Is It Time to Invest in a Generator for Your Business?
by Ken Philipson, Senior Electrical Designer
In October 2012, Superstorm Sandy slammed into the East Coast, leaving behind massive power outages and creating a wakeup call for many eastern retailers. This was like the shot heard around the world, and the generator revolution began. Some major commercial areas were without power for nine days — and suburban areas for longer. A similar situation occurred recently in Texas, with statewide power outages. And the west coast is no stranger to the impact earthquakes, mudslides and wildfires can have on power generation.
Due to the lasting effects of Superstorm Sandy and other natural disasters, a new generator has been part of almost every project CoolSys Energy Design has taken on in the past 10 years.
Many businesses already have life safety generators, but these are limited mainly to facilitating evacuation and an orderly shutdown. They provide reduced lighting levels and don’t support heating, air-conditioning or refrigeration. Many larger businesses are looking for sustained power to fully operate for longer periods of time when the utilities are down.
The Big Question
If you’re on the fence about investing in a generator, ask yourself this: Can my business survive for two weeks without power? There are a number of important considerations in answering this question:
- Maintaining employee payroll. Inability to pay your staff could cause many of them to leave during an already tumultuous, post-Covid year for retention.
- Continuing to pay rent, insurance and other expenses on a business that is not operating.
- Keeping food and other refrigerated product safe and marketable. If you have to discard thousands of dollars’ worth of product, will your insurance cover all of it?
- Keeping your security and fire alarm systems running.
- Becoming disconnected from data and communication sources.
- Losing revenue for your business, as well as personal income.
- Risking the loss of loyal customers, who may go elsewhere and not come back.
Choosing the Right Generator for Your Business
Generators come in many different sizes and configurations, and the costs vary accordingly. There are indoor and outdoor units; multiple fuel sources; and various types of generators, including life safety, mobile, standby, and prime power units.
Answer these questions to help you choose which type of generator and features are right for you:
- What is my budget for purchasing and maintaining a generator?
- Do I have multiple sites that can share a mobile generator?
- Where can I purchase generators in my area?
- Do I need backup power for everything or just the things that keep my business open and operating?
- What are my business’s life safety needs?
- What are the nonessential loads on my electrical supply?
- Should it transfer to generator power automatically or manually?
- What fuel sources are available at my site?
- Do I want options such as key switches or mobile connections?
- Instead of purchasing, do I want to eliminate startup and maintenance costs by contracting with a generator company that can deliver a unit to me when I need it?
If you can’t answer the questions above, we are here to help. With so many variables among generators, you’ll save time and money in the long run by seeking professional assistance. The team at CoolSys Energy Design has the experience and expertise to evaluate your building, offer design options and help you choose the right generator that fits your budget and provides the coverage you’ll need the next time the lights go out.
About the Author
Ken Philipson, Senior Electrical Designer at CED, has been working for Allan and Clive Samuels for 35 years. Despite graduating from TCNJ with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, he found his passion for electrical design and specializes in power distribution and backup systems. When Ken’s not in the office, he enjoys spending time with his family and grandkids, cooking meals from around the globe, and hopes to one day finish his detective novel.