Standby generators are required to combat power outages. These are convenient and easy to use but can be hazardous to life and property. It is important to follow proper standards, procedures and adequate precautions during installation, operation and maintenance of the power generators. It is recommended to create a safe working environment by consulting the manufacturer, reading manuals and following guidelines. Safety practices not only ward off hazards but also increase quality and service life of the equipment.
The safety of generators depends on several sections starting from the selection to maintenance. Any mistake might lead to a serious hazard.
The selection depends on the number of apparatus that need to be energized in case of power failure. According to the demanded constant wattage and surge rating, the generator is selected.
Authorized, qualified and certified technicians and engineers who have the knowledge of generators, safety codes and standards must be employed. The installation process must satisfy NFPA 110 information on ‘Standards for Emergency and Standby Power System’.
In operational condition, the generator exhausts fumes (poisonous gas like Carbon monoxide) need to be ventilated properly. The area should be free from any combustible material.
Regular inspection and periodic maintenance of generator parts, cables’ connection and batteries are required. The air intake system, fuel system, exhaust system, electrical systems and control system need to be checked within a schedule. If any damage is detected, replace it immediately.
Routine inspection can reduce the occurrence of hazards. For diesel generators, the exhaust, fuel, engine and DC electrical system are required to be monitored closely.
Lubrication Service − The oil level and quality must be checked using a dipstick at regular intervals.
Cooling System − The level of coolant is checked. The radiator is cleaned without damaging the fins.
Fuel System − Up store the fuel before it degrades. Testing and polishing are also major requirements. The air cooler pipe and hoses should be checked for leaks, holes, cracks, dirt and debris.
Testing Batteries − Battery testing and cleaning are necessary to deliver adequate starting power. The terminals are washed with the solution of baking soda and water and coated with petroleum jelly. The specific gravity and level of electrolyte are checked. If the hydrometer reads below 1.215 then charge the battery. If the electrolyte level is low, then fill the filler neck with distilled water.
Engine Exercise − The engine exercise should be done at least once in a month for 30 minutes from loading to a no-load condition. The engine should be clean all the time.
Exhaust System − All the connection points, welds and gaskets are recommended to be checked properly for any leaks and should be repaired immediately.
1. Which standards must be followed for the installation of the generator?
a) NFPA 70
b) NFPA 85
c) NFPA 110
d) NFPA 100
NFPA 110 describes the ‘Standards for emergency and standby power system’, which includes the installation process of the generator.
2. Which gas is exhausted by the generator in running condition?
c) Carbon monoxide
d) All of the above
In operational condition, the generator exhausts poisonous gas like Carbon Monoxide.
3. At which point of electrolyte specific gravity, the battery needs to recharge?
a) less than 1.215
b) more than 1.215
c) equal to 1.215
d) None of these
The battery is required to charge again, when the specific gravity of electrolyte is less than 1.215. This is measured by a hydrometer.