Did you know that your emergency power system has one crucial point of failure that is completely independent of your emergency generator? If this component fails, your generator will not even know it needs to start!
This single point of failure is called an ATS or Automatic Transfer Switch.
An ATS monitors the electrical power from your utility and, when it detects a power grid failure, it signals your emergency generator to start. It then switches your facility from utility power to generator power. When it detects that the utility power is restored, it switches back to the utility and signals the emergency generator to shut off.
Although it is a critical component in your emergency power system, ATS maintenance is often neglected for various reasons. However, this neglect will eventually result in a failure to transfer power when you need it most!
Reasons That an ATS Fails to Transfer Power
As a company that specializes in power generation, we have seen many ATS failures over the years for various reasons. We have seen failures caused by:
- Loose wiring connections
- Accumulation of dust, sand, dirt, leaves, etc.
- Infiltration by rats and mice (for real!)
- Conductor failure due to overheating
- Mechanical contactor deficiencies
- Poor lubrication
- Controller program issues
What Can You Do to Make Sure Your ATS is Ready?
So, how can you ensure that your ATS is prepared for the inevitable power grid failures?
First, it is critical to understand that only qualified technicians with appropriate PPE should ever work on, service, or open an ATS cabinet/panel. There is an extreme risk of an arc flash/electric shock occurring from these devices. Opening the ATS cabinet without proper PPE can result in injury or death!
WARNING: ARC FLASH AND SHOCK HAZARD!
Second, the best way to avoid a costly failure is actually very simple – get a regular inspection by a qualified and factory trained technician.
The technician will visit your facility and complete an inspection on your ATS to look for heat marks, wiring defects, loose connections, and abrasion or chaffing on the wiring. They will clean out the dust and debris, torque contactor lug connections to proper specs and check controller settings.
They will then do one or more of the following tests depending on the system setup and the customer requirements:
- Functional test using the test switch(es) on the ATS
- Manual testing of the ATS components after isolating the power at the ATS by locking out the up and downstream breakers
- A live test, in conjunction with the building engineers, which drops the utility power and ensures the transfer switch and generator respond as per design
Once the service work and testing has been completed, the technician will make recommendations for any issues they find that would put your system at risk. Depending on the issues that are identified, the technician may fix them while onsite and or write up the recommended repairs if additional parts are required.
Your ATS is a critical component in your emergency power system and it can be the single point of failure that prevents your emergency system from providing power when you need it. Decrease the chances of a power transfer failure by scheduling your ATS maintenance today!