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While not all black smoke can be eliminated, it can be significantly reduced. EGSA members recommend the following 10 solutions for older emergency gensets:
Servicing emergency generator sets is not simply changing the oil and filters periodically.
"The minute you look at emergency generator set maintenance as an oil change, you are setting yourself up for failure," cautions Bob Piske, president of Arizona Generator Technology, Inc., dba GenTech. "You need a technician that understands that, in emergency standby generation, emergency is the key word," says Piske.
EGSA-certified technicians know the principles of power generation, the engines involved and most importantly the criticality of that equipment. EGSA certification indicates the technician has passed a rigorous test on every aspect of power generation, has a thorough understanding of emergency generator sets, and can recognize potential weak links.
"They know where to look, what to check, what to look at, and service for all makes of emergency gensets," says Piske. "Requiring your techs be EGSA certified in your bid specifications is critical. EGSA-certified technicians understand the system as a whole and how each segment relates to the others. EGSA-certified technicians understand the hazards involved, where potentially dangerous areas are, and that knowledge helps keep your facility reliable and personnel safe."
Health care facilities accredited by The Joint Commission are required to test their emergency gensets once a month. "Facilities personnel want to make sure that monthly test is perfect, so they often will simply start up the units 10 or 15 days before actual test day and then after test, simply record that they started (passed) or didn't start (failed)," explains Bhavesh Patel, director of marketing for ASCO Power Technologies.
Patel suggests skipping these nuisance tests, opting instead for proper recordkeeping of the monthly tests. "There are tools to capture more than pass/fail results. These tools can also be used to do forensics, allowing more proactive maintenance," says Patel.
He also suggests testing emergency gensets at fuller loads. "If you start your car in the garage, you know it starts, but you don't know if the whole car works," explains Patel. "But if you drive it around the block, you'll know far more about its performance when you need that car."
Similarly, testing emergency gensets with fuller loads on them offers more meaningful information on how those gensets will perform when they are critically needed.
To reduce wet stacking, use less diesel fuel and reduce the smoking exhausts, facility managers can reduce the running time per exercise cycle, maintains Patel.
"Many emergency generator sets seldom reach operating temperature because they are routinely tested without load," he says. Patel recommends exercising the genset with an electrical load. "The engine will quickly reach an efficient operating temperature and it provides a more complete test of the system, not just the engine," he says.
EGSA Member Recommend Solutions To Prevent Older Generators From Smoking