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Accomplish uninterruptible power supply with emergency power

There are several scenarios like a severe storm, maintenance work on the power lines or a network overload that can cause a sudden power failure. In a worst-case scenario, power outages can, for example, cause mortal danger in hospitals. They can also lead to serious economic damage, such as in server farms. Emergency power systems are used to safeguard the power supply in these scenarios. These systems can start within seconds of power failure. There are different emergency generator designs and some are also available for domestic use.

 

When is emergency power deployed?

You deploy emergency power when the power supply breaks down, but you want to guarantee a continuous power supply for vital, safety-related or economic reasons. The emergency power system deployed must immediately take over the power supply to avoid damage caused due to a power failure. In various environments an uninterruptible power supply is mandated and must be guaranteed, e.g. operations, patient monitoring, dialysis, the operation of computer servers or traffic control.

Not only power failures but also power fluctuations can cause considerable damage. Reasons for power fluctuations can be undervoltage, overvoltage, frequency changes or harmonic distortion. To avoid damage caused by power fluctuations, emergency power is usually not drawn from emergency power generators, but from special devices for uninterruptible power supply (UPS). UPS devices are equipped with rechargeable batteries. They can already start when power fluctuations exceed a few milliseconds. UPS devices are available in different power ranges depending on their operational purpose. They can be coupled with emergency power generators.

 

Operating principle of an emergency generator

An emergency generator operates on the principle of a combustion engine. Its tank must be filled with a sufficient amount of fuel to generate the required emergency power for several hours. The emergency generators engine creates energy by burning fuel. The connected generator passes the generated electricity on to the connected consumers. The generator is started either by wire rope hoist, compressed air or an electric starter depending on the type. The electric starter requires a separate battery. Once the emergency generator is up and running the electrical appliances that need to be supplied with power can be connected. Emergency generators operated with petrol or diesel have to be powered up first and then have to run for a defined time to ensure an adequate supply of emergency power. For vital and business-critical operational purposes uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems are used. They bridge the time between the mains power failure and the start-up and readiness of the emergency generator to take over.


A key difference between emergency power and back-up power

A power system that can be operated without interruptions is referred to as emergency power. The emergency power system must start up within milliseconds. Power is provided via a separate connection in the event of a power failure. The consumers must be connected manually to the emergency generator.

Back-up power is used to provide consumers with power in an emergency. However, unlike emergency power, the provision of power is not time-critical. The technical requirements for providing back-up power are less compared to emergency power. Back-up power is, therefore, a more cost-effective solution and best suited for private households.

Tip: If you use a photovoltaic system to supply power for your home, you will not be spared from power failures as the photovoltaic system has to switch off. If you add back-up power and battery storage to your PV -system, it will stay operational. Your home will reliably and safely be supplied with power.

You require an adequate storage system for the supply of backup power. In case of a public grid outage, you can continue to supply power to your consumers via your in-house battery storage system. Your PV- system can continue to recharge the battery storage during a power failure. The resulting back-up power network for your home can be provided in either one or three phases.


Where is emergency power deployed?

Emergency power is deployed wherever an uninterrupted power supply is required, and even brief power fluctuations could lead to considerable damage or death. It is typically deployed across the following sectors:

- Hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis centres
- Server rooms and data centres
- Chemical plants
- Railway control centres
- Traffic control systems
- Transformer stations
- Nuclear power stations


The German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) uses mobile emergency power systems. The devices are portable or mounted on trailers. Emergency power systems used by the THW are usually driven by four-stroke engines. Some older models still use a two-stroke engine. These mobile systems are also utilised by fire brigades and civil protection forces. Mobile emergency power devices with a three-phase power connection are used during disaster relief and in areas without power supply. Aircraft also rely on mobile aggregates for their on-board power supply.


Do we require emergency power in Germany?

The public power supply grid in Germany is well developed, and power outages are rare. Network operators make every effort to avoid power outages as far as possible. Despite the network operators precautionary measures, power outages can never be completely ruled out. Extreme weather events are becoming increasingly more frequent across various regions in Germany, for example, on the coast. In extreme cases, a power failure can extend to several days and the affected region is without power supply. We need to ensure that the supply of electricity is guaranteed, where it is essential for survival and public safety. This is why we cannot do without emergency power in Germany.


Some countries deploy emergency power frequently.

A typical example of a country with the need for emergency power is the USA, which faces frequent extreme weather events. Emergency power systems are also widely deployed in the developing world and emerging countries. These countries have either no general power grid, yet or if it exists, it is not yet fully developed.

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Back-up power is more beneficial for domestic use.

The use of a back-up power system is more cost-effective for private households compared with an emergency power system. You do not have to start an emergency generator first. A battery storage system that provides back-up power can easily be combined with a PV-system.

Tip: Inquire about back-up power systems that have low installation costs and where the battery storage continues to be charged by the PV-system, even during a power failure.


Conclusion: Emergency power enables an uninterrupted power supply

Power outages can cause life-threatening scenarios in hospitals or dialysis centres. They can also cause serious economic damage across a wide range of private and public enterprises. Emergency power can secure adequate power supply within milliseconds in the event of a power failure. Emergency power generators are deployed together with uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems. Emergency power generators can also be used in private households. For owners of a photovoltaic system deploying back-up power can be more beneficial and cost-effective than using emergency power.

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