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1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 350 (337)

1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition
1948-49 Theatre Catalog
1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 350
Page 350

1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 350

Sources of Emergency and Stand-by Electricity

Strikes, Storms, and Shortages Point Up the Wisdom of Adequate Independent Lighting and Power Supply

A power failure during a show means loss of revenue through refunds, while labor costs and film rental continue. In addition, there is the danger of panic and accident claims in a suddenly darkened theatre. This article describes typical equipment now available which will provide either emergency lighting or continued theatre operation, or both,

when the regular supply of current fails.

On the evening of August 20, 1947, three hundred and seventy-eight people were enjoying a movie at the Roxy Theatre, Slippery Rock, Pa. Outside, the brightly illuminated marquee and the brilliant lights of the little town indicated that Reddy Kilowatt was on the job, as usual, and that everything was normal.

Then, without warning, the whole town went dark! Somewhere, lightning had struck a transformer and the resulting line failure interrupted electric service to Slippery Rock. Picture the Roxyls owner, faced with a total financial loss for the evening, or even more frightening, the audience in panic, fighting blindly towards exits!

But happily, neither of these events ever happened-at least, not at the Roxy. While the citizens of the town groped around for candles, kerosene lamps, or the other unsatisfactory makes shifts, everything at the Roxy remained normal. There was only a negligible fivesecond break in the picture; then, as if nothing had happened, the show went on! For one hour and forty-five minutes the Roxy continued to operate on its 10,000 watt standby emergency electric plant, which Edgar Shaffer, owner, had installed some months before. Slippery Rock, meanwhile, remained without electric power until highline service had been restored.

Briefly, this is what happened at the Roxy: when the regular power source failed, line transfer controls automatically disconnected all theatre circuits from the dead mainline, and instantaneously connected them to the standby source. At the same time, a 10,000-watt Onan-made standby plant electrically cranked itself with current supplied by its starting batteries; and within seconds, the unit had taken over the entire electrical load of the theatre. "As a matter of factfl Shaffer commented, "the popcorn machine in the lobby continued to operate as usual, as did everything else!"


The Show Goes On

Edgar Shafferls foresight in installing standby power for emergencies in his theatre has paid handsome dividends in prestige and profit. Good public relations, for example. His patrons like the way he runs things; and keeping the show going even though the regular power is off has added considerably to his reputation as an efficient and considerate operator. But more importante his ability to keep running with emergency power instead of having to shut down during line failures or voltage drops has eliminated the annoying (and costly) problem of refunds to patrons, never a satisfactory solution, to either the operator or the customer.

The experience of the Roxy Theatre as well as that of other theatres throughout the country indicates that adequate protection against power failures is fast becoming recognized as an indispensable part of theatre operation. In most localities, theatres are required

to provide some type of standby service. The State of Pennsylvania has had a state law since 1925 requiring theatres and other public buildings to have an automatic standby power supply. In Portland, Oregon, there are two power companies and most theatres are provided with a manual throwover switch

to the other companyls service for exit lighting. However, several theatres uSe storage batteries floating on the line and for one of the Portland theatres, emergency lighting service is supplied by a gasoline engineedriven generator set. Although this is now more or less standard practice for supplying emergency exit lighting for theatres, in November, 1946, it was the only installation of its kind in the city.

The set consists of a 4-cylinder gasoline engine driving a 6-kw., d.c., 115-volt Westinghouse generator. Control is so arranged that loss of central station power supply actuates relays and contactors that start the emergency set automatically and pick up the load within a few seconds. Five 6-volt automatic type storage batteries in series are used for starting the engine. Weekly starting of the machine insures reliability, keeps the starting mechanism in optimum condition.

Imporl'ance of Standby Power

The subject of emergency standby power has assumed an ever-increasing importance as more and more contributing factors have entered the scene of electrical supply. In an address at the convention of the Edison Electric Institute, Atlantic City, on June 2, 1948,

IN SLIPPERY ROCK. PENNSYLVANIA. the town went dark. but lights blazed and the show goes on at

the Roxy. Continuous performance is possible.

(Photo tummy of D. W'. 0mm and Sam, Inc.)
1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 350