Understanding Your Emergency System
Nobody likes to be in the dark. Losing power can be a huge inconvenience to normal operations and lead to frustration in staff and tenants. And when it comes to critical systems in hospitals or data centers, every second counts.
In the event that your building loses power, do you know what would happen? What do your emergency systems look like? What comes back online? How long will it take? How long will it last? These are all critical questions to have answered if you aren’t quite familiar with your Emergency Power Supply System.
Generally speaking, your Emergency Power Supply is a permanent installation that will provide a source of electric power that matches your required capacity and quality to be used in your system (NFPA 110 3.3.3). When you see or hear Emergency Power Supply or EPS, know that it is in reference to a standby generator that is independent of your primary source of power.
The full Emergency Power Supply System, or EPSS, is your entire “backup plan” during a loss of power. This system will consist of your generator, automatic transfer switch, load terminals, protection devices, controls, and emergency lighting (3.3.4). Your EPSS may even provide power to elevators, fire pumps, and communication systems, but the main goal of this system is to have a safe and reliable source of power.
Every system will be a little different depending on the needs of the facility. And as such, each system will fall into a different Class, Type, and Level. Hospitals for instance are a Level 1 system, as the loss of power can result in serious injury or the loss of life. Level 2 systems are installed where failure is less critical to safety and the loss of lives. Now, you could argue that a data center for a hospital can be considered Level 1 if it handles information critical to ongoing operations such as prescriptions for patients, but if the data center handles mainly administrative information for the hospital, then it could remain Level 2. And this is an interesting look into what makes EPSS so interesting and critical; the number of applicable standards from NFPA that these systems need to be in compliance with is impressive (70, 70E, 99, 101, 110, 111).
Your EPSS Type will determine the maximum number of seconds your Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS) will be without power, which is essentially your ATS’s target time to transfer power from your primary source to the EPS. Your ATS is really the brains of the operation here, so it is absolutely critical to have your ATS maintained properly. The EPSS Class refers to the number of hours your system is designed to operate before it needs to be refueled.
There are many variables that can contribute to a power outage or a major blackout. We can try to control the internal sources through proper maintenance and testing of our electrical systems, but you can’t stop nature’s storms. The only sure-fire way to keep your facility running when you lose power, is to make your Emergency Power Supply System more reliable than normal power.
If you are unsure when your EPSS was last tested or serviced, or need more information regarding Emergency Power, don’t hesitate to contact us for help!