Do you know how long your data center could function in the event of a prolonged power outage? If you have never had comprehensive data center load bank testing completed, you probably do not. Data centers of all sizes are capable of handling a certain power load depending on what generator, UPS system, other data center hardware and infrastructure are present. When power equipment is purchased, there is a predetermined “nameplate” power KVA capacity. As we all know, data centers scale very quickly, and sometimes there is very little time to prepare to scale or there is an unanticipated power surge that could test the limits of those KVA capacities. Though resistive load banks are common for testing generator sets and power systems, they will not test the generator to its full KVA capacity at .8 Power Factor. Therefore, reactive load bank testing is best because it uses inductive or capacitive loading or a combination of the two, to deliver the necessary load. It is vitally important when installing, and annually thereafter, to test the full KVA capacity by using a reactive load bank. Load bank testing should be completed before ever installing and taking data center hardware live, at full system buildout, and again as systems begin to age to avoid unanticipated and costly downtime.
Data center load bank testing should take place over multiple hours and test the generator’s output at various loads. This will provide accurate measurements of whether the system is capable of supplying the necessary amount of power for various loads, if the system can function efficiently at various loads, if the generator can maintain a stable voltage throughout the test, and what the levels of oil and fuel pressure reached are.
Intelligent Data Centers points out just how essential effective load bank testing is, “Not carrying out appropriate testing can lead to stark consequences, as seen when an untested facility went unexpectedly offline as a UK bank was carrying out a significant IT migration in 2019. As this data centre had not been tested beforehand, quick fault-finding and remedial action was not possible. As a result, over 2 million customers could not access their accounts, with the bank incurring a fine of £370 million in ‘post-migratory charges’. If appropriate testing had been carried out during the construction of the facility, it can be argued that steps could have been taken to address this fault beforehand, with this situation avoided entirely…When considering the viability of loadbank testing, it’s important to note the total cost of ownership over a facility’s lifetime. Such processes, carried out by sector experts, will result in more efficient operations and bolster the resilience of key critical infrastructure, alongside providing owners and operators with peace of mind that their facility will remain resilient even under highly demanding conditions.”
When load bank testing, problematic connections as well as other problems may show up and you will be better able to pinpoint problems and make any necessary changes, preventing potentially catastrophic problems for your mission-critical load. Both upstream and downstream power needs to be tested at the maximum possible load, this will test the full critical power path.