Why Network Load Banks?
Networked load banks can provide numerous advantages for a wide range of test applications. The following article explains the features and benefits of networking load banks.
Increased Available Capacity
Networked load banks enable operators to combine the capacities of connected units. For example, if three 100 kW load banks connect through a network, the available load testing capacity is 300 kW. High load test capacities can be applied to power systems according to the number and capacities of the load banks in the network.
Provide High-Capacity in Access-Restricted Facilities
Back-up diesel generators are commonly located on rooftops or in basements. Elevators and stairways often render these areas inaccessible to large equipment. At rooftop locations, large equipment is typically positioned with a crane. When located in basements, long cable runs may be required to connect load banks to other equipment.
Lower capacity, portable load banks can fit through single access doors to access rooftop and basement locations via lifts or stairways. Multiple smaller units can be networked together to create capacity equivalent to a larger unit. Leading load bank manufacturers can network 40 or more units together to provide sufficient capacity for testing high capacity diesel generating sets.
Non-Unity Power Factor Testing
Networking allows combinations of load types to test systems at non-unity power factors. Separate resistive, inductive, and capacitive load banks can be networked to present a range of load profiles. By combining different types of load banks, facilities can apply resistive and inductive loads to test lagging power factors, resistive and capacitive loads to test leading power factors, and all three types of loads for resistive, inductive, capacitive (RLC) testing. Networking provides the capability to test a variety of sources according to customer requirements.
Fine Load Step Resolution
Lower capacity load banks typically offer smaller load steps than higher capacity units. By combining low-capacity and high-capacity units, a network can apply incrementally smaller load steps when performing high-capacity testing. Fine load step resolution enhances testing precision and enables an operator to apply specific percentage loading. This capability is often required to meet stringent regulatory standards within the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) and the international standards organization (ISO).
In mission critical environments, diesel generating sets often require test durations between 8 and 24 hours. Because it is essential to supply consistent and reliable load, multiple load banks can be networked to provide n+1 redundancy. If one load bank then loses communication or cannot provide load, supporting units will remain online to provide the required load and allowing the test to proceed as designed. This avoids wasting fuel, time, and equipment wear-and tear associated with re-testing.
Load bank testing continually evolves to accommodate new load test types and serve additional customer applications. Firmware updates enable existing load bank software to apply new test parameters. When load banks are networked, firmware updates can be concurrently applied to all of the units. This saves the time and effort of individually updating every unit.
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