For exact details on exercising your generator, and ensuring peak performance when you need it most, follow your genset’s manufacturer’s recommendation. Depending on the purpose of your generator, local, state or federal mandates may require specific exercise cycles as well. For example, Florida’s Collier County requires nursing homes and assisted living facilities to test emergency standby generators in a way that mimics a power outage on a regular basis.
This particular requirement is in place in Collier County because there are two types of generator exercise: running without a load and running with a load. Running with a load is what prepares a generator, as well as other components necessary for using the generator for power generation, for an emergency situation. Exercising your generator under a load for a significant amount of time also prevents wet stacking and moisture buildup.
As a general rule, a generator should be exercised without a load between once a week and once a month. Testing with a load should be done on a monthly or quarterly basis.
Your generator’s exercise cycle may be automated by a timer, which ensures the generator is tested on a regular basis. Whether you rely on automation or manually exercise your generator, it should be completed under supervision. This way, if a problem is detected it can be remedied by in-house technicians or generator specialists as soon as possible, protecting you and your business in case of a true power outage.
If your generator operates in a location where grid power is not reliable, you rely on your generator more often. Gensets that are called upon for extended periods of power generation on a regular basis do not need to be exercised. In this situation, the unreliable grid power replaces the exercise cycle. However, other maintenance is more important, because you rely on your generator more often!