(Teddy is hurt because YOU failed to follow the procedures to keep your backup generator operating correctly.)
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 to you but, there will already be hundreds of folks waiting in line. Be prepared to wait a long time.
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 help during a broad power outage. The big companies have technicians to service heavy trucks and road construction equipment, but few are trained to service generators. And, very few are qualified to service automatic transfer switches.
The following articles will give you a leg up.
You can follow fire code, train your staff, inspect and test your emergency power system 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:
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 a higher than normal or A/C voltage when the battery is disconnected. This unexpected voltage can damage the generator control. You can find a caution about this in most generator owner’s manuals. This precaution should be observed every time no matter who build the generator.
When you buy batteries:
- Check the factory stamp. 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. 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 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.
Also, follow the link to “Ten Electro Commandments“
Transfer Switches are a vital component to your Emergency Power System. This video will explain how a transfer switch operates. You may not have the same transfer switch controller that is described in this video, but the sequence of operation is the same across all transfer switches.
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.
If you find this information helpful please visit our Facebook Page and give us a like! Stay up to date with new posts we make and don’t forget to put us in your favorites! Also, join our Facebook Group where like minded individuals can have discussions related to automatic emergency power systems.
Follow us here:
All information expressed by Standby Power Solutions, LLC or its officers is strictly the opinion of Standby Power Solutions, LLC.
Standby Power Solutions, LLC disclaims any liability for any personal injury, property, or other damages of any nature whatsoever, whether special, indirect, consequential, or compensatory directly or indirectly resulting from the publication, use of, or reliance on this website or any information derived thereof. Standby Power Solutions, LLC also makes no guaranty or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained herein. Anyone using this website should rely on his or her own independent judgment, or as appropriate, seek the advice of a competent professional in determining the exercise of reasonable care in any given circumstances. ©2021 by Standby Power Solutions, LLC. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without express written permission.