(Teddy is hurt because YOU failed to follow the procedures to keep your backup generator operating correctly.)
What Happens During a Power Outage
This video will explain the sequence of operation for when utility power fails and the backup generator kicks on. Take a look
When you have a generator failure during catastrophic conditions like hurricanes, grid failure, ice storm, or a cyberattack there will be no help for you. Call your generator company. Then you can get on the queue and wait until they get around to you but, there will already be hundreds of folks waiting in line. Be prepared to wait a long time.
The sad fact is that even the big names in standby power have extremely limited technical staff. Most have only a handful of qualified personnel to deal with hundreds of calls for generator help during a broad power outage. The big companies have technicians to service heavy trucks, power train, and road construction equipment, but few are trained to service generators. And, very few are qualified to service automatic transfer switches.
Use this interactive chart.
How to Avoid Emergency Generator Failures
Follow fire code, train your staff, inspect and test your emergency power systems according to NFPA 110 provisions to reduce failures to a bare minimum. If a failure does occur, your own staff, having been trained, are likely to be able to correct the issue and restore service.
Most of the failures during emergency conditions in my experience result from failure to prepare. In order to correct these issues, you will first need to acquire a “Wayback” machine. Get into the Wayback machine and go back to download my Generator Inspection Checklist. Then do it.
Most failures just do not happen if you follow NFPA 110, chapter 8 procedures. The check list allows you to find problems before you have an emergency.
Failing that, try these suggestions:
Make sure the generator control switch is in “Automatic” or at least turned on.
Check for alarm lights or LCD display failure indications. Clear these. Here is an example: https://youtu.be/Dyi9Lv3Nc-Q
It is surprising how often we find the generator is just out of fuel. Check the fuel. Also, make sure all fuel valves are turned on.
Batteries are the next most common issue. Batteries should be changed at least every three years.
If the generator fails to start, check the battery voltage. Most generator control panels stop the cranking cycle when the battery voltage drops to around 9VDC for 12-volt systems or 18VDC for 24-volt systems. This can be misleading if you are expecting the generator to crank slowly.
Battery Specific Gravity and Conductance Tests
How to use a Multi Meter to Check Your Batteries
Also, many control panels give you false indications when the battery voltage drops.
– Over Crank
– Over Speed
– RPM sensor loss
– There are others!
These can all mean low battery voltage. To correct this, make sure the engine coolant heater is working and the block is warm then replace the battery. I have often found that is all that is needed.
When you change batteries always disconnect the factory provided battery charger!
Many battery chargers produce an unusual voltage when the battery is disconnected. This unexpected voltage can damage the generator control. You can find a caution about this in most generator owners’s manuals. This precaution should be observed every time no matter who built the generator.
When you buy batteries:
– Check the factory stamp. (All batteries are stamped with the fill date from the factory. If it does not have this stamp, do not buy it.) New batteries should not be on the store’s shelf more for than two months. If the store manager cannot give you a fill date, find another store.
– Buy the heaviest battery that will physically fit into the battery rack. Batteries are lead and acid. Lead and acid are heavy. The heavier the battery, the longer it will crank. Ignore the warranty.
– Clean and tighten or if indicated replace battery terminals and cables.
Breakers and Switches
The generator should have one or more big breakers to control output. You will find these on the back or side of the generator output box. Make sure the breakers are closed. Otherwise, the transfer switch cannot transfer the load.
Finally, and I hate to say this, make sure all necessary control switches are turned on.
Transfer Switches for Emergency Generators
One of the vital aspects of Emergency Procedures is understanding how to transfer power to the generator in the event the Transfer Switch Fails. Your facility is required to have staff knowledgeable on how to manually transfer power to the generator. (NFPA 110 Page 13, Chapter 6, 6.2.4 Manual Operation– “Instruction and equipment shall be provided for safe manual nonelectric transfer in the event the transfer switch malfunctions.“
NFPA 110 Page 20, Chapter 8, 8.4.8– “The routine maintenance and operational testing program shall be overseen by a properly instructed individual.”)
For more information view the video.
Resetting Event on Control Panel
Your control panel on your emergency generator might be one of these. This video for the Powerwizard 1.0 will walk you through the steps on how to reset a event.
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