You may well ask why should I load bank a generator? Can I not just use the building load to test the generator? The answer is YES in that it is of course important that the generator supports any particular site specific load characteristics that could vary somewhat from the load of load bank. It also allows the building user to test the automatic changeover switching, which is a fundamental part and the possible weak link if it does not operate correctly. However it should be remembered that for emergency standby generators, the building load (even its peak load) will likely only be 50-60% of the generator’s maximum capacity in order to ensure the generator can support the entire building load straightaway. This means that not only is the generator not tested to full capacity but it introduces the potential risk of wet stacking. This is why the use of an external loadbank is advantageous.
Load bank testing allows a building user to verify the performance of emergency backup generators without interrupting business operations. This is especially important for mission critical facilities such as data centres and hospitals as it significantly reduces the business risk of a power failure. Ultimately, load bank testing provides you with tangible proof that the generator will support its full load if required. It also allows you to have full trust in your system. It’s not ideal to wait for a power cut, only to find that a minor issue at a critical time renders your entire power protection system useless.
When load banking a generator, it is useful to log all stages of the load bank test including the load, the timings and parameters such as the frequency, voltage, oil pressure and coolant temperature. This will provide you with written evidence of the testing and allows you to compare future tests, potentially highlighting issues before they become critical.
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