Emergency Lighting Inverters: Preventative Maintenance Inspections
It’s easy to forget about the emergency lighting inverter within your facility. Emergency lighting inverters often aren’t directly supporting sensitive equipment, or critical loads that are needed to operate your organization, however, they are still a critical piece of equipment – and negligence of them can be life-threatening. Today we are discussing the top four maintenance needs to ensure that your Emergency Lighting Inverters are maintained and ready in an emergency.
Most lighting inverter manufacturers recommend having semi–annual preventative maintenance (PM) inspections completed. During these PM inspections, a certified service technician should be doing the following:
Battery failure is one of the leading causes of emergency lighting inverter failure. Batteries decay slowly over time. A typical battery maintenance test should involve checking the voltage, and connections, performing thermal scans, performing a visual inspection, and more. Completing battery maintenance on your lighting inverter can extend its life and help plan for potential battery replacements. Nearly all major manufacturers say that batteries have a lifespan of 4-5 years. Completing preventative maintenance can help to identify conditions that will shorten the lifespan including storage in a hot room, incorrect float voltage, and repeat battery usage.
Along with regular battery testing, a 90-minute discharge test needs to be completed annually. Almost all commercial/industrial buildings fall under the fire and electrical codes required by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards. To meet the NFPA guidelines – a lighting inverter must have a 90-minute discharge test completed annually and documentation must be provided.
After completing an inspection and testing of your batteries, the technicians should complete an inspection of the rest of the inverter. During that time, they will be inspecting the system components which may include:
- AC and DC Capacitors
- Internal Connections
- Air Filters
- Power Supplies
- Sticking or Welded Relays
Along with investigating components, a service technician should be reviewing the alarm log to identify other potential inefficiencies within the unit’s operation. They may also complete a thermal image scan to inspect for loose terminations or failing components that might be heating up.
Environmental and Safety
Once we have completed inspections of the batteries and the lighting inverter at large, the next action for a technician is to examine the environmental conditions. Batteries stored at a sub-optimal temperature can shorten their life span, for example, VRLA batteries are rated for operation at 77F. As little as 15 degrees above 77F can cut a battery’s life in half! Temperature is not the only environmental condition that can cause a unit to fail however, lighting inverter systems are often exposed to dust, dirt, or other elements, which can cause harm to the unit over time. To prevent a catastrophe, it’s best to identify anything that could cause inefficiencies or create a dangerous environment.
After the technician completes the preventative maintenance inspection, they will provide you with a field service report that has all the information they’ve gathered about the lighting inverter. All field service reports should be kept on file for access in the event of an audit, or other various reasons.
Maintenance inspections for an emergency lighting inverter are crucial for maintaining the system’s health. By providing the maintenance walk-through above, you can help create a safe environment to make sure your employees and customers all get home safely.
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