Emergency Generator Batteries

Q: Are we required to replace the batteries that start our emergency generators every two years? Our generator service contractor told us that the code requires us to replace the batteries that often.

A: I’m not sure what code your service contractor is referring to, but I’m not aware of this requirement. Section 19.5.1 of the LSC requires compliance of section 9.1 for all utilities. Section 9.1.3 requires emergency generators to comply with NFPA 110 (1999 edition) Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems. Section 6-3.6 of NFPA 110 requires the batteries to be maintained according to the manufacturer’s specifications and inspected at intervals of not more than 7 days. The annex section states that the specific gravity should be checked and recorded. I suggest that you contact your local and state authorities to see if they have any other requirements.

Generator 3-Year Load Test

Q:  We are completing a project that includes a new generator for our hospital. The installing contractor will conduct a 2-hour load test as part of his commissioning. My question is, are we required to conduct the 3-year 4-hour load test right away, or should we wait 3 years after we begin using the generator?

A:  You need to conduct this 4-hour test right away. The Joint Commission standards references NFPA 110 Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems (2005 edition) and section 8.4.9 requires a 4-hour load test once every three years. If you wait until the third year to do this test, and you have a survey prior to completing this test, you may be cited by the accreditor for non-compliance with their standards. It is the intent of this test to provide a reasonable assurance that the generator is capable of running and delivering power during an emergency. It has been documented that some generators failed to continue to operate after only a couple of hours during an emergency due to overheating.