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Testing Backup Power Systems

UPS, generator, infrared

Hi. This is Chris Matt, Associate Editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today’s tip … preparing for power outages.

Large, system-wide blackouts are rare, but when they occur, they make headlines. Smaller outages related to equipment failure or storms are far more likely. In either situation, the end result is the same — the facility is without power.

How can managers help their facilities mitigate the effects of brownouts and blackouts? These suggestions help ensure backup systems will operate properly when needed:

Generator testing. Frequent and thorough testing of emergency generators should simulate an outage if the facility process permits. Instead of punching the test button on an automatic transfer switch, throw the main breaker off. If possible, do this during peak use and record those departments that are most adversely affected.

UPS testing. UPS also should be inspected and tested. While full-load tests might not be possible, partial testing and the use of online battery-cell-monitoring systems helps ensure power will be there when needed.

Finally, infrared testing. This photographic technique is extremely useful in identifying hot spots with potential for imminent failure. Best results occur when systems are heavily loaded.

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