22 Apr What is an automatic transfer switch?
An automatic transfer switch (ATS) is a device which is used to reroute power, which is most often switched between two power sources. Whilst some transfer switches may remain manual, some are also triggered automatically when one of the power sources trips. The ATS will automatically switch to regain power. They are commonly used industrially, and may be found within hotels, hospitals and other large buildings but can be used domestically. In a hospital, for example, the loss of electric power could result in catastrophe; the inability to provide adequate power to the vital machinery needed, but an ATS would allow the backup system to kick in instantaneously and safely. There are two basic types of automatic transfer switches, more commonly known as circuit breaker and contactor designs. The circuit breaker type has two interlocked circuit breakers, and the standard contactor type is less complex and is electrically operated and mechanically held.
The ATS would ensure that there is continuity of power and the principles behind the system are relatively simple and self-explanatory. The backup generator will be controlled by an ATS and generally the system works in situations as follows:
1. When the electrical power in any building goes out, the ATS will trigger the backup generator. This causes the generator to ready itself to supply electrical power once again.
2. When the generator is prepared, the ATS will switch the emergency power as required to the necessary place.
3. The ATS will command the generator to shut down automatically if and when the original power is restored or fixed.
An ATS provides a simple ‘life-support’ system to the building to ensure there is a simple and effective solution for power loss and this is done automatically. When the power is lost, it will automatically send a switch command to the generator to start it up. When the generator is ready to supply power, the ATS will switch emergency power to the load and then will shut down accordingly.
Are There Different Types Of Switches?
In essence, yes. With the standard soft loaded ATS designs, there are also, of course, different types of designs, which may include open transition, closed transition and static transfer switch designs for different purposes used in different types of buildings and uses. Some types of switches may be more complex than others, closed transfer switches, for example, may seem more complex due to the way in which they operate, because these switches require monitoring of power flow during the transition. This may need to be done via bypass capacitors. Either way, however, ATS switches are a vital component to ensure that loss of power does not affect workflow. Loss of power without backup could result in lost files, lost time as well as money which can affect the business long term. Have any power transferred safely and quickly with the use of an ATS switch and leave the worry of loss of power behind you.
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