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Load Bank Testing For Data Centers: Why Is It Important?

By: Kayla Matthews on March 30, 2020

Data centers are crucial for keeping websites and connected technologies running as customers expect. Although many people assert that it's not possible to predict the future, load bank testing offers the next best thing. It simulates the strain on data center equipment under certain conditions, giving clients an idea of what to expect if those situations happen in real life.

For example, generator load bank testing occurs to ensure those machines perform to their specifications. Performing such assessments before emergencies happen provides peace of mind and lets clients know if they need to make changes for adequate preparedness.

In the data center sector, providers offer mobile and rack-mounted heater load banks. They mimic the power consumption and warm-up period of computers and servers. 

A load bank only draws power and voltage, so it is not an exact reproduction of the fluctuating traffic levels handled by a data center. Nevertheless, it can help a data center operator verify that equipment works as it should, thereby assisting customers in feeling confident that the entity is doing what it should to prevent outages. 

1. Load Banks Let Users Create Conditions During Data Center Commissioning

The need for load bank testing in the data center sector helped create a business model whereby people can rent a load bank tester and use it as a crucial part of their data center commissioning that happens before the servers arrive at the facility. 

One portable model on the market has a programmable Delta T value. Delta T is the difference between the entering cold air and the exiting warm air. The product offers a Delta T range of 10K-30K, plus allows a person the adjust the load resistances from 0.5 to 7 kW.

Thanks to load bank testing, data center operators have no excuses for being caught off guard regarding equipment capabilities. Most data center brands only use load banks occasionally, and they can rent them instead of investing in a purchase. 

2. People Can Choose Load Bank Testers to Meet Specific Needs

If a company needs to carry out generator load bank testing, resistive and reactive load banks are two of the main types. Whereas resistive load banks pull power from a generator like lights or appliances do, reactive load banks simulate inductive power draws. Parties that need power in industries such as construction, or those that require backup power often choose reactive load banks. 

Going back to data centers, particularly, resistive load banks are typically the kinds most often utilized. For example, those load bank testers work for evaluating a data center's climate control system, uninterruptible power systems (UPS), remote power panels and bus tracks. However, there are also specific load banks for server racks.

Besides the assortment of portable options available, some data center brands prefer purchasing a load bank tester that serves as a permanent fixture in the facility. In addition to utilizing data centers during commissioning, parties should also depend on them periodically to stress-test electrical systems. Doing that should make costly outages less likely to happen.  

If companies need to decide whether to rent or buy a load bank tester, they should weigh numerous factors tied to their operations. For example, how often will the load bank testing happen, and will it occur at one site or across many facilities operated by one brand?

3. Load Bank Testing Supports Other Preventative Measures

Load bank testing is a practical way to subject data center equipment to conditions that may pan out in the real world. However, it is not the sole preventative measure associated with outages. Research from Uptime Institute found that some data center outages are getting longer, with some of the publicly reported incidents spanning more than 48 hours. 

However, one positive discovery from Uptime institute's data is that power failures cause fewer of the most significant outages. Misconfigured IT systems are more often the culprits for those.

Thus, such a conclusion should remind data center professionals that load bank testing certainly has a place in helping facilities stay resilient. It is not a magic fix that addresses all kinds of outages, however. 

Emerging solutions for the data center sector, such as artificial intelligence (AI) could help facility managers become more aware of what causes the failures. Then, they can use that knowledge to make outages less likely, through more frequent load bank testing or otherwise. 

Load Bank Testing Is Essential

Today's data center equipment deals with increasing traffic, coupled with rising customer expectations. Generator load bank testing, as well as data center-specific options, can help those facilities ensure the right level of preparedness for these challenging times. 

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