How Often Should You Exercise Your Commercial Generator?

How Often Should You Exercise Your Commercial Generator?

Has your building been affected by a sudden power outage, leaving you to find that the backup generator won’t start up or breaks down halfway through the blackout? If you’ve been in this situation, you know the effects can include productivity loss, safety hazards, panic, and costly repairs or replacements. You also see the importance of having a reliable backup or emergency power source. 

Fortunately, there are ways to lessen the chances of a generator giving in and leaving your building in the dark. Exercising your generator is one of the best solutions for mitigating power supply faults and dark days. 

What Does It Mean to Exercise a Generator?

Exercising a generator means running it when idle to test if it’s working. For example, you can run a generator for a set time weekly or monthly and then check components like the engine and oil pressure. Generator exercising can also involve testing a generator under load to see if it performs in power outages or poor weather. 

Why Exercise Your Commercial Generator? 

Exercising a generator ensures that it is working effectively. It is also vital for preventing damage and wear and extending your generator’s life span. Generator testing can help plan for unforeseen circumstances and keep a business or facility productive. The following are some benefits of exercising a commercial generator.

Minimize Disruptions and Downtime

Without proper testing, a generator’s condition can degrade over time, causing it to stop working or malfunction. If there’s a sudden blackout and the generator you’re relying on fails to power your facility, you face lost productivity and revenue. 

Prevent Damage

When generator fuel drops below a certain level, it can cause wet-stacking, or moisture buildup in the exhaust. Wet-stacking can damage the fuel injectors and compromise generator function. Exercising your commercial generator is an opportunity to check for fuel buildup and oil degradation and perform scheduled maintenance to lessen the chance of breakdowns. 

Be Emergency-Ready 

Generators sometimes have to work overtime to power a building and its operations, especially in extreme heat or cold. Hot weather can overheat electrical power sources, causing widespread outages. These outages can last days, weeks or even months. A business needs to be productive through it all — that’s where a backup generator comes in. 

If a generator is inactive for a long time, it can develop damage and technical faults you are unaware of. These may cause the generator to give out in a few days, not start up at all or even pose a fire risk, leaving your business powerless and unproductive. Regular testing will help you fix faults ahead of time and plan for emergencies. 

Extended Life Span

Commercial generators are often larger than residential types. Generator voltage capacity can depend on building, factory or warehouse size. Powerful generators have more capable engines and components to provide sufficient voltage for electrical load. While these generators can be costly, they can last a lifetime with proper maintenance. When you test a generator often, you can prevent the need for major repairs and expensive replacements. 

Comply With Maintenance Standards

Depending on a business or facility type, you might need to comply with backup generator state codes and inspection standards. For example, agricultural or food and beverage industries might need a backup power supply to keep their products fresh during power outages. If you live in a region prone to natural disasters, you can experience extended power outages. Generator exercising is essential for ensuring facilities have a reliable backup or emergency power supply. 

How Often Should You Exercise Your Commercial Generator?

When to Exercise a Commercial Generator

The best interval to exercise a commercial generator is weekly. While 30 minutes each month is the standard exercise time, generator run time can depend on manufacturer instructions. It can also depend on whether you’re testing a generator with or without an electrical load. 

The National Fire Protection Association offers standards for maintaining backup or emergency power supplies. You can exercise a generator weekly and run a load or performance test monthly. Generator load performance tests typically last longer than weekly exercising. 

How to Exercise a Commercial Generator

Exercising commercial generators can involve testing with and without load. It also includes running tests at appropriate times and complying with local air district requirements. To keep your generator in the best possible condition, use these weekly appointments to check the components for wear and perform scheduled maintenance as well. 

Change Load Circumstances

To assess generator performance, test it without load and gradually add load to see how it performs in numerous circumstances. Test various facility power sources and add load progressively. 

For example, you can start by turning on the building lights, machinery, automated garage doors and other elements. In power outages, businesses often rely on a backup power supply to support their entire facility, so the generator should be able to handle the necessary load. 

Comply With Run Time Requirements

When you exercise a generator, you must be mindful of local air quality standards and run times. Even if your region doesn’t have specific limitations on generator run times, you must adhere to the standard times at a minimum. Diesel generator testing has a minimum run time requirement of 30 minutes per month per the NFPA’s 110 standard. This time standard applies when:

  • Testing complies with manufacturers’ minimum exhaust gas temperature recommendations.
  • Testing is within operating temperature and less than 30% of the emergency power supply kW rating. 

You can automate your generator run times to comply with local testing time limits. Set your facility generator to start up on different days of the week and program test times according to regulations and manufacturer instructions. 

Inspect Generator Components 

When testing a generator, inspect the components to ensure every part is functional. Schedule maintenance to prevent further damage or breakdowns if you notice any wear or warning signs. Generator inspection measures can include the following:

  • Check the oil pressure 
  • Listen to the engine for any abnormal sounds and vibrations
  • Check for any alarms and warning signs
  • Inspect the generator for leaks like oil and fuel
  • Ensure that the voltage and frequency are stable 
  • Check the fuel transfer

How Often Should You Exercise Your Commercial Generator?

Exercise Your Generator With Help From Industrial Electrical Company 

You need to know your generator is ready to perform during power outages or emergencies, so regular generator exercising is crucial to ensure optimal performance and prevent breakdowns. That’s why Industrial Electrical Company provides industrial and commercial generator testing and predictive maintenance to help you plan for emergencies and stay productive.

We are a comprehensive electrical service provider for your power supply. Our services include load bank testing, system repair and servicing, automatic switch maintenance repair and certified factory retrofits. We answer your calls 24 hours a day so you can stay ahead of your power supply testing and maintenance needs. 

Contact us today to learn more about our services.



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