The benefits of a backup power generator cannot be overstated. When it comes to keeping your family comfortable at home or maintaining normal business operations, you can count on a backup generator to mitigate the negative effects of an unexpected power outage. While you may think that the purchase and installation of a standby power generator automatically ensures power restoration in the case of a blackout, you may be missing one key piece of equipment – an automatic transfer switch.
In this blog we will cover what an automatic transfer switch is, why it is important, why you should protect it, and how to effectively do so.
What is an Automatic Transfer Switch
An automatic transfer switch (ATS) facilitates the smooth transfer of power from a primary source (utility) to a backup source (generator) when a power failure is detected from the primary source. Think of an ATS as sort of an electrical relay. As electricity flows to your home or office electrical panel, the ATS is able to sense any kind of disruption or outage and immediately activate your backup power source. ATS devices are available in a variety of types depending on the power requirements of connected devices. The type of ATS used will determine its install, but most ATS devices are installed between your electric meter and breaker panel.
Why an Automatic Transfer Switch is Important
An automatic transfer switch is just that – automatic. Without an ATS, the activation of a generator would need to be completed manually, meaning someone would need to be on site to operate the generator. This could be impossible for businesses since power outages often occur outside of business hours. Any sort of power disruption could be detrimental for organizations such as hospitals, laboratories, and data centers where service is critical. Downtime for these operations have costly, and potentially life-threatening consequences, making automatic transfer switches a must have.
Why Automatic Transfer Switches Need Surge Protection
Every automatic transfer switch is comprised of sensitive electronic components and, like any piece of electrical equipment, is subject to damage from incoming power surges and spikes. Surge protection devices are suggested for multiple points throughout an ATS system, commonly in between the generator and utility inputs and the ATS output. Surges caused by lightning or utility load switching can destroy the ATS, while transients generated from the ATS can damage equipment downstream. If an ATS suffers damage from a power surge in any given direction, the ATS may be unable to perform its power transfer functions, rendering the system useless. System damage may not even be realized until it is too late, causing irreparable damage to mission critical operations.
How to Protect an Automatic Transfer Switch
Just as you would invest in the long-term function of your generator, you also would want to invest in the long-term function of your ATS. DITEK’s ZEUS series of non-modular surge protective devices are the ideal solution for protecting your ATS from damage caused by power surges and spikes. The ZEUS D50/D100/D200 Series offers professional grade electrical protection backed by a comprehensive warranty. Designed using the latest in surge protection technology for maximum performance and protection, models are available in a wide range of voltage configuration and protection modes to meet all of your project specification needs.