NFPA 110 Generator Testing Safeguards against Improper System Operation

NFPA 110 regulations set the standard for ensuring proper operation of Emergency Power Supply Systems (EPSS’s). A generator must be ready to power a building under critical circumstances. Testing of parts, such as the automatic transfer switch (ATS), makes certain this particular system can perform efficiently when electricity is not available. NFPA 110 generator testing recommends monthly evaluation of all main EPSS components. For example, the automatic transfer switch examination entails switching between the standard and alternating positions. The generator must also have a test run each month to meet these analysis guidelines. This can easily be done by using the ATS test goggle while the system is not in operation. One can determine if the generator is turning on and running appropriately before the load is transferred to the building.

Emergency Power Generation: Why is a Monthly System Test Recommended?

Emergency power generation allows critical systems in your building to continue operating. Generators also provide backup lighting and other safety items when a disaster has occurred. Neglected maintenance can be devastating to your business in many ways. A failed EPSS will completely halt business processes, and could lead to people being injured in your building. Monthly testing is a requirement by the NFPA for multiple reasons. The test serves as an active demonstration of intended functionality being present. If a component fails, it is better to know when the main power source is available than to find out during a time when the backup source is needed. Failed components can be replaced and have proper operations verified at a time when their use is not critical.

The ATS, like other emergency power generation components, is categorized as an electromechanical device containing multiple moving parts. These parts can become locked in one position if their operations are not utilized over a long period of time. Testing makes certain all moving generator parts sustain smooth operations. An EPSS typically runs on diesel gas. Diesel engines do not perform well with light loads. NFPA standards for larger diesel generators recommend monthly load testing to be performed at a minimum of half the maximum capacity. This process prevents carbon buildup in the EPSS cylinders and the exhaust system, which, if unchecked, can lead to reduced power efficiency and fire risks.

Even with these potential problems present, you may be debating whether or not to have NFPA 110 generator testing completed. It is a common misperception that these tests reduce the overall life of the EPSS. Brief power interruptions also make many owners reluctant to have the evaluation performed. Equipment, computers, transformers and other load sensitive items can experience problems during switch performance evaluation. The possible risks involved may be alarming, but these problems would be much more inconvenient during an actual emergency.

If you prepare for monthly testing, it will not hinder daily operations, though you may want to have the test performed during lunch or shift changes. It is an important process for having a reliable on-site EPSS. Prime Power professionals can accommodate the necessary scheduling restrictions of your building. Call us today to schedule monthly testing for all major EPSS components. We will make certain your generator is available any time electricity is interrupted.

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2 Responses to “NFPA 110 Generator Testing Safeguards against Improper System Operation”

  1. Eric February 6, 2013 at 11:50 am #

    If you have multiple ATS switches for a single generator, does each switch need to be tested monthly? I know they do annually…thanks

  2. Prime Power August 9, 2013 at 12:47 am #

    We recommend that the customer rotate each month and conduct the test on a different ATS.

    The answer to your question is no.

    But we always preach rotating the ATS to ensure each one can sense the loss of power, start the generator, confirm the generator is up to proper voltage and frequency, transfer to generator, monitor the utility, and when it returns transfer back to normal source, and then cool down the generator.

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