Blog posts of '2021' 'July'

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.