The Definition and Uses of Critical Power

published August 24, 2021
Image of Data Center interior

About Critical Power

Critical power is a buzz phrase that is used frequently in the electricity distribution community. However, the term itself, as well as the factors that constitute the need for critical power, remain unclear to many users. Within itself, critical power has numerous sub-concepts that will be explored in detail within this article.

What is Critical Power

Energy management systems that detect power failures, deploy backup energy sources, and deliver clean power to mission-critical equipment are known as critical power systems. For instance, institutions such as data centers and hospitals need critical power systems that can provide emergency power supply in the case of an outage.

To fully explain the concept of critical power, it is important to distinguish between critical and non-critical load.

Critical & Non-critical Load

A critical load can directly impact an organization's capacity to continue essential operations, and it must be kept functioning in the event of a power outage.

Unprecedented power outages can cost businesses a lot of money in terms of lost revenue if the core infrastructure required to carry out basic commercial tasks is disrupted. These losses can take several forms, including:

  • Management can lose business and production capabilities
  • Business incurs revenue and operation losses due to idle staff
  • Maintenance personnel may be required to intervene
  • Product and supplies are damaged or lost
  • Equipment at the facility is damaged
  • Information on the facility is lost
  • Workers and customers may be affected in a variety of ways, ranging from inconvenience to safety concerns.

Non-critical Loads

Non-critical or non-essential loads, on the other hand, can be turned off during a power outage because they aren't crucial to the organization's operations. In many cases, residential loads are considered non-critical during a massive blackout.

It is possible to reach this conclusion because many individuals have independent arrangements for backup power.

Examples of Facilities that Require Critical Power Systems

The classification of a mission-critical facility that requires a critical power system can be highly subjective. Generally, a mission-critical facility is usually defined as one which, if destroyed, would disrupt business continuity, public health, safety, or national security.

Common examples of mission-critical facilities in the Mid-Atlantic region include:

  • Colleges/Universities
  • Communication Centers
  • Hospitals
  • Military installations
  • Federal and state government offices
  • Air traffic control centers
  • Transportation systems and subway lines

Defining Critical Power Users

Other organizations outside these categories may qualify depending on the factors outlined below;

  • What financial penalties can be incurred due to loss of power?
    This could include the potential for lost business as well as any impact on customer service.
  • What kind of service does the organization provide?
  • In the food processing industry, for example, loss of power to refrigerating units can have drastic consequences for the business
  • How much production and worker productivity could be lost in the event of a power failure?
  • Will there be any adverse impact on quality, health and safety, and environmental systems?
  • Will there be a security breach and loss of control that could threaten public peace?
  • How will a power failure affect the reputation of the organization?

Contact Davis Infrastructure

Davis Infrastructure is a traditional manufacturer’s representative firm focusing on mission-critical needs of engineers, contractors, and end-users in Virginia, DC, and Maryland. Contact us to learn more about our product and service offerings.


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