The role of an industrial standby generator is to provide a reliable source of power to your site during a power outage or when access to your mains supply is temporarily unavailable. The unavoidable and usually unpredictable nature of these occurrences means that it is essential to maintain your generator to an optimal standard, and ensure it is always ready to operate at peak performance. To avoid the costly and sometimes catastrophic consequences of having no power, it is essential to test your industrial generators routinely. The most comprehensive and accurate aspect of this preventative approach is a load bank test.
What is Load Bank Testing?
Load bank testing includes an examination and assessment of your generator. This strategic check verifies that all primary components of the unit are operating correctly and can continue to work under loaded conditions. The equipment involved in this process produces an artificial load that brings the unit to a specific temperature and pressure. A technician will administer this load before comparing the input and output levels. Any differentiation between these levels will identify an underlying issue within the unit. Load bank testing on a standby generator will indicate:
• The ability of the engine to provide the power required
• The capability of the alternator to provide the required voltage stability for the system
• The efficiency of control systems under different conditions of the load
• The stable frequency
• The pressure of oil and fuel
• Performance of the whole load bank system
How does a load bank test work?
During a load bank test, the generator is put under an artificial load. This test is timed, and the kW load is gradually increased in specific increments. Each time the kW load is increased, the test measures and records critical engine parameters, the generator’s ability to handle the boost, and the ability to continue functioning at the highest possible level for a sustained period. Placing a full capacity load on a generator and allowing it to run over a period will identify any issues within the generator, engine and cooling system. This test will also dislodge any build-ups in the combustion chambers and valves. The load bank test process is heavily dependent on the specific unit, usage and location. A basic overview is as follows:
All fluid levels within the generator are checked. Depending on the type of generator, these checks may include fuel, oil and coolant levels.
The generator is then started and run until it is at normal operating speed and temperature. During this period, the unit is monitored for any abnormal sounds or movements. If any problems are identified, the testing ceases until the issues are addressed and rectified.
Once the generator is running at normal operating speed, a specific and equal load is added to each leg. The amperage and voltage of each leg are then checked to ensure the charges fall within a designated range. If one or both legs drops below the required level, the generator has failed the test and needs repairs.
The generator is then monitored while maintaining this load. If no issues are identified, the pressure is gradually increased in specific increments and checked at each point. Throughout the process, the unit is closely observed for overheating, unusual noises and fluctuations in output. If a problem develops, the generator is shut down immediately to minimise damage and allow for the relevant repairs.
Once testing is complete, the loads are gradually removed, and the generator is run under a light load for a set period. A comprehensive report is then completed to detail the results and provide a reference point for further testing.
What are the benefits of load bank testing?
Load banking is a simple and effective way to maintain a generator and ensure the unit is always operating at optimal capacity. Proper and thorough testing will not only identify underlying issues and allow for appropriate repairs, but it will also remove any build-up of unburned fuel by enabling the unit to reach maximum operating temperature. An overview of the main benefits provided by this service are as follows:
• Verifies the generator capabilities and ability to run under a load for a set period, rather than just starting up
• Identifies underlying issues before any significant damage is caused, which significantly reduces the likelihood of unexpected costs and breakdowns
• Helps avoid wet stack and clears out carbon deposits
• Ensures the cooling system will operate under a load
• Provides the peace-of-mind that you can rely on your generator when it is needed
• Eases the effects of light loading by cutting through the residue that can result in wet stacking
Reactive Generators provides comprehensive, specialised and thorough standby generator testing. We work with our clients on an individual basis to determine their needs and goals before structuring a maintenance service that reflects their requirements. Operating across Queensland, we offer skilled technicians in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Ipswich. Get in touch with our friendly team to experience the Reactive Generators difference.