Standby Generators: The Importance of Testing Your Power System
Your standby generator is an essential component of your business. It ensures that your operations will continue to run in the event of a complete power failure. However, if you are not using the power system all the time, you may not give it much thought until you actually need it. During those times, you want to ensure that the unit will power up and work reliably. The best way to do this is by exercising the power system. Here are some of the top reasons to test your standby generator.
Ensure It Runs at Full Capacity
Unless you’re experiencing a power emergency, you are not likely using your generator at full capacity. You may just rely on it during power failures, or maybe you only use it when your power requirements are at their lowest, such as overnight or on weekends. This may lead you to believe that your power system will work fine when you need it, but that may not be the case. You should participate in load bank testing to ensure the unit will be able to handle your full power needs during an outage.
During load bank testing, the unit is exercised at its full rated kW output while a technician checks important engine stats like:
- Fuel pressure
- Engine temperature
- Oil pressure
Operating temperatures and pressures should remain normal when your unit reaches full capacity. Overextending the unit can result in a host of problems, including overheating and system failure. If there is a discrepancy, your generator professional will inspect the unit and let you know what repairs may be needed in order to restore the unit to its optimal running condition.
Prevent Wet Stacking
If your generator is consistently being used far under its rated output, it may experience what is known as “wet stacking.” Wet stacking happens when unburned fuel and oil deposits travel through the exhaust and accumulate in the system. This buildup can greatly reduce the efficiency of the engine, which in turn adversely affects its usable lifespan. Exercising the unit regularly at full capacity will help prevent wet stacking as the engine burns off any excess fuel.
Extend the Generator’s Lifespan
Most commercial generators will last a long time—10, 20, or even 30 years—depending on factors like frequency of use and how well it was maintained over time. Testing your power system is an essential part of maintenance that must be done to maximize its lifespan. You should ensure that the entire standby power system is tested, including the transfer switch.
Along with exercising the unit at regular intervals, you should also remember to handle the other maintenance tasks that your power system might need. If your unit powers on but fails to run efficiently, it will increase your energy expenses and potentially reduce its expected lifespan. To get the most benefit from your standby generator, your generator specialist should complete the following maintenance duties:
- Oil change: It’s crucial to keep fresh oil circulating throughout your engine. Oil helps to clean, cool, and lubricate the engine so that its internal parts can work together seamlessly.
- Filter cleaning: You can usually clean the filter a few times without needing to change it completely. However, if the filter still appears dirty after cleaning, it’s best to replace it to enhance overall air flow in the system.
- Leak inspection: Hidden leaks can cost your company a lot of money in wasted energy as your system has to work harder for the same output. If you notice your system isn’t running as efficiently as it should be, it’s a good idea to have a leak inspection performed.
- Coolant refill: Your unit will have a recommended coolant range that you should never dip below. If your generator runs out of coolant, the system will overheat because it won’t be able to maintain a normal operating temperature as it runs. Overheating can result in full system failure.
- Fuel check: If you have a diesel-powered engine, you will have to ensure it has plenty of fuel to operate when you need it most. Avoid overfilling the unit, however, because the fuel will expand when it’s heated up. If the fuel spill over onto a hot engine, it could result in severe burns to anyone nearby.
- Clean exterior: A clean power system will help keep dirt and other debris from clogging your filter and wreaking havoc on your engine. Clean the exterior with a slightly damp cloth, and remember to avoid spraying water directly on the unit. Moisture exposure can lead to rust and corrosion that will break down your system much faster than intended.
How Often Should You Be Testing Your Standby Generator?
A standby generator may sit for months, even years, before it is actually needed. During that time, the unit could develop problems that you would not know about until you try to power it on. It’s recommended to run the generator once every 30 days for at least half an hour. This will exercise the power system to make sure it’s ready to go should a power outage occur at your facility. Running the power system monthly will also allow oil to circulate through the engine, which will keep its components nice and lubricated. A well-lubricated engine reduces friction and helps the unit run smoothly.
Your Local Power Partner in California
If you need help with your standby generator in California, look no further than the professionals from Valley Power Systems. We understand the importance of longevity when it comes to your commercial generator, and we provide a full range of services to ensure that your power system will work as expected. Our trained technicians can test your unit on a regular schedule and also provide any of the repairs it needs professionally.
Valley Power Systems is proud to partner with businesses throughout the state that need dependable power solutions for their buildings. Contact our office today to speak to a member of our friendly service team.