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How does a standby generator work?

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A standby generator is designed to provide a secondary source of power for a building or facility. Also known as an emergency generator or back up generator.

In the event of mains failure to a building the standby generator is remotely started and then switched over to feed the building loads until mains is restored.

In a fully automated system, this function is performed by an ATS (auto transfer switch). The ATS can be a separate panel or integrated into the building switchgear controls or generator controller.

In the majority of cases, the starting and transfer of the generator power is automatic, but sometimes it is done manually using a manual changeover switch.

How do I know my generator will start?

When the generator is not in use and waiting to be called into action, it is vital that the system is healthy with no alarms, the breakers are all closed and the starting battery is kept on charge.

Sometimes the smallest failure can prevent your generator from starting, such as failing to keep your fuel tank topped up! It is important to keep up to date with your fuel services.

It is also common to have an engine block heater connected to your standby generator that keeps your engine warm and prevents cold starting. Diesel engines can fail to start when they are cold, so this is an important consideration.

How often should I service my standby generator?

A standby generator is different to a prime or continuous loaded generator, as it is only called to run on load in an emergency situation. Sometimes standby generators are not run in an emergency situation for years…or even at all if the mains power is secure!

This means that it is imperative to perform routine checks and servicing to ensure that it remains 100% functional. We recommend at least 2 service visits per year for your standby generator to keep it in a fully functional state. At Solent Power we offer a generator service and maintenance to keep your generator running smoothly.

It is also recommended to perform mains fail tests, or black building tests at least annually to prove the control systems and that the standby generator can handle the building load.

If a building load test is not operationally possible, you can use a loadbank to prove the load acceptance of your generator. A loadbank is a ‘dummy load’ that connects to your generator to simulate your building being connected.

If you require help or support with your standby generator and need expert advice, please contact us at Solent Power and discuss your requirements and we will be happy to advise and accommodate.

Paul Phelps Solar Power Owner
Paul Phelps
Paul is the MD of Solent Power and specialises in emergency power solutions, helping to protect your facilities from power loss. Get in touch with us today to discuss the different power brands that we can offer and how they can suit your needs.
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