Generator Testing Ideas

By Keith Lane July 1, 2006

The heart of reliability for most data centers lies in its generators. But according to some industry experts, current maintenance practices may be more harmful than helpful.

Speaking at the recent 7×24 conference in Orlando, Stephen Fairfax from MTechnology and Michael Golay, Ph.D., Professor of Nuclear Energy, MIT, presented a session questioning standard testing strategies for standby diesel generators. Testing typically involves running a generator for an hour once per month. But a one-hour test, said the presenters, will likely uncover only 33% of the potential problems—in other words, only system-starting issues. On the other hand, testing for a longer duration—two to 14 hours—should uncover problems with supporting systems according to the presenters. And testing generators over a 14-to-24-hour period should reveal any actual problems with the generator or engine itself. That said, for those considering such procedural changes, all local code and AHJ issues must be verified prior to altering any test procedures.