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.