While both a load test and a load bank are essential components of properly maintaining a generator it is essential to know the key differences between the two.
Regular checks of your generator are essential to feeling confident that in the event of a power outage it will do the job it is designed for. These checks should include load tests to ascertain whether the emergency power system you have in place will transfer efficiently when an outage occurs.
A Load Bank, on the other hand, is a test that verifies that the power your generator will supply in an outage will be sufficient to address your building’s needs. It will also verify whether your generator is in good condition to continue to supply power for long enough for power to be restored. Such tests should be conducted weekly or monthly advises Foxfab, an expert in the industry for decades.
Load Bank – A Load Bank is a device that can be used by a technician to apply a load to a generator to test it artificially. A large heater is typically used for this. This test does not involve the building’s normal power supply in any way so cannot cause any disruption to business operations.
How it Works – Under the monitoring of a qualified technician load is systematically added to the generator manually using the heater. The load is gradually increased at specific intervals with one element being switched on at a time. At each interval the generator is assessed to ensure it is managing the load, and mechanical issues are checked for at the same time.
Any issues such as belt wear, excessive exhaust smoke, and fluid leaks will be discovered during testing. A record is taken of each change in oil pressure, temperature, battery voltage, volts, amperes, hours and kW. Once the test has been completed the recordings are analyzed to highlight any potential problems and assess the overall state of the generator.
Reasons to Conduct a Load Bank
Thick black smoke is evidenced when the generator is running – This is typically caused by a buildup of oil and carbon around the turbo and exhaust manifolds, which in turn reduces power. A Load Bank allows the generator to run hard so that any buildup and/or residue burns off.
Determining Emergency Capability – If you are a Level 1 or 2 facility and your generator shows itself to not be capable of reaching at least 30% of its rated kW during routine load testing then a Load Bank may be necessary to verify whether the generator will perform during a real outage.
Confirm kW Output – You need to know what your generator is capable of handling in an emergency situation so that you know what you can safely run during an outage. A Load Bank will confirm the kW output of your generator.
If my generator is running just fine why do I need to have a Load Bank test conducted?
Though your generator may have performed well on routine monthly load tests, a Load Bank will verify it is capable of handling your power needs in the event of an outage. It is much better to know before an outage than to find out it lacks capability during an outage.
Will business operations be disrupted while a Load Bank test is conducted?
Load Bank tests are typically carried out in such a way that business can continue as usual without disruption. Tests are not carried out during wet or stormy weather to prevent damaging equipment. In the rare event that an outage does occur the technician can easily reconnect the generator to restore power to the building.
Will a Load Bank cause damage to my generator?
A Load Bank test does not push your generator beyond the same capability as it would be expected to have during a real outage. If for any reason something does go wrong it is highly likely that it would have occurred during a real outage anyway. One of the major reasons for running a Load Bank test is to discover potential issues and rectify them before the generator is called upon to provide emergency power. When it happens, the qualified technician running the test will be able to affect repairs immediately.