The Importance of Load Bank Testing for Your Industrial Generator
Industrial operations are reliant on their power supply to continue functioning. So how do you ensure that your power supply will continue to operate properly? Especially your backup generators—which you don't use regularly.
Load bank testing is an essential part of the picture and critical to truly understanding how your power supply is performing and how an emergency power supply would perform if called upon. Below, we share several reasons why your industrial generators require load bank testing.
What is Load Bank Testing?
A load bank is a piece of equipment that can provide an electrical load to electrical power sources. This includes power sources commonly used in industrial settings, such as diesel generators and uninterruptible power supplies. By applying an electrical load to your equipment, the load bank gives you real feedback about how the equipment is working. It is the best way to verify that a generator can handle the real demands it may be put under, including producing maximum power, without actually having it do so.
As you can imagine, load bank testing is essential where performance matters. Nothing should have its first test in the field, never mind in emergency conditions like power interruptions.
There are different types of load banks which are suitable for different situations. They include:
- Resistive load banks: These load banks can fully load generators to 80% of their maximum kW rating. They will also fully load the generator's exhaust, fuel and cooling system, which means you are testing the generator as a whole. Resistive load banks are typically for AC units, although you can also find generators meant for DC units.
- Inductive load banks: When you add an inductive load bank to a resistive load bank, you can also perform a lagging power factor load test on the generator, which allows you to load the generator to 100% of its maximum kW rating.
- Capacitive load banks: Capacitive load banks provide a leading power factor test, which is the opposite of inductive load banks. They are used in conjunction with a resistive load bank and increase the PF to above unity.
- Resistive reactive (combined) load banks: These load banks combine resistive and inductive action in one, which makes them highly convenient to test generators to 100% of the kW rating. You can also use these load banks to only apply resistive load banks or inductive load banks if you need them.
The Importance of Industrial Load Bank Testing
For almost all industrial facilities, load bank testing is not optional. Local and national regulations may require you to do load bank testing, particularly of your emergency power system. If not, you can skip it, but it is likely that your operation and business will suffer as a result. That's because load bank testing saves you the stress and financial costs of interrupted power and generator issues down the road.
Those facilities where power is required to prevent loss or harm to people are typically required to perform load bank testing. This includes places like hospitals and healthcare facilities. Even if your industrial facility would not endanger human lives without power, codes may still require you to perform load bank testing on a regular basis. We can advise you as to what your local codes may require.
For industrial operations, load bank testing:
- Prevents the failure of the generator and can alert you to issues with the generator
- Helps remove fuel from diesel-powered generators to prevent wet stacking
- Verifies that your backup generator will work when you experience power loss
Without load bank testing, you may be scrambling to deal with power loss and incur significant losses or even health and safety issues. If you run a diesel generator, as many industrial operations do, load bank testing will prevent damage to this valuable equipment so that you do not have to repair or replace it early. It is important to know that automatic generator exercising does not fulfill this need, as the generator is not under load. Wet stacking can cause serious issues with the generator's performance, and the issue must be prevented.
In short, load bank testing is essential for industrial generator safety and performance.
Load Bank Testing Procedure
What is the procedure for testing your generator with a load bank? It's not simply to turn on the load bank and see what happens. The typical procedure starts with understanding and following manufacturer recommendations. That includes testing all fuel and liquid levels first before initiating the test. When you do, it is more like turning the load bank on and slowly increasing the load. At each interval, it is important to test the overall function of the generator and ensure that it is working well before increasing the load.
How Often Should You Load Bank Test a Generator
So you know that you are required to load bank test your equipment. But how often do you need to do it to have confidence in your power system and prevent issues like wet stacking? It depends. Many regulations will determine how often you need to test your generator, which may be at least once a month.
If you need to test your equipment regularly and need a large load bank to do so, it may be best to purchase or rent one and have it at your facility at all times. Smaller industrial operations or those with a reduced need for load bank testing may instead wish to rent a portable load bank and bring it on-site only when it is to be used.
Load Banks from 24/7 Compression
Reach out to 24/7 compression to discuss your industrial operation's need for load banks and load bank testing. We can lend you our expertise to ensure that you end up with the right load bank for your needs.