Healthier employees. Continuous operations. Safer revenue. Learn why generator installation is such a bright idea.
- Investing in a generator is essential for most office buildings
- Power outages can cripple a business
- Companies with backup generators can continue functioning through an outage
- Regular and safety-conscious generator maintenance is key to smooth operations and personal safety
Backup generators might be the very definition of “You don’t need it until you do.” Maybe it’s because many businesses believe electrical disasters only happen to other organizations. Maybe it’s because how they work can be a bit mysterious.
One of the biggest headaches for electrical experts is when we hear, “Oh, we can muddle through without a generator.” Yeah, you could, like you could muddle through without doors if you just climbed in and out of the windows. It’s simply more trouble than it’s worth.
The worst possible place for that attitude is in a data center which, after healthcare facilities, stands to suffer the most serious impact from power outages. Let’s explain the great importance of a generator at your workplace and the kind of risks your people, property, and profits face without one.
The dangerous drawbacks of working without a generator
A backup generator is one of a data center’s three MVPs, with the others being designing the right uninterruptible power supply and building an optimized rack power distribution unit. A backup generator becomes twice as important if your site is in a region where adverse weather and lightning happen regularly, like here in Florida. Here are more reasons why a power generator is essential:
1. It helps prevent heat-related illnesses
No generator in a power outage means no AC. This can be uncomfortable and dangerous, especially somewhere like Florida. Heat-related illnesses can quickly affect staff and cause loss of consciousness, cardiovascular issues, nausea, and more. Staff who are older and/or have existing medical conditions are at pronounced risk.
2. It can cool overly hot equipment
Tech gets “sick” in its own way as elevated ambient temperatures start slowly affecting hardware. In a worst-case scenario, databanks and servers will continue running while cooling systems have been knocked out, causing them to overheat quickly. Fried circuit boards and toasted data are a recipe for business disaster.
3. It can prevent you from losing a small (or large) fortune to downtime
Losing power stalls your operations, tanking your productivity and leading to lost profits until everything’s back online. A single hour of downtime can cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the size of your operations. Add to this the potential reputational damage or customer lawsuits, and the cost of a generator becomes way more attractive!
4. Constant power helps keep your site secure
Any data center worth its salt has electronic security locks on sensitive areas like server rooms or system access points. Losing power effectively opens all those doors to unauthorized entrants.
We’re guessing you’re now totally convinced that having a backup generator is a no-brainer. What does require some brainpower is choosing the correct size and power output for your particular site, so you’re not stuck with less or more power than you need.
Choosing the right power generator at your office
There’s another big mistake caused by a lack of knowledge or a reckless desire to cut financial corners. We’re talking about wheeling in that generator you have at home to also take care of the office. Residentials won’t cut the mustard at your workplace because:
- They’re too weak for even a small office’s power needs.
- Some residential models require manual activation, which may be dangerous or impossible in adverse weather conditions.
- Those same weather conditions can pick up a residential generator and hurl it into the next zip code.
A commercial generator installation sees it fixed to the ground and wired to supply megawatt backup power instantly and automatically. Data centers in particular will need one of these muscular commercial models that deliver peak power and then some.
We simplified the selection process in an earlier blog, with some of the key criteria for generator installation being your site’s square footage (plus some extra power per square foot), the size and location of your electrical room, or the outside area you intend to use. Monitoring your peak power usage and then adding 25% is another good indicator of the kind of backup you should have.
Your center will need an experienced electrical professional to ensure the generator installation goes smoothly and is up to rigorous local codes for wiring, grounding, and other essential electrical concerns. Check out this example from Miami-Dade to see how complex the generator installation process can be!
Smart commercial generator maintenance
Mother Nature and Uncle Sam are two visitors your business doesn’t want. The first will drop a hurricane on your worksite; the second could shut it down if your generator isn’t up to code. You can avoid the effects of both through a handful of generator maintenance steps:
- Keep fuel, water, oil, and coolants at optimal levels and regularly refreshed, but never when the generator is running! A live generator and flammable material can cause serious injury or death.
- Run the generator for at least 30 minutes once a week as a performance test, and have it inspected at yearly intervals.
- Only use your commercial generator for critical loads, which are the equipment and operations that must always stay functional so you can stay in business. This puts less stress on the generator over time, meaning less maintenance and less expense.
Generator maintenance can be dangerous without professional advice. Keep a reputable electrical firm on speed dial to ensure optimal generator performance and your personal safety.
Contact the UES team for expert generator assistance
Our decades of electrical experience have helped many different industries design, install, and maintain the perfect power solutions for their needs. Data centers are one of our specialties, so just contact us for trustworthy advice or to get a free quote!