NFPA 110 Standards and Generator Compliance

In events of power outages caused by natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, man-made disasters such as downed power lines or utility poles caused by vehicular accidents, even your friendly neighborhood squirrel, backup generators are often installed within buildings and facilities to provide backup power to ensure key systems and operations can continue even when power to the main utility grid is disconnected.

When considering a backup generator for your business or facility, there are many factors that need to be reviewed before moving onto the next step in the process.

While we usually cover considerations when purchasing a backup generator such as fuel type, kW rating (power output), and applications, another important factor that should be considered is a standard known as NFPA 110. NFPA 110 is a standard created by the National Fire Protection Association that covers performance requirements pertaining to emergency and standby power systems that provide an alternate source of electrical power in buildings and facilities in events where the normal electrical power source fails.

While this may seem like a good amount of information to take in, when breaking down the standard regarding backup generators for buildings and facilities – NFPA 110 can be considered a guideline of requirements that backup generators must meet when power to the main electrical grid fails or is disconnected, and generator power is required.

When working on NFPA 110 compliance, generators are classified as an Emergency Power Supply or EPS for short, which is part of a larger system known as an Emergency Power Supply System or EPSS.

The NFPA 110 standard includes all systems including power sources, transfer equipment, controls, supervisory equipment, and accessories needed to supply electrical power to selected circuits.

When assessing NFPA 110 compliance and Emergency Power Supply Systems, it is important to understand that there are 2 levels of EPSS classifications. These classifications are defined by level, class, and type.

Level 2 Emergency Power Supply System (EPSS) requirements pertain to less critical situations where lives are not at risk. Level 1 Emergency Power Supply System (EPSS) requirements include everything in Level 2 EPSS, but also include situations where power failure will result in loss of human life or serious injuries.

Level 1 Emergency Power Supply System (EPSS) requirements pertain to critical situations where lives are at risk or there is risk of serious injuries. For this reason, Level 1 EPSS must meet stricter guidelines in comparison to Level 2 EPSS.

With that in mind, it must be stated that NFPA 110 does not specifically detail which applications pertain to Level 1 or Level 2 EPSS requirements.

NFPA 110 also has class requirements for generators based on the type of equipment that needs to be powered. Usually this is measured by the amount of time a generator needs to run or how long it can run without needing to be refueled. For example, an NFPA 110 Class 2 may require the generator to run for 2 hours, while Class 6 may require 6 hours. Location, business type, and scale of any business operations can also affect the generator class required for NFPA 110.

Lastly, generators for NFPA 110 are also classified by type. Type is classified by how long it takes for the generator to start and begin delivering emergency power for either Level 1 or Level 2 applications. While some systems are designed to provide power within a couple of seconds, there are other systems that may have a delay greater than 2 seconds or have no automatic start function at all. Generator selection will largely be based around the NFPA 110 EPSS level required.

While this covers the general basics of NFPA 110 and how generators must be in compliance with this standard, there are many moving parts and pieces involved. More information can be found on the NFPA website.

If you have questions, would like to learn more about generators and NFPA 110 compliance, or would like some consultation on an EPSS installation regarding NFPA 110, feel free to reach out to us at Woodstock Power Company!

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