The only way to evaluate the health of a residential standby generator is to test it. Periodic testing let’s you know that you are prepared for power failure, and that your emergency generator system will work.
Note: If you work at a business with a commercial-sized generator, please learn more about full load bank testing services with CT Generator Services.
Why You Should Test Your Generator in Non-Emergency Situations
How reliable is your home’s standby generator? It doesn’t make much sense to wait until an outage or emergency situation to answer that question. Periodic testing of your standby generator, transfer switch, and other components is essential.
The reality is that your residential standby generator probably isn’t seeing much regular use. For many, after the installation and initial tests, the generator just sits there waiting for the next hurricane or tropical storm to knock power out. This is a bad idea.
Many modern residential generators come with automatic testing features. You may see a green light or icon on a control panel letting you know the generator has completed a diagnostic cycle. However, nothing can replace a manual test where you actually turn off utility power and test the generator under emergency outage conditions. Testing gives you assurance that the generator works. It can alert you to issues needing repair or maintenance before the emergency. An undriven car needs periodic starting to stay in top shape. So too does your standby generator.
How to Test Your Residential Standby Generator
Don’t be intimidated by a residential standby generator system. Conducting periodic testing is simple. Unlike a portable generator, a residential standby generator connect directly to a fuel source like propane or natural gas. The generator then connects to a mainline circuit breaker. This main utility line in to your home is may be in a box outside your home, or in the garage or basement.
- Flip the mainline breaker OFF. Flipping the main utility disconnect will cut power from the incoming utility line and force the standby generator to turn on.
- Listen for generator to turn on and the transfer switch to click. The transfer switch is the most common installation for distributing power from incoming utility or generated power throughout the house. The generator may run for a few seconds to a minute. Then before the transfer switch clicks and power is distributed. This is because the transfer switch is waiting to make sure that the incoming generated power is stable.
- Let your generator run for about 10 minutes. Give your generator time to warm up and “exercise.” This is a good time to walk through your home and check to see that power is restored fully.
- After running a test, be sure to turn the mainline breaker ON and wait again for the transfer switch click and the generator to return back to standby.
Record the Test and Follow Up If Needed
Test your generator at least a couple times a year, but you can do so as needed.
Record your test in a notebook so you have a record. If you experience any problems, contact a residential generator specialist for a more thorough test and inspection.
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