Power outages can occur at any given moment and most of the time, they happen when you least expect them to. Electricity is now a need among home and business owners and in its absence, people tend to lose money (and patience) during the hours or days of extreme heat, cold, or darkness. It is more tragic for businesses to lose power since critical functions rely on the continuity of electrical supply. This is why data centers, hospitals, and commercial retailers rely on backup generators for immediate power supply in times of crisis.
To ensure preparedness, make sure that your generator is accessible through the automatic transfer switch.
Why Go Automatic?
Before automatic switches came the manual transfer switches. Though they have been outmoded by their automatic counterparts, many homes and companies still rely on manual switches to change from grid power to emergency power supply then back again to grid power during blackouts.
Automatic switches, unlike manually controlled ones, are being controlled by a computer. Their special circuitry allows such a process to take place. If a small business just relies on one generator during power outages, then it is fairly negligible to just use a manual switch. In instances where there are many generators to be set up during a power outage, then it is much easier to have an automatic transfer switch system installed.
As you choose to utilize an automatic switch over a manual one, your next decision is when to turn the emergency power on – is it immediately after the power outage or only when a certain frequency is reached. The latter is highly favored by many electricians but frowned at by business owners. Now, why is this so?
Turning the generator on straight away after a power outage might turn into a scenario when the power supply suddenly turns back on, too. When this happens, a power surge could occur and this could cause a much bigger problem. While it is understandable that business owners need to have power at all times, they must also be careful when to turn on generators so that power surges don’t happen.
A Critical Component
The automatic transfer switch, also known as ATS, is a crucial part of the emergency power supply system. This switch chooses a power source either standard or an emergency generator power supply. There are four types of ATS –
- The Break Before Make or Open Transition is the fundamental transfer type. This simply means an open connection is used prior to the second source being closed.
- The Make Before Break or Closed Transition is used by facilities that require uninterrupted power transfer.
- Delayed Transition or Center Off has adjustable time between each of the sources. This results in the decay of the residual voltage prior to connecting to the next source.
- Solid State switch makes use of redundancy to the system.
An ATS should be tested on a regular basis (preferably each month) to ensure that it still works once the emergency occurs. To test an automatic transfer switch, contact a licensed electrician to do the task for you. This is not something that a DIY enthusiast must put his finger into.
A test includes an automatic start that is initiated by the ATS. This should result in the standby generator’s power being used up. Monthly testing are not known to affect the lifespan of an automatic transfer switch.
An automatic transfer switch is an important part of a modern electrical system. Its importance becomes doubly significant for facilities that need to have a steady supply of electrical power such as hospitals, food factories, and the like.
Monthly tests should resolve potential issues that could stop the switch from functioning properly just in case an emergency finally takes place.