August 12, 2021

Backup Power Requirements at College Campuses


College or university campuses play a critical role in the education sector and almost all sectors. This is where most of the research occurs, which may involve important lab experiments that can't afford a power interruption. In essence, there are many other reasons why every campus should consider installing a reliable power backup system.

Campuses can be categorized as follows:

  • Junior colleges technically offer education up to associate studies and have about 25 building structures.
  • Community colleges are mid-sized. Some have dormitories, sports centers, and extracurricular structures.
  • Large university campuses generally house thousands of students and teaching & support staff and have at least a hundred buildings.

Regardless of the size or number of students, no small college is exceptional when it comes to emergency power preparedness.

Why Do Campuses Need Backup Power?

Apart from ensuring that students and employees working at higher learning are safe and comfortable, the lack of a backup power system in a school can cause loss of revenue both to students and institutions. An emergency electricity source plan by far powers crucial school systems like HVAC, fire prevention systems, computer networks & storage, and, more essentially, lighting. Backup power can help colleges and universities to:

  • Avoid learning or event disruptions/rescheduling.
  • Protect vital data and information. Unreliable power can mean data loss, theft, or data breach (as the enemy waits when it's most vulnerable). This can cost the institution and even lead to costly litigation if personal data is involved.
  • For effective research and experimentation. Colleges, governments, and donors invest heavily in the research sector, and loss of power can cause havoc to light-sensitive and/or temperature-controlled experiments.
  • Safety and security. Emergency lighting, security systems, and automatic systems (e.g., automatic doors) rely on power to work efficiently.

Another reason to equip these institutions with backup power is that they come in handy during emergencies. Institutions house rescue teams as well as serve as temporary shelters for people evacuated from affected areas.

The Solution: Generator Backup Power

Natural disasters like floods, hurricanes, storms, or maintenance work on the utility may cause outages. In the past, batteries were favored as an option, but not any longer. A battery is limited to providing electricity for a short time, and its lifespan is significantly shorter. This is why many Higher Ed institutions are phasing that out by opting to go with the reliable generator system.

Typically, a generator backup system comprises a genset, Automatic Transfer Switch(ATS), and an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). These work in coordination to ensure, say, no single critical experiment setup in the lab will ever go against expectations because of an outage. Basically, this is how things proceed once the utility experiences an outage:

  1. The UPS picks up the load, awaiting the diesel unit to start up.
  2. The ATS notices the loss of current flow and automatically switches the generator ON. It can take a few seconds to a minute before the generator is up and ready to supply power.
  3. The grid current is restored, and the ATS returns the load to the utility and subsequently signals the generator to go OFF.
  4. UPS recharges using grid power.

What Kind of Generator Does a Campus Require?

A lot of aspects come into play when considering the type of generator that's suitable for an institution. The size, the number of equipment that needs emergency power, and the load capacity are some factors. An on-site assessment by generator experts is the best way to determine the correct size to ensure all aspects are exhaustively considered.

At Power System Services, we offer all sizes of diesel and gas generators. Whether you need a new and/or used generator, we have got you covered. Also, colleges can take advantage of our competitive rental services of mobile generators to power their out-of-campus events. For more info, contact us now, and our ready & helpful team will get back to you ASAP.