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The Difference Between A Manual And Automatic Power Changeover Switch

Most of us don’t think about our electricity supply at all. For most people it is just “there” and when we want to have light, we just press a switch and that is as far as it goes. However, the fact is that power outages can and do occur. Again, in many situations that are just a nuisance, but hardly life-threatening.

However, for other people in different situations, a continuous supply of electricity is essential, and so they will invest in a standby generator running on diesel in order to provide an alternative source of power if or when there is an outage.

Now, what is known as the load – the building where the power goes to – cannot be connected to both the mains supply and the generator at the same time. If the mains supply came into contact with the generator, the generator would almost certainly burn out, and the other way around - if the generator back-fed into the mains – it would endanger the lives of electricity supply workers.

So, in order to prevent this from happening, when installing a generator at premises with mains supply, it is a legal requirement to install a transfer switch. This can either be an automatic changeover switch or a manual changeover switch. Both do exactly the same job, but an automatic switch does it faster and reduces the power outage length.

An automatic changeover switch can come in one of two types, either with built-in mains power detection or without. One with built-in mains detection monitors the mains supply and when it detects a mains power failure it will disconnect from the mains and send a signal to the generator to start up. When the generator has fired up it sends an “available” signal to the automatic transfer switch which will then switch to the generator supply.

If the automatic transfer switch does not have mains detection built-in, this must be built in elsewhere, usually in the generator. In this case, the generator will detect the mains failure and start-up, at the same time sending a signal to the automatic changeover switch to disconnect from the mains supply and transfer to the generator.

Of course, if you have a manual changeover switch this means that someone has to physically go to it and switch it over to the generator. Obviously, that means that it will take longer for power to be restored. Indeed, if nobody is on the premises the power outage will continue until someone returns and switches to the generator, or the mains supply is restored, whichever is soonest.

What Do You Do When The Lights Go Out?

Yes, we know that may seem a bit of a strange question. If you live in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, or even Plymouth, it probably doesn’t happen very often.

And yet, there are plenty of places, even in the UK, where power cuts occur quite often. And this doesn’t have to happen just because the electricity company is at fault. It may be generating away quite happily as always, but unfortunately, there is a storm. The storm brings a large oak tree down. That oak tree falls across a power line which just happens to be the one that brings the power into your home. Or your office. Or your retail store. Or your factory. Or – enter your own choice here.

Power cuts happen quite often, and the result may be that you miss out on the middle of East Enders and have to dine by candlelight.

(By the way. Do you have any candles? Just asking. But what if you don’t?).

And what if the dinner is only halfway through cooking and the cooker gets switched off? The candles won’t matter because you won’t have any dinner anyway.

Ah well, you can always send out for a takeaway. Except that you can’t, because their power line is the same one that supplies you.

Trust me. I know. Back in the day – in the Great Storm of 1987 – exactly that happened to me. And my home was without power for – wait for it – THIRTEEN DAYS! In the middle of Autumn and just when winter was approaching with darker evenings.

But in those days, we never thought about those possibilities. I had recently moved into the countryside – still in Kent, so not exactly out in the wilds – and I learned those power outages were a regular occurrence. But what I didn’t have was an emergency generator.

This is why I recommend everyone to have an emergency generator, and today you can buy generator switchgear in the UK from Blades Power Generation.

That means that when that power cut strikes – for whatever reason – you will be without electricity. For about ten seconds.

As soon as the power goes down, the emergency generator kicks in and the lights will be back on again. Bang! Just like that. Along with your dinner.

If you want to buy generator switchgear in the UK, head over to Bladespower Generation and check out all the possibilities.

How An Automatic Transfer Switch Works

If you are installing a standby generator on-premises with a mains power supply, it is a legal requirement to have a transfer switch. This can be either manual or automatic. This avoids the mains power burning out the generator which would be almost certain to happen if the mains power came back on while the generator was running, and it avoids the generator back-feeding the mains which would endanger the safety of the electricity utility workers.

Both types of switches perform the same function, but the automatic transfer switch obviously does it automatically, saving time and restoring power almost immediately. Furthermore, if you have a manual switch, it means that you have to be on the premises in order to start the generator, so if you are away there will be no power until you return and switch over.

There are two types of automatic transfer switches, or ATS, panels. One has mains detection built-in and monitors the mains supply. When it detects a mains failure it will send a signal to the generator to start. When the generator has started it then sends a signal back to the ATS saying that it is available, and the ATS will then switch to the generator.

If the ATS does not have mains detection built-in, this will have to be part of the generator and it will monitor the mains supply. When it detects the mains failure it will send a signal to the ATS to disconnect from the mains and start itself automatically. As soon as it is up and running it then sends a signal to the ATS telling it to switch to the generator.

There are a number of different designs of ATS panels, but usually, a mains failure relay is fitted with two contactors in an enclosure. The contactors are mechanically and electrically interlocked, and a mechanical device called an interlock ensures that the two contactors cannot be closed at the same time. If you have two contactors, A and B, the circuit to close contactor A is wired through the auxiliary of B, therefore when B is closed, it is not possible to energize A. The same is true for B which is wired through the auxiliary of A. This provides the electrical interlock.

When the mains fails and the generator starts, the ATS opens the mains contactor and closes the generator contactor. When mains power is restored, the reverse happens. Since the two contactors can never be closed together, there is always a short break in the supply as the contactors change over.

Keeping The Lights On Even When The Power Goes Down

Almost every home in the country has electrical power, and most of the time we don’t even think about it and how it works. When we need light, we press a switch. When we need to cook, we press another one and turn some more on the cooker as required. That’s it. Simple.

However, in outlying areas the electricity supply can be intermittent on occasion, and although we don’t think much about it, if at all, power outages can happen anywhere at any time for any number of reasons.

Some of us are old enough to remember the 3-day week in 1973/1974 when the miners were on strike at the same time as there were oil shortages. There was insufficient fuel to run the power stations and Prime Minister Edward Heath announced that the lights would go out at certain times of day, and we can remember refusing to be crushed by the miners while we were decorating and continued to paint the lounge walls by candlelight in the evening.

The Christmas No 1 in 1973 was “Merry Christmas Everybody” by Slade, which was ironic, but we buckled down and got on with it. Comedian Bruce Forsyth said on TV “It could come to this”. He struck a match and announced: “Match of the Day!”.

Well, we survived all that, but there is still the possibility of power outages today, nearly 50 years later. This can cause problems ranging from inconvenience because the TV is not on and we can’t watch Corrie or East Enders, to serious issues where power is needed continuously such as in hospitals, for example.

This is why many people invest in stand-by generators so that if the power goes down the lights don’t go out – well only for a few seconds at most.

At Blades Power Generation we provide the best emergency power source in the UK with our range of generators which can be operated either manually or with the use of an Automatic Transfer Switch, or ATS.

When you use a manual switch, it obviously means that you need to be on the premises when the power goes down in order to switch over to the generator.

Using an ATS is the answer if you need to keep the power on even when you are away from your home or business, because it will automatically switch on the generator, which is the best emergency power source in the UK, and the lights are on again as soon as it is up and running, in a matter of seconds.

A Standby Generator Is A Good Piece Of Insurance

What do you do when the lights go out? OK, in this country we have mains electric power, and we don’t have power outages too often, although they can and do occur. However, when the mains power does go down it can often stay down for several days if it is due to a storm and power lines have come down. This happened in the Great Storm of 1987 when some homes were without electricity for two weeks.

It is one thing if the power goes down at home, and quite another if your factory comes to a grinding halt and you have to stop production. That can finish up costing you a lot of money, and it could also lose you, customers. This is why more people today are investing in emergency standby generators that can take over if power outages occur. At Blades Power Generation we have both new and used generators for sale in the UK.

There are basically two types of emergency generators, either standby generators or portable generators. Both provide a supply of electricity off-grid and can provide enough power just to keep the lights on or to run your factory or office. Standby generators are permanently installed outside by a professional such as ourselves, while a portable generator can be stored inside if required, but must be taken outside in order to operate. Standby generators can run on petrol, propane, or natural gas, while portable generators run on petrol.

A standby generator can power everything in the home and can be triggered automatically when a power outage occurs. It will require regular maintenance and will need to be run for 15 minutes every week to keep everything ticking over.

Portable generators do not usually provide as much power, but they can keep the fridge and TV going, and keep the lights on while enabling you to charge your mobile phone and run your laptop. Of course, they need to be moved outside in the event of an outage (unless permanently stored outside) and started manually, so you need to be at home.

At Blades Power Generation we have used generators for sale in the UK and the stock that we have is obviously constantly changing. If you think that investing in a generator is a good idea for your home or business, give us a call to discuss your requirements.

Manual Changeover Switches Available From Blades Power Generation

At Blades Power Generation we are a group of experts who understand that you need to be able to rely on electric power at all times, whether that is in your home, at your office, on your farm, in your garage, or anywhere else. We supply automatic transfer switches that can be either mains to mains or mains to the generator as required.

However, we also understand that you may not need a super-fast transfer to your generator when there is a mains power failure, so we can also supply you with a manual changeover switch if you prefer. We have a range of different manual transfer switches which you can use instead of an ATS. This means that when a power failure occurs, you simply have to throw a lever-like switch to transfer from mains to generator power.

These changeover switches can range from 63 to 3,150 amps and we stock them in different models from manufacturers such as ABB, Bespoke, and Lovato. ABB switches are of compact design and this means that they don’t take up very much space. They have a three-position rotary handle from mains, to off, to the generator. There are also optional extras if you need them, and these are with a rated plug and sockets fitted, LED lights for the main indication, and LED lights for generator indication.

We can also supply a manual transfer switch instead of a manual changeover switch if you wish. A manual changeover switch is wired into your electrical distribution board and allows either all or selected electrical appliances to be powered when there is a power failure. On the other hand, a manual transfer switch is installed next to the electrical panel and can be connected to the circuit as you require.

At Blades Power Generation we can build and install your control panel to any particular design that you need. Every control panel that we design and build adheres strictly to British Standards and incorporates your individual requirements and specification. We use the very latest computer technology to assist in the design and planning.

When we install your control panel it comes with an inspection report and also has an electronic project folder which will ensure that all emails, together with the relative documents and certification are easily traceable in future years.

Power Outages Seem Likely To Get Worse

Many people never think about electricity. It is just something that is there when we turn the lights on or want to turn up the heating, and we never give it any further consideration.

Nonetheless, according to a report on January 6th, the UK market is “showing signs of strain”. It stated that for the fourth time this winter just past, National Grid warned that the buffer needed to keep the lights on and ensure continuity of supply was too small. The report continued that, as on Wednesday that week, when the wind didn’t blow and cold weather boosted demand at the same time that several nuclear plants were offline, the grid operator was scrambling to avoid blackouts.

Furthermore, things are only likely to get worse. The government is planning to quadruple the amount of offshore wind capacity in the next nine years. And when the winds don’t blow, those turbines will produce nothing. Certainly, there are backup systems in place, but National Grid needs to get better at balancing the system when the renewables are not functioning.

According to Weijie Mak, project leader at Aurora Energy Research Ltd, “As the U.K. continues to rely on intermittent renewables, you need to have more and more backup capacities in place. You get into this issue where it’s harder and harder to manage the system.”

This all seems to indicate that power outages are going to become more common rather than less. Sure, if the power goes down for an hour or two while you are watching Corrie, it can be frustrating, but it is hardly life-changing. You can always catch up with it later.

However, if you run a business and the power goes down in the middle of a manufacturing process it can at the least cost you lost hours of work, and at the worst may cost thousands if the product you are creating is not able to be finished and you have to start all over with a fresh set of materials.

The answer is to have a standby generator or two and if you want to buy new generators in the UK you need to talk to Blades Power Generation. As specialists in the sale and supply of generators, we have a full range of generators that will do everything from keeping Corrie running to keeping a full factory running – many with ATS (Automatic Transfer switch) so that you will be back to full power within seconds of the utility going down. Talk to us if you want to buy new generators in the UK.

Being Without Power For A Fortnight Is No Fun At All!

Not everyone will remember the Great Storm of October 15th/16th 1987, but this writer remembers it only too well. At the time I had a flourishing business that operated nationally and managed to achieve what is many people’s dream – the big house in the country.

I lived in a small village (pop. 2,000) in Kent in a large Victorian house built in 1882 surrounded by fields and woodland. In the summer the fields were full of young bullocks and in the winter full of sheep. I remember the Great Storm vividly because trees were felled all over the village and we couldn’t get out to drive to work. My wife and son were away in our seaside apartment.

The bad news was that all our power went down. There were not enough electricians to carry out all the repairs, so after three or four days, many were shipped over from Northern Ireland to help out. The freezer was full of food, but that all had to be thrown away very quickly. But never mind, we were promised that power would be restored soon.

Gradually, homes from the outside of the village on my road running into the village centre got power back on. So did homes running from the village centre down towards mine. But there were about ten of us still with no power.

And so it was for thirteen days! The nights were drawing in and we were sitting in the dark. No TV. No washing machine. No electric cooker (fortunately we had an Aga as well).

If I had only known about – or even thought about – getting an emergency power source in the UK. But it never occurred to me. Certainly, we did get occasional power outages from time to time, but only for a few hours, so nothing too serious. But thirteen days!

It turned out that the electricians working from the village centre towards the other lot working from outside the village had somehow between them missed out our ten houses in the middle!

Speaking from experience, I wouldn’t recommend anyone to be without an emergency power source in the UK. At Blades Power Generation you can find a generator that will kick in automatically when your power goes down, and there are also other models that need to be started manually. But don’t find yourself stuck out in the sticks with no power for nearly two weeks!

Some Of The Many Uses of Generators In The UK

Generators have many uses, not the least of which is being able to produce electrical power in the case of a power outage. While we all tend to think that if we want light, we only have to press a switch, there can be times when we operate a switch and for one reason or another the light doesn’t come on.

For instance, on January 1st 1974 the three day week came into being. Electricity was largely produced from burning coal in those days, and the miners’ strike meant that electricity had to be rationed in order to conserve coal stocks. Businesses were only allowed to open for three days a week to reduce energy consumption. Those that needed to continue to use electricity – whether open or not - had to rely on generators in order to operate.

Many manufacturing companies, and others, rely on electrical power and cannot afford to risk power outages which could cost them a lot in lost orders, and so they will have a generator or two that kicks in if the power goes down.

As one might imagine, building sites are often in a situation where they have no power available, and therefore have to rely on generators in order to power table saws, drills, grinders, and other power tools that are necessary in order to carry out the work. Generators are often used in farming where it is necessary to run irrigation systems in fields far from an electric power cable, along with other things such as barn heaters to keep cattle from freezing, and chicken barn heaters to keep the production of eggs flowing.

Other situations where generators are used routinely are fairgrounds in the summer, which may run in a field or park for just a weekend, but nonetheless require electrical power for music, lights, ice cream stalls, rides, bouncy castles, and more.

If you are looking for generators, at Blades Power Generation we supply them new, but you can also buy used generators in the UK through us as well. We always have used generators in stock which we buy in and refurbish, and which have the obvious benefit of being less expensive than brand new. Indeed, if you want a generator simply for backup for your home or business, you would do well to buy used generators in the UK as opposed to investing in a new one.

Automatic Transfer Switches: Purpose And Function

Much as our electricity suppliers do their best to keep power available on a continuous basis, there are, nonetheless, occasions when the power fails. This can be for one of many different reasons, but when it happens to you it can be anything from a bit of a nuisance to an outright disaster. It rather depends upon your situation.

For instance, if you were watching a programme on TV, it may be annoying, but it is hardly going to be life-changing. However, if you were a surgeon in the middle of a tricky operation when that same power outage occurred and all the lights went out, that can be extremely dangerous for the patient.

Furthermore, power outages can occur for a few minutes or may continue for many days. For example, after the Great Storm of 1987 many people were without power for up to two weeks as engineers worked to get power lines back up and working again. This is why some sort of backup is vital in many situations, and for many people, the answer is a generator. At Blades Power Generation, we supply both new and used generators.

Since one doesn’t want to have run outside to the generator in order to start it up, the answer is what is known as an automatic transfer switch, or ATS as it is known. Power backup is often by a generator but can also be a second mains supply. In the latter case, the primary power supply into a building is backed up by a secondary supply and the ATS changes over to that instead of a generator.

If using a generator for the secondary supply, it is essential to check it and give it a test run on a regular basis so that one can be confident that it will perform as required if there is an outage.

Of course, there are many situations where power is required other than simply inside a home or other building. For instance, if there is an outage in an area, all of the streetlights and traffic lights would go out. This means that traffic slows to a crawl at crossroads, car accidents increase, and emergency services cannot get to where they need to be. An automatic transfer switch overcomes these issues.

Of course, there is another issue, and that is that the power can be restored at any moment. When this happens, it can be dangerous, as there would be a power overload and this can cause wiring and appliances to burn. However, the ATS works both ways, so that as soon as power is restored it switches back again and allows the generator, if one is being used, to rest.