What Is An Automatic Transfer Switch?

An automatic transfer switch (ATS) is a device used to reroute power from the primary source to a backup generator when a power outage occurs. As well as transferring the load to the backup generator, the ATS will also trigger the generator to start, ensuring the premise receives a continuous stream of power.

How Does An Automatic Transfer Switch Work?

The level of control that an ATS can exert over a backup generator depends on the voltage in the primary supply for a premise. As every situation is different, it is essential to employ the guidance and advice of a professional provider. When an electrical fault occurs, the ATS works by triggering the generator and rerouting the power. These faults may be identified by a drop-in voltage of a complete failure of the regular source of power. Regular servicing of the automatic transfer switch is important as well.

A basic overview of the transition process is as follows:

1. When the electrical outage occurs, the ATS starts the backup generator. This disruption triggers the generator to prepare for the incoming electrical supply.
2. Once the generator is running at the proper speed, the ATS switches the emergency power to its load. This transition enables the generator to service the previously determined critical functions of the site.
3. After the primary power supply returns, the ATS will then revert the electrical route to the standard source.
4. The ATS then triggers a cool-down period for the generator. This step is fundamental to improve functionality and expected lifespan of a unit.

Manual and automatic are the two main types of transfer switches. Reactive Generators highly recommends the installation of an automatic unit, as this system works autonomously and instantaneously. An automatic nature of an ATS simplifies the process, maintains a higher level of safety and minimises unnecessary downtime.

Is there any delay in starting the generator with an ATS?

A backup generator is triggered in several ways. Once a power outage occurs, this unit can be kick-started by:

• A signal from the ATS
• A power monitoring system
• A control system

An ATS is the quickest method to start a backup generator, as the process begins as soon as the power outage occurs. While the re-routing process commences straight away, there is still a slight time delay before the generator is started and the premise receives the re-routed power supply. This short break is a necessary functionality that is installed to manage false alarm triggers.

The most prevalent time delay overrides any momentary outages that would cause a false engine start and therefore, the unnecessary transfer of load. This delay can range anywhere between 0 to 6 seconds, with most premises opting for longer rather than shorter delays. These periods provide ample time to connect to the backup source, while also complying with any relevant legislation or requirements.

Once normal power has returned, another time delay is necessary to ensure the load is stable enough to switch over from the backup power source. This delay is typically under 30-minutes. The control panel will also automatically skip this time delay when returning to the primary source if the generator fails and the mains supply has returned to normal functionality.

The final time delay is to provide a cool-down period for the generator. This period ensures the engine runs until its unloaded, before shutting it off.

What Will You Do When The Power Goes Out?

Many businesses do not consider how they will manage a power outage until presented with the situation, and by then, it is too late. While an ATS is not absolutely necessary for the installation and usage of a backup generator, this device helps simplify the process and reduce delays in regaining power.

Adopting this proactive approach will ensure your business can deal with any unexpected power outages, without excessive disruption to daily operation. There are several other preventive measures which will improve the value and capabilities of your emergency power plan. If you’re interested in discussing the option of an ATS, or you would like information on our other services, get in touch with the friendly team at Reactive Generators.

Reactive Generators

Reactive Generators directs every effort towards supporting our customers. We work with each client individually to establish their needs, goals, and budget before providing tailored advice and services. Operating across Queensland, we offer skilled technicians in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Ipswich. We cater to industrial and commercial clients across the region, providing a comprehensive and end-to-end service. From purchase and installation to maintenance and repairs, you can trust Reactive Generators to get the job done.