don’t just make sure that the generator works, but that the generator and all of its components are ready to take over the equipment that you require to run your business.
Load Bank Testing
It is recommended that you have a load bank testing performed at least once a year. Its purpose is to verify the functionality of your generator under load, but it can also help to clear out carbon deposits in the exhaust. During a load bank test, the load bank will be set up with cable connections to the transfer switch (or generator), and a resistive load will be applied. The load will be incrementally increased, and the technician will record the results. The Power Systems Plus website provides a more detailed example of exactly what to expect for a load bank test.
Why it’s so important: Load bank testing has two main functions: cleaning the generator and ensuring that it can reach its load potential.
It is recommended that you have most services performed at least annually, but some businesses that have critical requirements like hospitals and care facilities have these tests performed on a weekly or monthly basis (you can see the requirements for Idaho healthcare facilities here.) Generator servicing may be something that is commonly overlooked, but it is so vital if you expect your backup power to be up and running when disaster strikes.