What happens to your business in the event of a power outage? Does it remain productive, or would business grind to a halt? Adding a power generator to your commercial location can keep you in business in the event of short or long term power losses due to weather, accidents, and more, helping you retain customers and prevent gaps in productivity.
What Is a Power Generator?
A power generator provides a backup source of electricity when the power goes out. It does this by converting supply fuel (gasoline, diesel, or natural gas) to mechanical energy and converting that into electrical power. Having a standby generator will ensure that your business or organization never has to experience downtime due to a power outage.
If your area’s electrical supply fails, the generator will provide a seamless transition to backup power. The transition is often so smooth, you might not even notice that your power service is out.
Power generators are useful to businesses in many ways:
- Generators ensure continued productivity in the event of a power outage, keeping necessary equipment in operation.
- Generators ensure the safety and comfort of your employees during the event of a snowstorm, ice storm, or heat wave.
- Generators help protect computer data and allow security systems to continue to function.
- Generators provide an uninterrupted supply of power during brownouts and outages, keeping all devices running like normal.
Generators are useful for all different types of businesses. They tend to be most necessary for businesses in areas that frequently lose power, or for those which contain sensitive materials that need to be protected at all times.
- For example, a bank or a server farm would absolutely need a backup If either of these businesses were to lose power, it could result in massive losses of money, data, or general security. Additionally, if your business is located in a place that often loses power due to inclement weather, like the Gulf Coast or part of the Midwest, a generator can help keep your employees safe during these events.
Types of Commercial Power Generators
There are two types of generators that can help your business get through a power failure: portable and standby generators.
Portable commercial generators may be wired into a subpanel by an electrician or simply connected to appliances using extension cords. Portable generators only power essential items such as lights, refrigerators, and some computers. They are a simple and inexpensive backup power option but must be started manually. They offer a limited supply of electricity, providing enough power for two to four outlets, or a few specific circuits when wired into an electrical panel. Because they need to be started manually, a portable unit may not be the best option for businesses that would be severely disrupted by a system reset.
These generators must be located at least 10 feet away from your business, away from doors and windows, and in a completely open area (not even carports or awnings are safe) to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
Standby generators are permanently installed outside the building and start automatically during power outages, preventing interruptions in electrical service. They are powered by natural gas or propane, are quieter than portable models, and can run everything in your business location. They come at a higher price than portable power generators and require a transfer switch, subpanel, and hardwiring, all of which must be installed by a qualified electrician.
Potential Generator Problems
Just like any other engine, generators require periodic service and maintenance. Below are the most common reasons you may need to call an electrician to service your commercial generator:
- Battery Failure
This is the single most common reason for power generator service. Battery failure may be the result of sulfate buildup on the battery terminals, shorts, open cells, a tripped charger breaker, charger failure, or loose or dirty connections. Battery failure can happen as a result of neglect, general usage, or even the passage of time. Make sure to regularly inspect your battery for any issues.
- Low Coolant
External and internal coolant leaks, clogged radiators, and more can cause a power generator to run hot and shut down.
- Faulty Block Heater
Because they run so frequently, block heaters often become faulty, resulting in a low coolant temp alarm.
- Wet Stacking
Excessive no load run time can result in an over fueled engine that becomes damaged due to the accumulation of carbon particles, unburned fuel, oil, condensed water, and acids in the exhaust.
- Controls Not in “Auto”
This simply means the power generator was not shut off, and may not be serving as the main control switch. This can be due to human error, open breakers, improperly reset alarms or switchgear, emergency shutdown, and more.
- Air in the Fuel System
When a generator does not run on a regular basis, air can enter the fuel lines and prevent injectors from firing. This issue can be prevented with weekly inspections.
- Out of Fuel
Generators will automatically shut down when fuel gets too low in order to prevent the fuel system from drawing in air.
- Breaker Trip
If no one has accidentally pushed the emergency shut off, check the status of the automatic transfer switch (ATS). Never try to manually operate this switch if you do not know how to do so, as it could result in severe injury or death.
Warning! Never plug your generator into a wall outlet. This is known as backfeeding. If you do this without turning off the main breaker to isolate your business from the grid, you could send power back into the grid, potentially injuring or killing utility repairmen.
Mr. Electric® can inspect your existing commercial generator. A thorough, professional inspection keeps you safe and ensures all local codes and regulations are met. Contact your local Mr. Electric to schedule a service appointment for your commercial generator.
Professional Generator Installation
Do you know how to properly calculate wattage so that your system isn’t overloaded at startup? This varies depending on the equipment you need to power and your specific model’s requirements. Our professionals have the skills necessary to calculate your commercial or home generator’s power needs for a smooth operation.
A professional electrician can safely set up wiring, plugging your generator into the transfer switch and wiring it directly to your business’s service panel. This disconnects you properly from the grid and ensures the safe delivery of power only to designated circuits, preventing safety issues like generator overload, backfeeding, fire, and more. Proper positioning and installation of your portable generator are also essential in preventing carbon monoxide poisoning.
Choose Mr. Electric for Commercial Generator Installation
To keep productivity and electricity flowing with a power generator, contact Mr. Electric today. Our professionals can install the perfect commercial generator to meet all your emergency power needs, getting you back to business as usual. Schedule your appointment online or call us directly.