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Code Corner

Code Corner 2005.4

Existing Elevators on Standby Power

Code Corner by Patrick J. WelchIn the heat of the summer, most of us have experienced either a brown out or a black out. At home it can be inconvenient, but rarely life threatening. The same cannot be said for a hospital, airport, and transportation facility that require a reliable source of standby power in an emergency.

Emergency generators are the most common source of standby power, but proper testing of elevators on the generator system is not a common practice. The Code is very clear on these requirements, yet we find that the vast majority of owners and maintenance companies we talk to do not understand the requirements. This misunderstanding can lead to failures of either the elevator or the generator itself.

Requirement 8.11.2.2.7 of the ASME A17.1 Code regarding existing elevators on standby power requires an annual test of the elevator on standby power. If more than one elevator is capable of operating on standby power simultaneously, then they must be tested on standby power simultaneously. This test can be performed with no load on the elevator.

While this test is simple, it is often neglected or postponed to the point that it is often forgotten. It is our strong recommendation that all parties responsible ensure that this annual test is completed in coordination with the maintenance contractor, owner, and the emergency generator contractor without fail.

If the annual test is forgotten or postponed, consider the five-year test requirements. This test is identical to the annual test with one very significant difference. 8.11.2.3.5 Emergency and Standby Power Operation states operation of elevators equipped with emergency or standby power shall be inspected and tested for conformance with the applicable requirements (Item 1.17.2). Passenger elevators and freight elevators permitted to carry passengers (see 2.16.4) shall be tested with 125 percent.

If an elevator has been modernized with a solid state drive, the need for this test is even more important. This is due to the new electrical characteristics installed that may adversely impact the emergency generator system. For more information on elevators and emergency power, visit our technical library. VTX

We at VTX® deal with code issues on a regular basis. It is very likely that your question is not new to us, and we can help quickly. It is not uncommon for us to bring a request for interpretation for our clients before A17.1. Just remember that ASME wants the requirements to be clearly understood, so get it clarified, it could dramatically affect your project or operation!