Why Some Electrical Contractors Won’t Touch an ATS

Brains meet brawn

An automatic transfer switch (ATS)—often called the “brains” of an emergency power system—ensures power is maintained to critical loads if utility power is lost. The ATS monitors utility power continuously and will transfer to a backup generator when the voltage from utility power falls below predetermined levels.

The ATS is among the most critical components of an emergency power system. However, like with all essential electrical equipment, comprehensive training and certifications are required to work on automatic transfer switches.

But not all electrical providers are created equal. Providing emergency power services is a highly specialized niche industry. Without proper training and certification, handling an ATS could create a huge liability for both the electrician and the facility owner.

This blog from EPC Electric walks through how an ATS works, why it’s dangerous and in need of an ATS expert, and what you should do if you need ATS installation or maintenance.

It’s complicated

The three main components of an ATS are:

  • The transfer mechanism — This component switches the circuits between utility and standby/emergency power source.
  • The logic controller — Monitors the voltage and frequency of both sources and decides when to transfer.
  • Typical electrical connections —  Includes various connection terminals, disconnects, fuse blocks, and source power for the logic controller.

These components can be arranged in nearly limitless configurations and form factors. In other words, there’s significant room for error. Suffice to say, an ATS is a highly sophisticated device and requires training and experience to test, troubleshoot, and maintain properly.

Dangerous liaisons

Automatic transfer switches come in varying configurations and sizes. For example, small ATSs  power portable or remote operations,  while large, 4,000 amp ATSs support high-rise buildings. Remember, just 0.5 amps are enough to be lethal, so special care is required no matter the size of the ATS.

Maintaining and troubleshooting an ATS means the technician will need to get in close—being that close to that much power without the proper training is out of the question.

When an untrained or unlicensed technician accesses an ATS, the dangers are substantial. For example, the threat of arc flash rises exponentially when an ATS is accessed inappropriately. The arc flash is an accidental electrical explosion or discharge from an air-to-ground connection. The electrical arc shoots out of the power line or piece of exposed live equipment at lightning-fast speed and produces a flare of heat hotter than the sun’s surface.

Get on the train(ing)

At EPC, we know that staying up to date on the latest training and certification leads to safer working conditions and reduces future liability for our clients. Sadly, we’ve seen firsthand the result of what happens when ATS and arc flash procedures aren’t taken seriously.

To that end, all EPC technicians are trained and certified to the highest standards in the industry, including:

  • NFPA 110 Standard for Emergency and Standby Power
  • NFPA 70B Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance
  • NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace

Trust the experts. Trust EPC.

Automatic transfer switches are potentially dangerous and volatile pieces of electrical equipment. Thorough training and certifications are required to install, modify, and maintain an ATS safely. Most electrical contractors won’t touch an ATS simply because they lack the necessary skill. At EPC Electric, we follow the highest standards and strictest safety protocols to protect the well-being of our technicians, our clients’ personnel and property, and the general public.

Contact EPC today to learn more about our work and how we can help. We service all brands and types of emergency power systems, and our work adheres to the strict guidelines of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

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