A blackout at home can be an inconvenience, but a blackout at work can be devastating. Without power, you can’t run your checkout registers, computers, or network. Electricity cuts can lead to spoilage of perishable inventory, cutoffs to customer communications, loss of data, security breaches, and more.
Here are some of the best reasons to buy a backup power supply for your business as well as some tips on what kind and how big of an emergency generator to get.
Top Reasons to Purchase a Backup Generator for Your Company
Power grid demand is growing steadily, making potential power outages a bigger threat to commercial spaces. According to Eaton’s Annual Blackout Tracker Reports, which tracked power outages in the United States from 2009 to 2018, blackout incidents increased by around 125% in the decade for which they collected data. If your regional grid is at all unstable, having your own generator can make or break your business or facility.
Even if your local grid has no problem handling its typical load, electrical storms and other natural catastrophes can strike seemingly at random, darkening your commercial space indefinitely. The summer and autumn months can be particularly prone to power outages. Electricity companies may decide to put your power on pause simply because of low humidity, too much wind, or the risk of fire to old infrastructure due to excessively hot temperatures.
Businesses and organizations that need electricity to protect human life or provide critical life support are legally mandated to have an emergency backup power supply that complies with the regulations set by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). NFPA 110 is the form containing the organization’s detailed requirements for emergency generator design, installation, testing, and maintenance.
But even if your business isn’t legally required to have a commercial backup generator, it may still be a good idea. Here are some compelling reasons why you might want to invest in a generator for your business.
Keep Operations Running
Brief blackouts can grind your company’s operations to a stop. Extended blackouts can wipe out fragile businesses.
Any interruption to your business operations can put a massive kink in your revenue stream. If you’re serious about avoiding unplanned downtime, a generator is essential to maintaining a steady workflow in emergencies. It can keep you operating normally through a minor power outage or allow you to keep your head above water in a major outage.
Stay in Touch With Customers
If customer communications are essential to your business, one of your biggest fears might be that your loyal clients will immediately start getting antsy if they can’t reach you even for a few minutes. In a blackout, you can prevent them from worrying about lost products or services by using a generator to keep your communication lines open.
In periods of infrastructure instability, buyers tend to get nervous and disappear. If your representatives are able to stay in contact with them, you can allay their fears and demonstrate your competence. This can encourage your customers to increase their trust in your services and their loyalty to your business, and they’ll be more likely to speak highly of you to friends and family members.
Prevent Data Loss
If you run a data-heavy business operation or regularly have to store and access private information from your clients, keeping the power on and your critical infrastructure connected will be of special interest to you. If you’re conducting research or recording crucial experimental data, any downtime to your system can result in unacceptable permanent loss of crucial research documentation.
In these cases, not only will you need a backup generator, but you’ll probably also want to invest in a transfer switch and an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) system that can immediately switch over to your backup power source.
Avoid Security Breaches
Blackouts can be golden opportunities for thieves or random looters. If you have a solid backup power supply, your lights will stay on, and your security systems will continue to protect you from opportunists and give you peace of mind in an emergency.
Electricity interruptions not only cause downtime, but they also often come with voltage surges that can burn out delicate electronics like your computers’ motherboards, your security alarm system, and your air conditioners. Besides the additional downtime you’ll rack up waiting for replacements, the money you’ll spend on switching out damaged sensitive equipment can set your business back significantly.
It might not be feasible for you to hook up everything in your commercial space to a generator, but you can save a lot of money by making sure your company has a backup power supply to protect your delicate electronics from power surges.
What Kinds of Businesses Can Benefit Most From an Emergency Generator?
Here are a few of the commercial operations that are most vulnerable to power supply interruptions and could benefit most from an emergency backup.
Commercial Property Owners
If you own commercial property that you rent out to businesses and other organizations, you can increase your property’s value and get a leg up on the competition by investing in a generator for your commercial building. No serious operation has time to deal with random power outages, so giving your tenants the peace of mind that comes with a guaranteed power supply will be invaluable to them. Even a smaller generator that at least minimizes disruption to their most important systems can inspire loyalty and respect in your renters.
In a blackout, hospitality providers like hotels, event centers, and resorts can suffer from booking failures, climate control complaints, and food spoilage. If you run a business providing accommodations to visitors and guests, you’ll need to keep them safe in an electrical emergency. This means having a generator on hand for your heating, lighting, elevators, communications, and security systems.
If you do business in the food service industry, besides needing electricity for your computing system and communications, you’ll need it for freezer storage and temperature stability control. Catering centers might use electronic packaging equipment, and bakeries might use electronic ovens. In a power emergency, restaurants will rely on generators to run their electric stoves, refrigerators, and cash registers or payment stations.
It’s almost impossible to run any kind of manufacturing business even for a short while without electricity. The overwhelming majority of manufacturers need some kind of electrical equipment or tools to make their goods. No power simply means no products. If you’re in the manufacturing industry, a commercial backup generator is crucial.
Hospitals, physical therapy providers, and other medical facilities need electricity to keep their patients alive and healthy. If you provide any kind of healthcare, your operation is probably full of sensitive electronic equipment, including sensors and monitors, freezers, microscopes, centrifuges, and therapeutic machines.
Whatever kind of medical facility you run, you’ll need a generator hooked up to a UPS system to make sure your most essential equipment never experiences downtime. You’ll probably also be subjected to strict installation and maintenance regulations to ensure your backup power system is up to the task of protecting your patients’ health.
Server farms and other data centers also need a continual, uninterrupted supply of electricity. If you offer web hosting or cloud-based data services, even an interruption of just a few minutes could inflict a heavy cost on your clients.
Does My Business Need a Standby Generator or a Portable Generator?
Before you invest in a generator, it’s wise to think about how frequently your commercial space experiences power losses as well as how many and what kind of appliances you need to run. Doing that will help you decide what kind of generator will best suit your company’s needs.
Standby generators are permanent fixtures that provide substantial power protection. These are ideal for larger commercial operations that may experience long power outages. A standby generator can churn out power for days on end as long as you have enough fuel, but they generally must be anchored to their location and mounted in place on a thick slab of concrete.
Permanent standby generators usually run on natural gas or liquid propane. Most can be attached directly to your existing gas line.
If you buy a standby generator, you’ll usually have it installed together with a transfer switch that monitors your incoming voltage. When the power goes out in your building, the transfer switch will register the loss of voltage, disconnect from the main utility line, and connect instead to your generator. This will get your power back up and running quickly. It takes a backup generator with a transfer switch an average of 30 seconds to kick in after a power loss.
Standby generators generally have an impressively high voltage output, but all that power comes with a high price tag. If your area is prone to frequent, lengthy blackouts, investing in a standby generator might be perfect for you.
If you decide to use a standby generator, you’ll need a professional electrician with plenty of experience to install it for you. Running your main and secondary utility lines through a transfer switch is not to be taken lightly, and unless you know what you’re doing, you shouldn’t try to install it yourself. Once your professional installation is complete, the generator will kick in automatically, and you won’t need to do any extra work when the lights go out.
- Remote Monitoring Anywhere: With the Mobile Link Wi-Fi connectivity, effortlessly keep tabs on generator performance from anywhere. Stay updated on current operating status and receive maintenance alerts, ensuring peace of mind even when you're away
- Whole House Protection: Enjoy comprehensive coverage with Generac's 200-amp SER transfer switch, designed for outdoor use with an aluminum enclosure. This ensures that your household remains powered and protected during power outages
- Long-Term Assurance: Count on lasting performance and reliability with our 5-Year Limited Warranty. This assurance provides you with the confidence that your investment in an automatic standby generator is one that will serve you well for years to come
- High-Quality, Consistent 24kW Power: With our advanced True Power Technology, experience power that beats expectations. Less than 5 percent total harmonic distortion guarantees clean and stable 24,000 watt power delivery, enabling safe operation
- Crafted for Excellence: Proudly engineered and assembled in the USA, our generators stand as testament to quality and craftsmanship. The purpose-built G-Force Engine is designed to handle the demands of usage, ensuring reliability and reduced maintenance
If you run a smaller business or one that requires mobility, a portable generator will probably be a better choice. Portable generators are smaller than permanent standby generators and usually come with wheels for easy transportation.
Portable models are cheaper than standby models, but they won’t be able to power your entire operation, just a few of your most important appliances. They generally run for around eight hours on a single tank. They’re easy to use and refuel, and you won’t need to bother with a transfer switch, just some high-quality extension cords.
- 【CO Alarm and Parallel Function】 The NEXPOW portable inverter generator adopts a sensor CO alarm, If used in a confined environment, it reduces the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning for consumers. The generator also features AC parallel operation, allowing you to easily connect two generator units with the same voltage and frequency in parallel to increase power output.
- 【Eco Mode and EPA Certification】 The NEXPOW portable inverter generator has obtained EPA certification, ensuring safe and reliable use. It also includes an Eco mode feature that extends the runtime. By using the eco switch, the fuel tank can run for more than 10 hours at 25% load.
- 【Upgraded Configuration】NEXPOW inverter generator is used high-quality copper wire as the core material, which has excellent conductivity and high thermal conductivity,This 2250W portable inverter generator is equipped with 79.7cc 4-stroke OHV single-cylinder engine, a forced air cooling system, and overhead valves. It is also equipped with a muffler, fuel filter, air filter, and more. We have added more configurations than traditional generators, allowing you to use it with greater safety.
- 【Multipurpose Portable Inverter Generator】It produces 2250W of surge power and 1800W of rated power with an overload protection function. It is easy to run a small house lighting system or other appliances such as a refrigerator. You can rest assured to use it for outdoor living, RV travel, vacation, food trucks, and any situation that requires power.
- 【Super Quiet Mode】NEXPOW generator is equipped with an advanced muffler and adopts a fully enclosed design mode, which greatly reduces the noise when the product is running. Compared with other traditional generators, NEXPOW Generator is an ultra-quiet mode, at a distance of 23 feet, the decibel level of the product running in ECO mode is 58 decibels, which is almost equal to the sound of normal talking or a dishwasher running, there is virtually no disturbance to the user or anyone nearby.
How Big of a Generator Do I Need?
Here are a few methods you can use to calculate how much generator capacity your business needs.
Measure Your Full Load Capacity
To estimate how much power your commercial space consumes at peak usage, make a list of all the appliances and machines you need your generator to run simultaneously, and add up the amps they use. You might find it easier to attach a clamp-on ammeter to the various legs of your electrical system at a busy time and then add all the measurements up to see the total amps your facility uses.
Generators measure their output in kilowatts. Here’s how to convert your amp measurements to kilowatts:
- Multiply your total amps by your supply voltage, which is 120V in the United States.
- Divide that answer by 1,000 to find the total kilowatts you need.
- To add some reserve capacity, just in case, multiply your total kilowatts by 1.25.
Your total safe capacity for a single-phase generator will be the result of the calculation above.
Keep in mind that smaller generators usually use a single-phase current, and larger generators tend to use a three-phase current. To convert your amp usage to a three-phase generator’s output, you need to know a few more things about your generator, including the power factor and the kind of voltage.
Here’s a good calculator you can use to convert your amps to a three-phase power output.
Besides estimating or calculating your safe full load capacity, you’ll need to add a bit extra to accommodate your starting load. Machines that use motors or compressors often use a jolt of electricity when they start up, and that can be around six times their normal running load.
When running on a generator, you can stagger your starting load by turning on your heaviest machines one at a time. That means you only need to know the starting load for your machine with the most starting watts. Make sure to keep that number in mind when calculating your essential generator capacity.
Use Historical Data
If you’d prefer not to attempt complicated calculations, you can take a look at your previous electricity bills and find how many kilowatts your business used at peak hours throughout the previous year. Make sure to add around 25% for a safe reserve capacity.