Basic Emergency Power Systems

SKU: RVI-11486Duration: 20 Minutes

Business today relies on technology to achieve its goals, profitability and continuous improvement. The technology businesses use relies on consistent, dependable electricity to power devices such as: computers, phone systems, training equipment, metal detectors, HVAC systems, pumps, elevators, presses, assembly lines, heart monitors, lights, incubators, battery chargers, and virtually every other electro-mechanical device in use today. The difficulty comes when the electricity we depend on to keep all our devices functioning, stops. The stoppage can be due to natural or man-made disasters, a failure of the electric generation or distribution system, or something as simple as a blown circuit breaker or other failed electrical component. When the normal, dependable flow of electricity is interrupted, we very quickly realize how heavily dependent we are on that electricity. This course will give you the basics regarding what a standby power system consists of, how it should be monitored and maintained, and some recommendations for inspections and testing. This course is intended for building maintenance technicians, building managers, engineers and other building or management-related roles, or, anyone else with an interest in standby power systems.

Course Details

Specs

Training Time: 20 minutes

Compatibility: Desktop, Tablet, Phone

Based on: Industry Standards and Best Practices

Languages: English

Learning Objectives

  • Identify the type of fuel used in most building connected emergency generators
  • State the basic purpose and function of a transfer switch
  • List all the items that should be inspected prior to starting a generator
  • Select the liquid that should be used to fill deep cycle battery cells
  • Determine how full battery cells should be
  • Recognize how to operate a block heater
  • Name the energy source that enables a generator to start
  • Sequence the steps that are taken to transfer to emergency power
  • Explain why engine coolant is kept warm on an offline generator

Key Questions

The following key questions are answered in this module:

What is the purpose of an automatic transfer switch (ATS)?
The ATS is an electro-mechanical device which has power connected to its separate, isolated inputs from both the electric utility and the standby generator. The ATS output is connected to the "load" side of the building electrical supply.

What are the two major categories of widely used standby power systems?
The two major categories of widely used standby power systems are generators and uninterruptible power sources (UPS).

What are the basic items that should be checked before starting a generator?
The basic items that should be checked before starting a generator include the engine oil level, the coolant level, the battery fill level, the fuel system (for leaks) and the exhaust system (for breaks or leaks).

What is the functionality of an engine block heater?
Almost all generator engines are designed to use what is known as "block heaters", which must be connected, and kept operational all the time, especially when the generator is in a stand-by mode (not running). Block heaters are powered by normal line power.

What are the ATS steps of manually switching from the utility-supplied power to generated power?
The ATS steps of manually switching from the utility-supplied power to generated power include verifying utility power is interrupted, starting the generator, changing the transfer switch from utility feed to generator feed, and verifying power is now going to load.

Sample Video Transcript

Below is a transcript of the video sample provided for this module:

There are really two major categories of widely used standby power systems; generators and UPS. I’m only addressing generators in this course. So, what’s a generator? The generators in this course is talking about are a type of rotating machine, which, by design, generate electricity when rotated at a certain speed by some type of motor or engine. The generator portion of this system is generally a very robust, reliable device, which, when operating, puts out up to a specified amount of current at a voltage consistent with the voltage of the system it is feeding. Today, the electronic regulating devices built into most generators, allow it to put out electricity in a form which is indistinguishable from the normal, utility-supplied power. Having this power-conditioning included in the generator is especially important when feeding sensitive electronics and most small motors, during a utility outage. Most generators are rotated, or spun, by internal combustion engines. These engines can be designed to use one (sometimes two; also known as “dual fuel”) of several different types of fuels, such as: gasoline, diesel fuel, natural gas, or propane. However, the most common generator fuel is diesel fuel. This is due to the fact that diesel fuel is readily available, easily stored and not easily ignited. The internal combustion engines used in generators are very similar to the engines used in your car or truck, with just a couple of modifications. Those modifications allow the generator engine to start-up very quickly and to run at a fixed speed for many hours, or days, without undue wear and tear on the engine. Like most internal combustion engines, generator engines are normally started by using a lead-acid storage battery. Almost all generator engines are designed to use what is known as “block heaters”, which must be connected, and kept operational all the time, especially when the generator is in a stand-by mode (not running). Block heaters are powered by normal line power. If the block heater doesn’t run all the time, there is a good possibility, particularly in colder climates, that the engine lifespan would be shortened considerably, as it must come up to full RPM’s as soon as it is started. Your typical automobile engine wouldn’t last long if, when started cold, it was revved up to a high RPM right away, and this procedure was repeated every few days. To prolong the engine life in a generator, the block heater is used to keep the engine coolant warm, but, even more important, this keeps the engine lubricating oil at a free-flowing temperature, allowing it to circulate properly as soon as the engine is started, thereby facilitating quicker starting of the engine and maximizing engine life.
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