A variety of industries use backup generators to guard against the adverse impact of inevitable utility service interruptions. At some point in the life of mission-critical electrical systems, operators will experience outages resulting from system interruption or partial interruption.
By conducting regular, rigorous load bank testing on backup generator systems, problems can be uncovered in a controlled environment and addressed more easily than when these issues arise during actual power outages.
But there is not just one type of load bank to choose from in the marketplace; there are hundreds! So how do you select a load bank solution that is right for your generator testing needs? Following is your guide to selecting the right type of load bank for generator testing.
Industry-Specific Generator Load Bank Testing Solutions
A diverse array of industries uses load banks for testing backup generators and emergency power systems. Selecting the proper load bank testing solution to meet industry-specific requirements is the first step, in many of these cases, toward achieving a successful commissioning process or preventative maintenance cycle.
The most vital use of load bank testing, perhaps, occurs in sectors such as healthcare and data centers, where outages to essential electric systems (EES) could have disastrous effects on mission-critical components and interrupt critical care for patients.
Nuclear power plants, commercial building construction, and maritime projects also rely heavily on load bank testing to ensure backup generator performance when needed. In each case, generators benefit from testing with either reactive load banks, or resistive load banks which do an excellent job of simulating real-world conditions.
The testing process for grid emulation involves simulating the circuit emergency performance by making gradual load adjustments.
Load Bank Types
The type of load bank used to test your generator or generator set will depend on the range of tests needed and the applications involved. Here are some important questions to ask before selecting a load bank include:
- Are you testing as part of a commissioning process or for general maintenance?
- Is the load resistive, reactive/inductive, or capacitive?
- What is the magnitude of load steps you desire during the test?
- How many generation sources will be synchronized on the same system?
Once your team establishes the parameters of their project, you can begin selecting the best load bank for the job.
Resistive and Reactive Load Bank Testing
Resistive load banks are the most common type of load bank used to test resistive loads during electrical system testing. Direct current (DC) resistive load banks may be used to test UPS systems’ batteries and DC generators, while alternating current (AC) load banks are used to test a variety of power supply systems, up to 5 MW and can be combined to 100MW..
Depending on the scale and scope of your project, ComRent’s load bank testing experts will recommend one of several packages designed to perform generator testing. For data centers, we suggest using either a K975A 2.5-megawatt, outdoor resistive unit mounted on a 40–48-foot trailer or a 6.25 MVA resistive/reactive outdoor unit.
The smaller-capacity load bank has the benefit of being able to be utilized independently or as a modular piece of a larger system. Both these units and the 6.25 MVA units are designed for 480-volt operation. Highly engineered and purpose-built, each load bank delivers stable load testing, operating at a fraction of their maximum temperature rating. This stability eliminates the need for a costly “cool-down” period after each stage of testing.
Nuclear power plant testing, however, operates at different parameters and benefits from higher resolution of resistive/reactive units such as the CR6.0 Froment or the CR1.8 Crestchic. These load banks maximize efficiency and are cost-effective with the use of a hand-held remote controller. Groups of up to 50 load banks can be programmed to operate simultaneously or in stages from one another. This pre-programming can take place at any time prior to testing.
How to Make the Decision to Rent vs. Buy
The decision of whether to rent or purchase reactive or resistive load banks for testing generators depends largely upon three factors: convenience, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. Renting load banks has become the preferred option for many data centers, healthcare organizations, and renewable energy clients.
ComRent is a world leader in load bank rental services, and we recommend you consider renting for your next electrical system testing for the following reasons.
- A rental rate includes full maintenance. There is no need to pay for repairs, spare parts, or recordkeeping.
- There is no need to consider storage space for your load bank. ComRent is your warehouse.
- Renting removes liability from your expenses and you are not responsible for personal or property taxes on the unit.
- Always test with the latest equipment. No need to buy the latest load bank or try to get by using old, outdated equipment.
- Save money on buying that you can invest in other parts of your business.
If you are preparing to load test your project’s generator or generator set with portable load banks, either for commissioning or regular maintenance, and have questions, contact us today.
ComRent specializes in delivering the most efficient and cost-effective load bank solution for any project. One of our load bank experts will solve your load bank testing needs.