How to Protect Equipment during Power Loss
Power loss can be a temporary glitch, or it can seriously affect day-to-day operations and damage equipment. Blackouts are a complete loss of power. Brownouts are a significant reduction in power. Both can cause surges and put equipment at risk.
Power outages happen due to any number of reasons and for any length of time. It could be due to the weather, equipment malfunctioning, or an accident. Planning should take place well in advance of any potential issue that could be prevented or mitigated.
Make a list of critical equipment and what you will do for backup if you lose power. Keep in mind that if you lose power, you may also lose heat – even if you have a gas- or oil-powered system. To prepare for a power interruption, it’s important that you know your electrical system. If you do not have one-line diagrams that represent the power configuration of your system, have them drawn up by an expert. This can help churches and schools to identify critical loads in order to use generators and to protect equipment.
Keep a hard copy of your one-line diagram because if a power loss occurs, you may not be able to access it if it is only in digital form. And, keep a duplicate of this and other emergency preparedness information both in your emergency kit and in a location outside of the church.
Data loss and computer problems can also happen when power goes out, so make sure to plan how you’ll protect and re-start equipment if there is a problem.
Generators can keep things going
Some organizations hard-wire a permanent stand-by generator to power necessary equipment. Others set up rental agreements with local generator vendors in case of power outage.
Emergency arrangements with vendors should include a contingency plan because it is possible that a vendor may be facing their own challenges and not be able to reach you.
If you own a generator but it isn’t hardwired into your system, you need to know how to connect it during the power outage. Make sure that you have written procedures that explain how to connect each generator to its emergency loads and that the plan is in accordance with all national and local electrical codes.
If your staff is not trained to do this kind of work, make an arrangement with a contractor who can provide these services when they become necessary. Always use a licensed electrician to set up your generators because serious injuries can occur if it is done improperly.
Additionally, churches and schools should keep spare components, such as spark plugs for emergency generators powered by gasoline, on hand.
Protect against surges
Whether a power interruption lasts only a few seconds or several hours, surges can occur before, during, and after a power interruption. You can install a surge protection device on the incoming electrical service of a building in order to reduce the damage that might happen. Surge suppression equipment usually only costs about $200 but could prevent thousands of dollars’ worth of damage.
When an outage occurs
- Reduce damage by turning electrical equipment off during power outages.
- Open circuit breakers to cut power flow to critical equipment in case of surges.
- Once power returns, close circuit breakers and disconnect switches closest to the supply source first.
Power outages can happen anytime. But, if you prepare for the possibility of losing power – and protect your equipment – they don’t need to be anything but a small glitch.