Preparing for the unexpected prepared you for when disaster strikes

Key takeaways

  • Severe weather is frequent in South Florida.
  • These weather events can disrupt electrical service.
  • Investing in a generator can alleviate concerns for business owners
  • Universal Electrical installs generators for its clients.

On September 28 and 29, 2022, Hurricane Ian ripped through South Florida, causing an estimated $112.9 billion in damage. It also left 2.7 million homes and businesses without power, with 580,000 structures remaining without power for at least five days. 

Living or operating a business in South Florida carries inherent challenges because of extreme weather events. While hurricanes are a significant concern, other storms can also temporarily knock power out, leaving home and business owners scrambling for energy-providing alternatives. 

This is why companies of all sizes are looking into uninterrupted electricity through generator installation. Here’s a guide to choosing the right generator, as well as installing and maintaining it. 

Why your South Florida-based business needs a generator

South Florida has an ideal climate. However, a trade-off of living in paradise is the frequency of extreme weather events. 

Hurricane season extends from June 1 through November 30. When a heavy storm hits coastal Florida, it brings high winds, storm surges, and inland flooding. All of these hazards can cause power outages that last for days and create problems for business owners. 

Beyond hurricanes, thunderstorms are more common in South Florida than anywhere else nationwide. On average, there are 1.4 million lightning strikes in Florida per year, and coastal regions experience 80 to 90 days of thunderstorms annually.

Like hurricanes, severe thunderstorms can disrupt your power supply, leaving you scrambling for a solution. Fortunately, generators are readily available, allowing you to keep the lights on and your business open.

How to select the right generator

As you look at the generators available, you’ll find two types: portable and standby. Your budget, building size, and power-supply plans will dictate your choice.  

As the name suggests, a portable generator is a smaller device you can move onsite as needed. These generators typically run on gasoline, and you’ll fire your unit up when you lose power and connect it to your power source. These items require a manual startup, though, so they won’t turn on automatically. they’re the least expensive option, but are less powerful than standby generators and might not provide adequate electricity for your commercial property. 

Standby generators come in various sizes to address diverse needs. You can invest in a unit large enough to power an entire commercial building, which could be vital if you have coolers, refrigerators, or data centers that must run continually during an outage. These generators kick on automatically when there’s an outage and are already connected to your system, so you don’t have to be onsite to start them. 

Generally, a standby generator is better for a business, whereas a portable unit might be acceptable for a household. Your decision depends on how you plan to use your generator.

The generator installation process

When you install a generator, there’s an entire process you’ll need to follow. Getting a professional on the job is essential because there’s a code you’ll need to follow. Chapter 27 of the 2020 Florida Building Code outlines these rules and includes information on fuel line protection, load transfer, exhaust systems, and critical circuits. In short, it’s a large job that requires an expert’s attention. 

Your generator installation typically begins with a site survey. This step involves finding the ideal spot for the unit and completing electrical load testing to ensure your system can handle it. From there, we’ll figure out how to connect the generator to a fuel source and obtains the necessary permits. 

We’ll schedule your appointment once we’re ready to install the unit and coordinate this installation with local utility providers and book gas and electrical inspections after completion. 

When everything is operational, we’ll test the unit and show you how it works. This process takes some time but provides peace of mind once we have it ready to go.

Maintenance and safety tips

You want to ensure your generator is ready to use when needed, so conducting regular maintenance is highly recommended. You can handle some of these jobs yourself, but professional completion will be necessary for others. 

Start by running the generator periodically to ensure it’s working. You can now check that the automatic startup feature is on and inspect it for leaks, warning lights, or anything else that looks amiss. If you have a portable generator, refuel it at this time if you’ve used it. 

Tasks that require professional attention include changing air filters, inspecting the pipes, checking the exhaust system, and performing a load bank test. The contractor that installed your unit can assist with this maintenance, giving you one less thing to worry about. 

Safely using your generator is also a priority. Remember, you should only use your generator outdoors because it can release carbon monoxide into the building. You’ll have to keep the unit dry, though, which can pose challenges. Your installation contractor can offer tips on safely using your unit to help you avoid potential issues.

Be prepared for the next emergency

Emergency preparedness is vital in South Florida because major storms strike at any time. You don’t want to be left in the dark if the power goes out, so it might be time to install an uninterruptible power supply for your business. 

Universal Electrical Services is a commercial and residential electrical contractor proudly serving South Florida. We can install a generator for your business, giving you one less thing to worry about during a storm. Contact Universal Electrical to book us for your next electrical project or receive a free quote.