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Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS)

Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS)

What is an Automatic Transfer Switch?

An automatic transfer switch or ATS is a method of transferring power from a primary power source to a backup source of electrical power. If the supply of electricity to a facility is interrupted, the switch will automatically start up the backup generator. A constant source of electricity is then provided via a single generator or a series of synchronised generators.

Most automatic transfer switches seek connection to the primary power source by default and will only connect to the alternative power source in the event of a primary source failure or if commanded to do so by an operator.

Why is an Automatic Transfer Switch necessary?

Some facilities require a constant source of power that does not sag or surge. In other words, the power source must remain constant at all times. For hospitals, for example, there cannot be a fail in the utility power source or a reduction in utility load capacity. An automatic transfer switch can be trigged by a reduction in the utility supply load.

How quickly will an Automatic Transfer Switch turn itself on?

Within a few seconds the ATS will sense a loss of power from the grid. The ATS will immediately activate the generator.

When will the Automatic Transfer Switch revert back to the original power source?

When the automatic transfer switch has engaged the backup power source, the ATS will check the utility power source a number of times to make sure there is enough strength and reliability within the current before reverting the power back to the mains supply. The ATS will then set the emergency power supply generator to standby.

How often should an Automatic Transfer Switch be tested?

An automatic transfer switch that is either installed for emergency use or as part of a standby power system should be tested monthly.  

What is the life expectancy of an Automatic Transfer Switch?

An automatic transfer switch can typically last 20 to 25 years however, this depends on the amount of usage the ATS receives. With regular maintenance the ATS can be expected to last up to 100,000 operations.

Can an Automatic Transfer Switch improve generator lifespan?

In some cases where a series of generators are installed in a remote facility without a mains power supply, an automatic transfer switch may be used. When two generator sets are used for prime power an ATS means the generators can equally share run-time. Source power may be periodically alternated between the generators. This improves the life-span of the generators, especially when combined with the correct upkeep and maintenance.

Can an Automatic Transfer Switch work with a portable generator as well as a stationary generator?

Automatic transfer switch can work with any type of generator. However generally, portable and towable generators would have a manual transfer switch. Stationary standby models will use an automatic transfer switch.