For the professionals in infratructure maintenance, back up generators and UPSs are the lifelines in cases of power outage. In Indian conditions, currently with large deficit in power supply in many states, planned and unplanned power outage from utility power providers are common occurrences.
The probability of unplanned power outages become less as the supply voltage increases. Three phase LT power supply required by smaller facilities are the most prone to outages. As the voltages goes up to 11 KV, 22 KV and 33 KV the outages reduce. At 110 / 132 / 220 KV (for very large installations) unplanned outages are very rare – most probably happens only in case of total grid failures.
Power outage due to internal failure is a different matter. This may be due to aging equipment, lack of maintenance, human error during maintenance, human error in panic situations, failure of equipment / system sub assemblies, over heating of equipment or panels, high ambient temperature, water leaks leading to shorting, overloading, lightning strikes, etc. The way to reduce the above mentioned conditions are:
- Periodic preventive and predictive maintenance of the power distribution system including testing and calibration of relays and devices. Thermal imaging of power panels and cables can pin point faults and also give early warning about impending failures.
- Training of technicians on regular maintenance and safety.
- Training of all personnel on emergency responses and periodic mock drills to simulate various emergencies.
- Regular maintenance of the building envelopes to check all leaks and preparedness for foul weather to avoid leaks and flooding.
- Updating the system drawings with detailed account of connected loads will help in reducing overloaded condition at different levels of the distribution tree.
The linked article covers the basics of back up generators and UPSs and the Part 2 of the article covers maintenance of the electrical system.
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