Critical power: Emergency power

Thursday, May 4, 2017, at 11 a.m. PT /1 p.m. CT/2 p.m. ET
1 AIA CES approved LU available for attendees

Electrical engineers must consider many factors when designing emergency power systems. Safety, maintainability, code compliance, and economics play crucial roles in determining the topology of an emergency system for a critical facility. Specific requirements for emergency power vary based on building occupancy type, facility use, and critical function.

When designing generator systems, engineers must ensure that the generators and the building electrical systems that they support are appropriate for the specific application. They must make decisions regarding generator sizing, load types, whether generators should be paralleled, fuel storage, switching scenarios, and many other criteria. 

Emergency power systems provide power to ensure that life safety systems and critical equipment can operate during a power outage. NFPA 70: National Electrical Code (NEC) Article 700: Emergency Systems defines the category that applies to emergency generator power sources.

Learning objectives:

  • Explain the applicable codes and standards: NFPA 70: National Electrical Code (NEC), with primary emphasis on Article 700: Emergency Systems; NFPA 110: Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems; and other codes and standards as they apply to backup power systems.
  • Analyze and compare the differences and similarities among emergency, legally required standby, optional standby, and critical operations power systems (COPS) with a focus on emergency systems.
  • Explain the criteria for designating a power system as “emergency.”
  • Analyze the requirements for a generating system that would satisfy the load, electrical, and code criteria for a typical emergency power system.
  • Tom Divine, PE, Project Manager, Smith Seckman Reid Inc., Houston
  • Freddy Padilla, PE, ATD, Principal/Senior Electrical Engineer, Page, Austin
Moderator: Jack Smith, Consulting-Specifying Engineer, Pure Power, and CFE Media, LLC


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