Blog posts tagged with 'Manual Changeover Switch'

Standby Generators Are Becoming More Important In Today’s World

In today’s world we are almost totally dependent upon electricity – far more so than even 50 years ago. Back in the day, we didn’t have computers, but today it is almost impossible to run a business without one. Even a local convenience store which deals largely with cash may not need a laptop for the actual serving of customers, but you can bet that the owner has one for ordering stock and supplies, keeping track of stock levels, and so on. Electricity is also necessary to keep the fridges running. So, electricity is vital.

However, with the increase in the use of electricity comes the possibility of more power outages. This is increased further by climate change which seems to be bringing us more frequent and very heavy storms, which in turn can bring down power lines. So, if you run any sort of business, it makes sense to invest in a standby generator in order that you can keep going when the power doesn’t.

Used Generators

But you don’t have to invest in a brand new one if you only run a small business or need one for your home. You can buy used generators in the UK for considerably less than a new one. In fact, when you buy used generators in the UK it is just like buying a used car. Sure, if you can afford the very latest swanky Mercedes Benz or a Roller, then you might want to buy one. But a second-hand Nissan Juke will get you around just as well.

You can buy used generators in the UK for under £500 at Blades Power Generation. Of course, you then have to add in the cost of installation as well. And you will need a transfer switch. This is a legal requirement because it stops the mains power coming into contact with the generator, which would almost certainly burn out if this happened. It also stops the generator from back feeding the mains when it has failed, endangering the lives of electricity utility workers.

You can buy an automatic transfer switch (ATS) or a manual transfer switch. An automatic transfer switch does what it says on the tin, so when the power goes down it will fire up the generator and you will have power back on within seconds. However, a manual transfer switch costs a lot less than an ATS. It does mean, of course that you have to fire up the generator and then switch over. This is OK if someone is on the premises but could prove difficult if you need to keep the power running even though you are not there. You need to consider your options. 

Should You Buy A Generator For Your Home?

More and more people today are investing in a standby generator for their homes because of the possibility of greater numbers of power outages. There is a definite increase in violent storms, the like of which we have not seen since October 15th 1987, and these can bring down power lines and cause blackouts.

Buying and installing a standby generator for your home or business will give you the peace of mind that you know you will still have power if or when the worst happens.

To some extent, a standby generator is a matter of choice. For some people, even one blackout is enough to warrant a purchase, but if you live in an area with frequent (more than three a year) or long blackouts, then it becomes something of a necessity.

Generators come in different sizes, depending upon the mount of power that you need. This is not just related to the size of your home, but more to the complexity, or otherwise, of your electrical system, especially if you have air conditioning. You will need an electrician to calculate the size of generator that you need.

Manual or Automatic Changeover Switches?

You also need to decide whether to install a manual changeover switch or buy an automatic transfer switch in the UK. If you have a manual changeover switch, it means that when the power goes down you will have to manually start the generator and then switch over when it is up and running. That’s OK if you are at home or on your business premises when the power goes down, but it means that if you are not at home then there will be no electricity. In turn, that means that your fridge and freezer won’t be running, along with anything else such as a water heater or the heater that keeps the tank of your pet gecko at the right temperature.

If you buy an automatic transfer switch in the UK, then that will detect the power outage, fire up the generator and then automatically switch over, so your home is only without power for a matter of seconds.

Manual Transfer Switch For Your Generator Or Automatic? Which Is Best?

One of the biggest arguments for buying a standby generator is that you will always have electricity, no matter what. So, any issues with the electricity supply will not affect you.

This is becoming more and more important in this day and age, particularly with climate change. As we have seen very recently, there have been some very large and powerful storms that have affected homes and businesses in the North-West and Scotland, and it seems that these could become more commonplace. Some homes have been without electricity for as long as two weeks.

When you have a generator as a backup to your business, you can forget about time and productivity losses, because your generator can kick in and take over while the power is down. And there can be more to it than time and productivity losses, because when there is a sudden power outage it can cause serious damage to devices and machinery when the power comes back on if there is a power surge, yet this can be avoided if there is a power backup.

You can also cut down on your electricity consumption in a business by using a generator as a backup during peak hours. Some studies have shown that you can save as much as 40% during this time slot.

A Range Of Sizes

Backup generators come in a range of different sizes, and in order to establish what you need, whether for your home or business, you will need a qualified electrician to calculate the amount of power required. The cost of a 1kW generator is only around £300: a 7kW one would be about £2,000, a 15kW one £6,000, and so on. To this, you need to add the cost of installation which can be around another £1,000.

Now we said that you will always have electricity, and this may, or may not, be true. It depends upon the type of transfer switch that you install. You can have a manual transfer switch or an automatic transfer switch.

As you might guess, if you have a manual transfer switch you have to switch over to the generator manually. That means that if you are not on the premises when the power goes down you won’t have electricity, so if you happen to be away on holiday for three or four days, you can say goodbye to the food in the freezer!

However, an automatic transfer switch will detect when the power goes down, fire up the generator, and within a few seconds the lights will be back on. The choice is yours.  

Manual Changeover Switch Or Automatic? Which Is Best?

If you are considering buying a standby generator for your home, which in the light of recent events in the north many homeowners are looking at, there are a number of things to consider.

The first thing is to buy a generator which does what you want, because generators come in different sizes. One answer is to buy the largest size available in order to power the entire home, and if money is no object that could be one solution. However, if you want to buy a generator which only covers the essentials in order to keep costs down, then you will need to make an assessment of your home to purchase a generator which will cover only the essential electrical circuits.

However, sizing generators is not just a question of saying that your home is “x” square feet, so you need an “x” size generator. The complexity of your home’s electrical system also needs to be taken into account, especially if it has air conditioning. You will need an experienced electrician to calculate the electrical loads of your home and recommend he right size of generator.

Once you know this, you can then buy the generator and install it. However, there is also another issue, and that is how the generator starts when the power goes down. When this happens, it is necessary to switch from mains power to generator and it can be done using a manual changeover switch or an automatic one.

With a manual changeover switch you have to physically start the generator, and then when it is up and running one needs to switch from the mains to the generator. This means that there will be a delay while you do this. It also means that if the power goes down when you are not at home there will still be no power until you get back again. This may, or may not matter, depending upon what systems and equipment you use.

However, you can also get an automatic transfer switch. This is more expensive, but the way that it works is that when the power goes down the switch will send a signal to the generator telling it to start up. When the generator is running it will send a signal to the ATS telling it to switch over. When the mains power is restored, the ATS will switch off the generator and transfer back to the mains.  

Manual Changeover Switch -V- Automatic. What’s The Difference?

If you have an emergency generator the good thing is that every time there is a power blackout you can start up your generator and, literally, switch the lights back on.

The way that your generator is turned on can be either manual or automatic and it can be done using a changeover switch, also known as a transfer switch. In fact, it is a legal requirement that if you have a standby generator, you have to have a changeover switch.

This is for two main reasons. It separates the power from the two different sources. You can either have power from the mains or you can have power from the generator, but not both, at the same time.

If you did not have a changeover switch and you started your generator and then the mains came back on again while the generator was running it would almost certainly burn your generator out. The other way around, it prevents the generator feeding power back into the mains when electricity workers are trying to restore the power, which could endanger their lives.

What’s The Difference?

So, what is the difference between a manual changeover switch and an automatic one? Well. think of it as of the gearbox in your car. It can either be manual or automatic. If you have a manual gearbox, every time you want to change gear you have to depress the clutch, shift the gear lever, and let the clutch out again. If you have an automatic gearbox, it does all that for you.

A manual changeover switch means that you have to switch over by hand. You also have to start the generator, which is probably in the garden, and it could be pouring with rain! In fact, it very likely would be, because the power often goes down as the result of a storm.

An automatic changeover switch detects that the mains power has gone down, switches over, and starts the generator automatically.

You are far better off with an automatic changeover switch because there is no time delay. When the power goes down you will be back up and running in seconds. You don’t get wet in the pouring rain. It also works when you are away from home. If nobody is at home and you need the power on and have a manual switch, that power is going to stay off until you return.

There is only one advantage to having a manual switch and that is that it is cheaper to purchase. That aside, there is no contest.

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.

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.