Developing a high level of confidence in an electrical infrastructure can lead to a stronger sense of system ownership and trust that it will respond as designed.
SIDEBAR: Backup Basics-Testing, Testing
Understanding applications can help managers ensure power system reliability.
While a comprehensive list of recommended testing steps for generators and UPS systems in institutional and commercial facilities requires a major commitment of time and energy, basic testing of these essential systems can be beneficial.
For generator systems, minimum testing should include:
- complete visual inspection of generator and auxiliary system components
- full-load, transient-response testing with power quality analysis
- startup timing and engine-ramp rate testing and full-load burn-in with infrared thermography
- full warning and shutdown testing, locally and at the building management system or electrical power monitoring system
- auxiliary system testing, including redundant starter testing
- testing required by the National Fire Protection Agency or other local authorities.
For UPS systems, minimum testing should include:
- complete visual inspection of components, including battery systems and maintenance-bypass components
- full-load, transient-response testing while on inverter with power-quality monitoring powered by the utility and the generator
- full-load burn with infrared thermography
- rectifier walk-in timing and verification
- complete battery discharge with battery monitoring
- bypass transfer sequence and interlock testing
- full alarm and status indication testing, locally and at the building management system or electrical power monitoring system
- power-saving and efficiency-mode testing and failure response.
Specifying these tests can give managers a basic level of confidence in generators and UPS systems. And while comprehensive testing of these systems at the component and system level requires a greater commitment, managers and facilities should at least consider its benefits, which include increased energy efficiency. But even basic-level testing can help managers understand and trust system capabilities, and it can minimize risk and protect critical loads.