No Power Means No Business: Here's Why Testing A Generator Is Not Enough

10 December 2015
 Categories: , Blog

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If you run a commercial enterprise, you need to know that your generator will turn on when the electricity goes out. If you have a grocery store or restaurant, you need to be able to meet health codes by running refrigerators, freezers, and ovens. If you have a shop, you want to maintain a safe environment for customers and employees and protect your property during a blackout. Offices need to be able to communicate with customers and fill orders or business will suffer.

You probably power up the generator occasionally to make sure it will come on when you need it and keep your business from grinding to a halt. While commercial generators need to be tested regularly for business to continue and to provide public safety, relying on testing alone can create problems. Here's why a commercial generator needs regular maintenance as well.

Wet-Stacking

When a generator sits idle for long periods, only powers a light load or runs in short bursts—for example, during a test—it's not good for the engine. Fuel and soot will accumulate in the exhaust system and result in a dangerous condition called wet-stacking. The buildup is a sticky coating that will continue to accumulate, and when the accumulation gets too thick it can make the generator run less efficiently. This means that it may not be able to supply the necessary amount of power when it's critical to do so. Wet-stacking is also a serious fire hazard because the fuel and soot can ignite, and in many cases it can damage generator components. Maintenance can check for wet-stacking and fix any problems that might cause the generator to fail.

Load Bank Testing

A load bank test is also part of a thorough maintenance call. This test does more than verify that the generator is functional and will kick on during a power outage. During a load bank test the generator is subjected to an artificial electric load for a specified amount of time. Each time the kilowatts are increased the technician measures its function, the engine parameters and how it can handle a high load for an extended amount of time.

It is run at a high load for several reasons. First, it has to be able to handle the maximum load that it would handle in real-life conditions. Second, running it at a high load burns off any wet-stacking that may have developed. This not only makes sure the generator will handle any power outage, but also helps keep it in good working order.

Testing a commercial generator is an important part of being prepared for emergencies like blackouts and severe weather. Electricians recommend that you schedule maintenance and a load bank test at least once per year. This is even more important if you have rarely used your generator and you only have it for standby purposes. If you don't have any record of your last load bank test, contact a commercial generator repair service to schedule one. They can also provide you with a rental or loaner generator in case yours needs extensive service. This can help keep your employees safe, preserve perishable inventories and keep your business up and running when the power goes out.