Emergency and Standby Power Supplies for Buildings Paper Example

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1712 Words
Date:  2022-12-22


Engineers ought to consider several factors when it comes to designing backup, standby and emergency power systems. Safety, durability, code compliance and economics play a very vital role in determining the topology (geometrical properties and spatial relations) of an emergency system for a primary facility. Specific requirements are essential based on the building capacity, facility use, and critical function of the establishment.

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High-performance buildings

Undoubtedly, power backup is vital for high-performance buildings. As such, a high performance building integrates on a lifecycle basis, all major high-performance features which include safety, sustainability, energy conservation, durability, accessibility, productivity and functionality among other attributes (Villalba, 2018). In that regard, high-performance buildings include learning institutions, hospitals, data centers, airports, and factories. For these establishments, power backup is a non-negotiable to guarantee the health and security of occupants as well as for operational considerations.

With energy codes becoming more rigorous concerning energy efficiency and rising federal incentives for structures that are environmentally friendly, owners would instead take this route when designing their buildings. As a result, this can be cost-effective when the construction is complete (Vedvik & Winter, 2017). Also, it is important to note that the design of a backup power system for a high-performance building is not so different from a standard structure with the same attributes.

The need for backup power

Power outages can last anywhere from seconds to hours or more. They often strike without caution, plunging business facilities into darkness thus triggering mechanical failures, loss of materials and lost productivity. For many companies, round-the-clock power is essential. For hospitals, for instance, it's a matter of life or death (Titanpower, 2017). For food businesses, the entire stock can be wiped out, and for manufacturing companies, a power failure can cause damages to expensive equipment.

In the event of a power outage in a facility, buildings rely on backup power both for the safety and health reasons. As such, power backup also serves to protect essential business assets that can be lost during a power blackout. Unforeseen tragedies often disrupt the power to thousands of people and companies. Many buildings, such as hospitals, airports, fueling stations, and communication systems to mention a few, require alternative power to save lives in the event of a disaster eventually. Power outage to any industry also can create significant economic losses. The longer business stays without power, the more significant the economic impact. When these unanticipated situations occur, backup power offers an alternative to support the equipment loads via uninterruptible power systems, generators, or battery systems.

In this regard, some of the advantages of backup power include:

  • Protection from theft-An extended power outage exposes your facility to break-ins and looting in the long run (NRG Editorial Voices, n.d.). Alternative power sources protect your premises from potential intruders.
  • Protection from hacking- Cybersecurity cases are on the rise. As such, a power backup system will ensure that you combat these threats.
  • Maintains the businesses' reputation- being always open for business throughout power failures builds the status of your company. It is therefore viewed as reliable and maintains the flow of revenue.
  • Saves money- many mainstream companies are investing in backup power systems to prevent losing client contact due to electrical disruptions. The sooner employees return to work; the less likely the company is to hit rock bottom in the event of power failure.
  • Ability to hedge- the ability to switch to a backup supply opens up your business to the possibility of alternative energy sources that can, in turn, save you a lot of money.

Power needs of high-performance buildings

Undeniably, power needs for high-performance buildings are no different from other standard structures. Emergency power should be provided to keep vital safety elements such as fire alarms in function if the primary power source is interrupted. In medical settings, lives might be lost when the power fails (Woodstock Power Company, n.d.). This level of power need makes the following backup power systems necessary for high-performance buildings:

Backup generator systems- Generators are a must for high-performance facilities. With power blackouts affecting more people to due old infrastructure among other factors, generators are a necessity at any given time to keep necessary operational functions.

Inspections and maintenance- To ensure backup systems run effectively, regular inspection and maintenance are required. These procedures include checking and testing backup supplies like batteries which are crucial parts of an emergency power system. Additionally, all building owners should familiarize themselves with formal emergency regulations in regards to how often specific backup systems need testing.

Parallel systems- running generators in parallel protects against loss of power and offers an efficient way for establishments to have greater control over the amount of energy produced. By creating backup power supplies with redundancy, proficiency, and expandability in mind, high-performance structures can maintain the basic power levels for success all the time.

How generators are used as a backup power source

Generators are standby machines that provide electricity when power from the primary source if interrupted or unavailable. They are typically used as alternative power sources in businesses, medical institutions, and homes. Moreover, they can be used as primary sources of power in areas where electrical grids are not available. Generators come in different forms including natural gas, propane, and bi-fuel generators (Power, n.d.). But how do generators work?

How generators work

Generators do not create electrical power. Instead, they convert mechanical energy into electrical energy by capturing motion power and turning it into electricity by channeling electrons through an electric circuit. Essentially, a generator is an electric motor working in reverse mode. Some generators such as those found at the Hoover Dam are massive in size and produce enormous amounts of energy by converting the power from water turbines into electricity. The electrical current is then channeled through copper wires into external power devices. Modern-day generators can be attributed to the electrical induction principle by Michael Faraday (Power, n.d.). Faraday established that when a conductor travels through a magnetic field, electrical charges are generated and directed to flow as current.

Environmental considerations

Naturally, standby generators are not positioned in ideal surroundings. Engineers are required to formulate practical, actionable techniques to deal with the environment in which these machines are installed. The matters that need attention include: General environment-critical equipment should never be placed in flood-prone areas, mainly in basements. Ventilation-generators require air for cooling the unit mounted the radiator. Other factors that should be given consideration include exhaust system, fuel, and electrical clearances.

UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) System

Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) provides emergency power backup when power drops to undesirable voltage levels. A UPS provides instant or near-instant protection from power interruptions using attached batteries. The on-battery runtime for most UPS sources is relatively short, that is about five to fifteen minutes for smaller units. However, there is adequate time to bring an auxiliary power source on board or to properly shut down the protected gear.

While it is not restricted to protecting any specific types of equipment, a UPS is characteristically used to safeguard computer processors, data centers, communication equipment or other electrical appliances where an unforeseen power failure could cause harm, fatalities, severe economic disruption and loss of data (Critical Power, n.d.).Uninterrupted Power Supply units range in sizes from components designed to safeguard a single processor without a video monitor (approximately 200 VA rating) to large units powering entire data centers (>1MVA), structures (>300kVA), or manufacturing plants.

  • Diagram of the systems working together
  • Engineering standby power system (Miller, 2011)
  • Emergency and standby power in hospitals (Davoudi, 2015)


The redundancy of the many generators provides more reliable than a single generator unit for critical loads. If one generator fails, the backup loads are reallocated among the other backup systems on a priority basis. The vital loads that require the utmost degree of reliability frequently account for only a small portion of the overall power produced by the power system. In a parallel system, the most critical components will have the vital severance to maintain power even if one of the units fails. If for instance an N+1 configuration is implemented, one backup supply can be offline for maintenance while still serving its intended purpose. Moreover, providing an extra N+1 generator will increase the reliability of the backup power system from ninety-eight to ninety-nine percent reliability.

One of the main purposes of redundancy is to remove single points of disaster. Caution must be applied to warrant that these single points are not transferred to other parts of the system. The panels were causing redundancy also must be examined to avoid power blackout that may in turn compromise functionality. For instance, parallel generator units rely on a single master control for signals. Also, the primary control and the communication link between the main and the generator sets each represents single failure points. A well-designed paralleling system will have double hot backup controls, redundant communication channels, redundant battery power systems, selectively organized breakers and numerous power trails, and a well laid out procedure for system retrieval whenever any module fails.

With a parallel generator system, if one of the generators fails, the individual unit can be removed without affecting the other backup systems that are connected to the bus. As such, this provides extra protection thus ensuring an uninterrupted supply of power for the structure's vital circuits. To avoid sharing of loads among the backups, it is always advisable to match the new paralleled-systems with the same manufacturing company, ratings, and brand. It is also essential to do the same when altering an existing system. Moreover, the standardization of the generator brand also boosts the maintenance and operations of the backup power system.


Overall, buildings should have an emergency and standby power supplies installed to allow specific electrical components to operate generally in the event of a power failure. As such, building owners should install generators on their properties, more so if they are in rural areas where power restoration after bad weather could take extended periods.


Critical power. (n.d.). How UPS Systems Work. Retrieved from https://www.criticalpowersupplies.co.uk/How-ups-systems-work

Davoudi, V. (2015, October 15). Retrieved from https://www.cat.com/en_US/articles/cat-in-the-news/electricpower-news/ep-news-emergency-and-standby-power-in-hospitals.html

Miller, D. (2011, November 30). Engineering standby power systems. Retrieved from https://www.csemag.com/articles/engineering-standby-power-systems/

NRG Editorial...

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Emergency and Standby Power Supplies for Buildings Paper Example. (2022, Dec 22). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/emergency-and-standby-power-supplies-for-buildings-paper-example

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