Many electrical systems are needed for the operation of a powerhouse, including:
- An alternating current (AC) electrical distribution system, used to supply all the lights, power outlets, motors and other systems;
- A direct current (DC) electrical system, used to charge the station batteries and provide backup power for essential controls when there is no AC power.
- The protection and control system, which is the nervous system and brain of the power station, detecting problems and controlling all the systems in a safe manner. While many of the sub-systems have their own protection and control systems, they report to the station control system (sometimes called the SCADA system) and respond to its commands.
- Communications systems may be used for remote operation of the station, voice communications and data communications within the station and with the outside world.
- The fire detection system monitors remote sensors throughout the station and within key components such as the generators and activates the fire protection system when necessary.
- The grounding system is usually integrated with the steel reinforcement in the concrete of the powerhouse. It is connected to all electrical equipment that needs to be grounded, and to all metal such as mechanical equipment, handrails and stairs. The purpose of the groundkng system is to protect the personnel of the station from touching a handrail, pipe or piece of equipment at a different voltage than the floor (a “touch potential”) or walking over an area of large voltage gradient that can generate a “step potential” between one foot and the other. These “step and touch potentials” can be fatal.
- A lightning protection system protects the station from lightning strikes.
- A system of cable trays and conduits (the raceway system) is designed to carry all the power, control and protection cables between the various panels and pieces of equipment.