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Understanding The Difference In ATS And Switchgear

Understanding The Difference In ATS And Switchgear


When it comes to your industrial generator, understanding the difference between the Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS) and Switchgear is essential to maintaining continual, uninterrupted power. Continuous, prime, and emergency power supplied by diesel generators are common in most industrial settings where power must be generated and distributed throughout a facility. 

While some industries only require generator power in emergency lighting and other critical systems, the facilities that support critical and life-saving systems utilize a more advanced power distribution system.

Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS)

The ATS commands generator startup when utility power is lost, switching the generator to emergency power when it is ready. In single generator configurations, circuit breakers remain closed until an overload or circuit condition trips them. Once utility power is fully restored, the ATS switches to utility power, effectively shutting down the generator. 

In multiple generator configurations, buildings in a facility may be located over a large area preventing parallel operations during power loss. Multiple generators are required in such a setting to ensure facility systems remain powered in the event of a utility power disruption. When utility power is lost to the site, each building’s ATS performs its duties for emergency power to be brought online. 


Electrical switchgear can be used in both residential and industrial settings. Residential emergency generators use the circuit breaker panel as the switchgear where the ATS supplies power to the circuit breaker panel when home power is disrupted. 

The next level up of switchgear application is used for industries that do not have mission-critical power requirements. In this instance, power is supplied to individually designated circuit breakers. Examples of what this would power are emergency lighting, hazardous ventilation, and communications. 

An advanced switchgear system would be used in critical facilities such as hospitals, data centers, aerospace, and other industries requiring continuous power when utility power is interrupted. These types of switchgear systems are usually custom-designed for the facility to meet its specific needs. 

Keeping Systems Running Smoothly

Industries depend on continual, uninterrupted power to conduct services and processes essential to their mission. When it comes to the automatic transfer switch and switchgear applications used in generator systems configurations, continuous power supply depends on each part’s careful inspection and maintenance. 

Repairing and replacing components of the ATS and switchgear when needed will ensure that the emergency and backup power supply works as designed in the event of a power disruption.

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