As the calendar pages continue to flip, we can expect the weather patterns to change as well. The long sunny days of summer are over, and the crisp, cool air of fall is moving in. Before we know it, the days will be short and the snow flurries will start.
Working in the cold may be uncomfortable, but working in the dark can be dangerous. Around the U.S., stopping work when the sun sets during the winter, when it gets dark much earlier, could cut back on productivity by several hours. Light towers provide strong lighting that lets the work continue to get done.
The shorter days are not the only thing you have to worry about, though. The weather can play a major role in how your equipment operates, and if it is not running at top efficiency — or, worse, if it fails — it cuts into your profitability. Colder temperatures, as well as snow and ice, can create challenging conditions for compact equipment. Using light towers in extremely cold weather requires some special treatment to ensure the work continues well into the dark days of winter. This includes daily, weekly and monthly attention to perform visual inspections, fluid checks and safety procedures.
Before starting the machine, Generac Mobile recommends walking around the light tower to make sure there are no loose items on the engine or generator mast, and that the wire connections to the light fixtures are tight. These checks should actually be done regardless of the season.
Properly starting the machine is another key factor to keeping the light tower running correctly. Make sure all the breakers, switches and lights are turned off. Otherwise the unit will start under a load, which decreases engine life. The same goes for shutting down the tower. All lights, switches and breakers should be turned off before turning the engine off.
If the light tower has been inactive for an extended period — particularly in cold temperatures — it can experience several issues that, if not addressed, could damage internal components, such as moisture buildup and fuel degradation. Run your light tower at full load for several minutes at least once a month to allow it to reach normal operating temperature. This will expel any moisture collecting in the fuel or oil by converting it to steam. Regular operation in the colder months can also help discourage small animals and pests from building nests inside the light tower enclosure.
A monthly battery test is a good rule of thumb, especially during a cold weather stretch. Batteries are sensitive to temperature and may not maintain a sufficient charge in cold weather. You can also avoid downtime by testing the battery before delivering the tower to the jobsite.
Adding a capacitor test to the regular maintenance routine can also prevent downtime. Capacitors are similarly vulnerable to cold temperatures, and a low rating is one of the most common causes of inoperable light towers.
For work sites in the winter to be successful, they call for the right equipment to help overcome the cold and the dark. Light tower maintenance does not take a lot of extra time, and performing the required maintenance can help ensure a long life for the light tower.