What Is The Difference Between Emergency And Standby Power?

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April 17, 2021


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  • The National Electrical Code has clearly defined conditions used to classify electrical backup systems. Whether to use batteries or generators is beside the point in this discussion since the main objective is to ensure critical areas are addressed first. For example: What kind of backup system would be used in a hospital? What classification would that be in? What other system would be suitable for a business that provides essential services? To classify them correctly, the NEC uses health and safety as a priority. Our customers come to us at Long Island Emergency Power for all their generator sales, repair, maintenance, and warranty issues, and we repay them with never-ending commitment. When dealing with energy regulatory commissions, you need to know the technical differences between emergency and standby power. Here’s how you’ll be able to know the difference.

    Emergency Power

    The NFPA 110, the standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems in the United States, requires that emergency power systems provide power within 10 seconds of regular power loss. Emergency power is only for those systems that are actively responsible for protecting the lives of the building occupants. Naturally, emergency response systems include elevators, smoke evacuation systems, etc. Generators are the most common application in this area, although accumulated electrical energy in battery packs is another popular alternative. The power systems that provide emergency electricity are mandated by regulation to be installed separately.

    Legally Required Standby Systems

    This category of legally required standby systems falls immediately below the emergency power. Such systems should provide power within 60 seconds of the outage. Some services do not necessarily require emergency power but are essential to critical services such as firefighting, ventilation systems, or services whose absence could lead to catastrophes. Standby systems are not required by regulators to be separately installed.

    Optional Standby Systems

    As the name suggests, optional standby systems are only included if the user or owner deems it necessary. The category covers services that are essential for a business to run effectively, i.e., business-critical services. Installation can be done separately or, more commonly, shared with other legally required standby systems. The NEC employs the least stringent measures under this last category.

    Critical Operations Systems

    Critical Operations Power Systems is a new addition to the emergency power family due to the 9/11 terrorist incident and hurricane Katrina. COPS are required in systems that directly impact the economy, public safety, and health or national security. Under disastrous conditions, designated critical operations areas are established, and corresponding power systems are brought online.

    What Type of Equipment Qualifies to Be On Backup Power?

    The design of a backup facility is essential to ensure preparedness in the event of an outage. It makes economic and practical sense to have only a few electrical components connected to the backup power service to provide more extended service. Generally speaking, equipment that could endanger public health if a power outage occurs is considered first, e.g., elevators, fire mitigation systems, and smoke evacuation systems. For hospitals, life support machines are the top priority for standby power. At the same time, radio systems are given high regard for police stations and fire stations.

    The Different Types of Backup Power Supplies

    Backup generators are internal combustion engines whose output is connected to the circuitry of the establishment. The engines used are either turbine or reciprocating engines. The latter are more widely used due to their economic nature and the fact that they startup much faster. Generators burn fuels to produce electricity (diesel, gasoline, or natural gas) and usually have a power rating of 5 KiloWatts to 1 MegaWatt. However, some variations use steam or gas turbines.

    Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)

    The UPS is a device that provides backup power for a limited amount of time immediately after an outage. Two types exist depending on the method of function: the flywheel UPS and the battery system. The UPS serves to eliminate the gap between an outage and supply from backup generators or batteries. Due to its immediacy, the UPS is mostly used in computers, where even a short gap in power could lead to file losses. However, hospitals and critical service providers use them in their communication devices. IN addition to the backup power, Uninterruptible Power Supply systems also provide clean power to the devices they are connected to, hence protecting them from other anomalies such as power surges.

    Do You Need Emergency or Standby Power?

    The best way to find out which alternative you need is to have a thorough discussion with the relevant experts. After you have the basics and some of the more technical information, it is then up to you to decide which option to go for and which of your appliances to connect.

    Also Read- Signs your Electric Panel Needs to be Updated

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