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Do You Need A Standby Generator?

The answer to that question is “it depends”. A emergency generator is not a cheap item, but if you have a power blackout it will kick in within seconds and bring power back into your home.

To some extent, whether or not you need an emergency generator is a matter of personal opinion. For some people, even suffering a single power outage can justify the expense, but if you live in an area where there are frequent blackouts or out in the country in a remote area, then a standby generator is more of a must. 

There is also the fact that we are heading towards the use of electric vehicles becoming far more common. While that may be a good thing for the environment, it also means that a lot more people will be charging up batteries. So, you could see a huge surge in the amount of power required at the end of the working day when people get home and plug in their car to charge it. That may well lead to more and more power outages.

What Is The Best Type Of Generator?

So, what is the best emergency power source in the UK? Well, there are two types of generator, those powered by diesel, or they can be powered by natural gas or LPG. They can also be air cooled or liquid cooled. Air cooled are generally less expensive, and smaller, but they are also louder than liquid cooled generators.

You also need to consider the size of generator that you require. A common mistake is to buy the biggest that you can in order to power the whole of the home. In many cases, it would be more sensible and less expensive to buy a generator that produces sufficient power to run the essential circuits in your home – lighting, heating, cooker, water heater, security system if you have one, and the TV and laptop. Also, your electric vehicle if you have one, so that you are not trapped at home.

When you are looking for the best emergency power source in the UK you need to calculate the anticipated electrical load, and you really need an experienced electrician in order to do this. You want a generator that will provide you with the power that you require, but you need to consider the expense involved since there is no point in having a generator that is too large.

Reasons Why You May Wish To Consider A Standby Generator

An emergency power source in the UK is an independent source of electrical power that can provide security and safety to important electrical systems and apparatus in the event of the mains supply failing for one reason or another. A standby power system can include batteries, a power generator, and so on, and they are there to protect life and property in the event of the mains power supply being broken. 

Places such as hospitals rely on a constant supply of power in order to provide medical support to patients and to be able to continue an operation if, for instance, the mains power supply fails in the middle of the procedure. Other places which rely on a constant supply of electrical power include scientific laboratories, computer systems, telecoms, radio and TV stations, and many more.

We also want a constant supply of electricity in our homes. This may not be a situation which is life-threatening, but it can be a nuisance if electric power goes down in the middle of cooking a meal or even just watching a programme on the TV.

 

More Homeowners Are Considering Installation Of A Standby Generator

This is why more and more homeowners are considering the installation of a standby generator so that everything can run as usual even if the mains power is not available. For instance, a homeowner may also be a lover of tropical fish, and these could be lost if mains power is not available for several hours and the water in the tank goes too cold. An emergency power source in the UK in the form of a standby generator can kick in almost instantly when the mains power goes down, especially if an automatic transfer switch is in operation.

Indeed, a transfer switch is a legal requirement if you have a standby generator because there could be danger to electricity supply employees endeavouring to restore power, and there is also a risk to the generator if there is no transfer switch.

Mains power can be lost for a number of reasons, often because of downed lines as a result of poor weather. However, there may also be a malfunction at a sub-station, planned downtime for repairs, or even a grid-wide failure.

Emergency backup can include batteries, and some larger buildings have a gas turbine, but this can take between five and thirty minutes to achieve full power. So, a standby diesel generator is the most common form of backup in the event of mains failure. 

Importance of an Automatic Transfer Switch

If you have a standby generator at your home so that you can still generate electricity when the power fails, then the law requires you to have a transfer switch. This is the case in every country when installing a generator at a property with a mains supply. It can either be a manual transfer switch in the UK or an automatic transfer switch. It doesn’t matter which, but you must have one or the other.

The reason is actually quite simple. When you have a transfer switch it will prevent the generator from back feeding the mains when it has gone down which would put the lives of electricity workers in danger while they are attempting to restore power. It is also good for your generator because it stops mains power from coming into contact with it, which would almost certainly burn out your generator.

One advantage of a manual transfer switch in the UK is that it is cheaper to buy and install than an automatic transfer switch. However, it means that you have to switch it over manually, obviously, which means that there will be a delay in the power supply to your home or business premises.

 

Somebody Needs To Be On The Premises

Not only that, but it also means that somebody needs to be on the premises at the time the mains goes down. In some instances, this may not be much of a problem, but could cause issues if you need a constant supply of power. With an automatic transfer panel, the generator will start up automatically whether you are there or not.

Automatic transfer switches come in a variety of designs, but typically a mains failure relay is fitted in an electrical enclosure, with two contactors. These are electrically and mechanically interlocked so that they cannot both be closed at the same time. The contactors need electric power in order to close.

The mechanical interlock should stop both contactors closing at the same time, but the electrical interlock provides extra protection. A normally closed contact is fitted to each contactor and when the contactor is energised, they open. 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.

What happens is that when the mains fails, the ATS will send a signal to the generator and when it is up to full power the ATS will open the mains contactor and close the generator contactor. When the mains returns, the generator contactor is opened and the mains contactor is closed. This means that there will always be a short break in the power supply when changing over.

Do You Need A Standby Generator For Your Home?

Should you invest in a standby generator in the UK? Well, the fact is that we do have power outages in various areas from time to time, and these are likely to increase over the next few years as we switch over to electric cars. The electricity grid at the moment is just about managing, but as more and more people plug in to charge their cars there can well be more failures.

Furthermore, it is possible that electric vehicle owners may allow a third party to charge their cars for them if this provides them with benefits. All well and good, but if a third-party operator is managing a large number of charging points and charges too many vehicles too quickly it is very possible the electricity grid would not be able to respond fast enough. This is just one of the reasons that you might want to buy a new generator in the UK to deal with these power outages.

To some extent, whether or not you want to buy a new generator in the UK is a matter of personal preference. For some people, even suffering from a single blackout is enough to justify buying a generator, but more often it is the likelihood of suffering from blackouts by which the need is determined. If you live in an area where they occur more frequently, or they go on for a long period when they do, then buying a standby generator makes a lot of sense.

When connected to an automatic transfer switch, your standby generator will kick in straight away and so you would only be without power for a matter of some seconds.

Generators are available in many sizes and can be powered by diesel, natural gas or LPG. Generators can also be air-cooled or liquid-cooled. Air-cooled generators are less expensive, but they are also louder than liquid-cooled, and this may not be a good idea if you live in a tight-knit community.

Your generator also needs to be well-maintained. They can run for many hours just like cars and so need to be maintained in the same way. You need to check the engine oil daily, and if it is running non-stop for several days, as happened during the Great Storm of October 1987, the oil needs to be changed after about ten days along with the filter.

Calculating the size of generator that you need for your home needs to be done by a professional, so if you are in the market for one, talk to us at Blades Power Generation.

Why Must You Have A Transfer Switch If You Have A Generator

If you want to buy an automatic transfer switch in the UK, Blades Power Generation is the place to come. We can supply a very wide range of automatic transfer switches ranging from 25 amp to 2,500 amp so there is bound to be the perfect ATS for your requirements.

A transfer switch, either manual or automatic, is a legal requirement in every country when you install a diesel generator in any premises with a mains electricity supply. When the mains supply fails, the transfer switch is used to start the generator to take over where the mains left off. The purpose of an automatic transfer switch is to do the job automatically, which is much quicker than doing it by hand.

Now in some situations, a delay in restoring power to a building may not be very important. If you are at home watching Coronation Street, you may miss a little of it while someone goes to start the generator with a manual switch. However, in a hospital, a delay in restoring power could be a catastrophe and a matter of life and death.

The reason that a transfer switch is required by law is that it will prevent the mains power from coming into contact with the generator which would probably burn out if that happened, but more importantly, when the power is restored from the mains it prevents the generator from back feeding the mains when it has failed, which could endanger the lives of electricity workers trying to restore power.

When you want to buy an automatic transfer switch in the UK you should know that there are two types – those with mains detection and those without.

An automatic transfer switch with mains detection will monitor the mains supply and when it detects a failure will send a signal to the generator to start. When the generator is ready it will send a signal to the ATS informing it of this and the ATS will then switch to the generator.

If the ATS does not have mains detection, the system needs mains detection built into it somewhere else, normally the generator. When the generator detects a mains failure it will send a signal to the ATS telling it to disconnect from the mains and will then startup. When the generator is ready to connect it will send a signal to the ATS telling it to switch over.

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.