When the electricity goes out in your home, you can usually withstand a few hours of darkness, heat, or cold until it returns. But when your business experiences a power outage, it could prove tragic, especially if its critical functions depend on constant power supply. This very scenario is why many entities, including hospitals, data centers, and even commercial retailers have emergency backup generators. But simply having a backup generator doesn’t mean that you’re prepared for a power outage. To be prepared, you need to ensure that your generator is accessed via an automatic transfer switch and not a manual one.
How Does an Automatic Transfer Switch Differ From a Manual One?
Manual transfer switches predate automatic switches, but they are still used widely today. Unlike automatic switches, manual switches require one to switch from grid power to generator power in the event of power outage, and then back to grid power when it resumes. In automatic switches, special circuitry allows this process to be controlled by computer. In facilities that have a single, conveniently located generator and don’t require constant power, the difference between manual and automatic switches is negligible. But for companies that occupy a campus setting and have more than one generator to service numerous buildings, automatic switches offer the most convenience.
When you choose automatic switches over manual ones, you have another decision to make: do you need “make before break” switches or “break before make” switches? The former immediately connect a building to generator power as it remains on grid power, while the latter waits to access generator power until it reaches a certain frequency. As one might expect, make before break models are favored by entities that need power at all times. But they do come with a risk: if grid power suddenly returns while generator power is also accessed, a power surge could occur. However, because the period where both sources are accessed is brief, the danger is considered minimal.
If you are considering protecting your business with an emergency generator, understand that generators benefit more than companies whose critical services require constant power. Generators can also benefit retail outlets, fitness clubs, service centers, and any operation where sales depend on maintaining a powered environment. Before you buy a generator, it’s best to consult with a provider of emergency power equipment to determine which type of switch arrangement is best for your business. Power outages can happen at any time. By equipping your business with generator power, you’ll do more than keep the lights on. You’ll also conduct business as usual while the competition remains in the dark.