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How Generators Work With Automatic Transfer Switches

Mike Jeffries | January 21, 2019

generatorPeople in South Florida generally accept that living and working in the sunshine state is a whole lot easier when you have a generator. The generator is your first line of defense against the bad weather we see in and out of hurricane season. But, not everyone is aware that when you combine an Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS) with your generator, you now have a solution that takes your reliability up to a whole new level.

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What is an ATS?

An ATS is pretty much exactly what its name implies, a switch that automatically transfers power. When used in conjunction with a generator, it provides your facility or home with the ability to have an automatic transfer of the load that is typically fed by your utility power company to your standby generator. If you're in the middle of your business day, this makes it so you don't have to drop everything to go out and start up your generator and deal with manually transferring your loads. Some ATS's also have the ability to transfer should the frequency of the utility power be out of range, or if the utility voltage goes above the maximum allowed for your load.

How does the ATS work?

The control panel detects the drop or absence of voltage and then initiates the transfer from the primary source (utility) to the secondary source (generator). There is a time delay from the time utility power fails to when the load is completely transferred over to the generator. This can be configured at the site, and if there is potential for the load to be damaged or for there to be too much impact from the time delay, an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) can be used to bridge the gap. When power is restored, the ATS will send the load back onto utility power and power down your generator.

What are the benefits of an ATS?

There's more to an ATS than just convenience. Time is money, and this can be especially true during a power outage. An ATS can save you from data loss due to servers that become damaged due to sudden power loss. If you're running a retail business, an ATS can keep your registers and communications systems online - systems that can take a very long time to reboot if they are without power during the time it would take to manually transfer them to a generator. In a medical setting, an ATS means critical equipment continues to function, including life-support devices and medicine storage systems.

What do I need to know to choose an ATS?

Since the ATS has to be a good fit for both your standby generator and the load that the ATS will support, we recommend working with a company like Mader Electric to ensure the best ATS for your site. We will look at the size of your load, the type of equipment or devices the generator / ATS solution will support, the transfer time required for your load, and the type of management capability you would like to have over your ATS. You can choose an ATS that will support only some of your typical electrical load or one that will take over every circuit in your panel. There are ATS's that allow for remote manual control and have LED displays that can be used to configure and manage the switch. An ATS can also be used in a residence. Residential units are sized for the smaller loads and lower voltages.


Mader Electric has been serving South Florida since 1983. We specialize in all aspects of automation, installing and servicing equipment from the top manufacturers. Contact us to find out what we can do for you.


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