Backup Generator Strategies for Multi-Location Businesses

  • By Josh Morphew
  • 10 Mar, 2017

Consider the following scenario: A vicious ice storm is looming. Jim’s boss Cindy says she can’t afford downtime from an extended power outage and tasks Jim with finding a solution. Armed with the Internet, Jim searches for a rental generator . The closest generator he finds is 4 hours away and even if he could pick it up, he can’t find an electrician to help hook it up.

 While Jim had managed the facility for years, backup power was never a priority for the previous owners. The plant was already operating at maximum capacity, so they couldn’t make up for lost time with additional shifts. Regardless of what happens with this storm, Jim knows he needs a better plan to deal with any type of future power outage.

 Jim’s situation is very common. Many businesses think of backup power as an all-or-nothing scenario. Permanently installed generators are cost prohibitive so they settle for nothing instead.   Today, facility managers and building owners have more choices, providing them with the reassurance of having backup power at a fraction of the cost.

Some businesses need a permanent generator, some don't. 

Some facilities, such as hospitals and data centers, have a need for continuous, uninterrupted power. If utility power is lost, seamless transition to backup power is needed. While it’s possible to use a single large generator to meet their needs, there is still a risk of losing power if the generator fails. A common solution is to provide the facility with two or more smaller generators to either alternate or run in parallel and have a backup.

 Multi-location businesses like banks or senior living facilities may be able to absorb a sporadic power outage but need some type of solution for extended outages. These could include localized fires, construction, accidents or similar incidents. Bar a weather catastrophe, the risk of a simultaneous outage across a large geographic area is low.

Alternatives to Permanent Generators

Temporary generators can be brought in and connected to the existing infrastructure. This solution often requires a licensed electrician to connect and disconnect the wiring. This is certainly more budget friendly than a permanent installation. Yet it still carries the risk of finding the right size generator and electrician in a time of need. Situations like ice storms or major windstorms leave the business at the mercy of supply and demand.

How to minimize key risk factors

A variation on the above solution is to remove one or both remaining risk factors. Instead of renting a generator, a multi-location business could invest in one or more trailer-mounted generators. Factors to consider in deciding the number of generators to acquire:

·      Number of locations

·      Proximity of locations to each other

·      Facility size variation

·      Power demands

 

An operation with ten similarly sized facilities spread out over 100-mile radius will require one strategy. An operation with ten facilities ranging in size from 20,000 to 100,000 square feet located within a 10-mile radius will need a different strategy.

 

With the generators acquired, the remaining risk is the availability of electricians to connect and disconnect the generators when needed. Factors that can increase this risk include:

·      Highly variable construction activity in area

·      Industry migration

·      Regional weather events – coastal hurricane damage may create a temporary shortage in skilled trades

 

One way to mitigate the risk for skilled trades is to install a standardized generator connection system in each building. Imagine what would be needed to water your garden if hose connectors weren’t standardized. Hooking up a generator to a standardized connection panel is as simple as connecting a garden hose.    

Reduce capital outlay by 80% to 90%.

The same capital investment that may have been allocated for one permanent generator can be spread to cover multiple facilities instead. Moreover, recurring expenses for temporary electrician connection and disconnection are eliminated. Additionally, operating losses resulting from downtime become more manageable.

In conclusion, there are a variety of commercial electrical solutions that you can consider but if you need an expert opinion, contact the pros.

If you know that you need a backup power solution, however, are worried it isn’t affordable - worry no more. Baxter Commercial Services will help design and install a backup power solution that works for you. Contact us today.

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By Josh Morphew 10 Mar, 2017

Consider the following scenario: A vicious ice storm is looming. Jim’s boss Cindy says she can’t afford downtime from an extended power outage and tasks Jim with finding a solution. Armed with the Internet, Jim searches for a rental generator . The closest generator he finds is 4 hours away and even if he could pick it up, he can’t find an electrician to help hook it up.

 While Jim had managed the facility for years, backup power was never a priority for the previous owners. The plant was already operating at maximum capacity, so they couldn’t make up for lost time with additional shifts. Regardless of what happens with this storm, Jim knows he needs a better plan to deal with any type of future power outage.

 Jim’s situation is very common. Many businesses think of backup power as an all-or-nothing scenario. Permanently installed generators are cost prohibitive so they settle for nothing instead.   Today, facility managers and building owners have more choices, providing them with the reassurance of having backup power at a fraction of the cost.

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