Identify your operation’s essential operating factors and give them the support they need
- Critical loads carry your business every day
- Essential loads are similar and should also be prioritized
- A generator will provide the backup power to help carry those loads
- An uninterruptible power supply can be a very important supporting factor
“Critical generator loads” isn’t just a cool, dramatic name. They’re key. They’re crucial. They’re pivotal in deciding if you stay in business as usual or see productivity go up in smoke when the power goes out. They’re also the opposite of non-critical loads (no shock there) and knowing the difference between the two is, well, critical.
The main question is: What actually defines these two factors when it comes to your unique operation? It isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing. Once you know the answer to that, you can implement the best generator practices for your business. Let’s get a bit more technical and explain how to manage critical loads and get the most out of backup power solutions.
Critical vs. non-critical loads
Business managers can adopt a coach mindset and look at critical loads like electrical MVPs. These loads carry your operation. Things go very wrong without them. They must be prioritized and kept juiced up at all times so they can continue working even when there’s a power failure. Think of life-saving equipment in a medical facility that absolutely cannot turn off no matter what happens. That’s a critical load. Other business models can ask “What will sink us or others if it stops working?” to discover their own.
Now Coach, look over at the players who always show up and contribute. Sure, they’re solid and dependable but if they couldn’t make it to play one day, you’d get by. For example, the office fridge, snack dispensers, and printers may not be essential to your mission. They’re your non-critical loads, and again, these differ from business to business. Some people can’t live without salty snacks at lunchtime. We respect that.
Ask yourself the following questions if you’re still having doubts about what a critical and non-critical load is:
- “Do our customers need this to get in touch with us and vice versa?”
- “Are lives or human safety at immediate risk if ‘X’ turns off?”
- “Does our ability to supply our product/service ride on this factor?”
- “Does this have ‘class-action lawsuit’ written all over it if it stops working?”
- “Have pretzels got a hold on me that I can’t break?”
Congratulations! You now have a shortlist of what’s key and what’s temporarily expendable during a power outage.
Maybe these critical loads have to keep running for hours or even days. Maybe they need to stay up just long enough to be closed down using the proper steps (and not blown out by a power outage, natural disaster, or power surge that can cook computers and destroy databases). Here’s what you need to invest in to cover both contingencies.
Generators and Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS)
These are as critical as the vital loads themselves. In fact, if you’re in the healthcare business, you’re required by law to have emergency backup power systems in place. Your particular business may need one or the other of the following options. It’s absolutely necessary in some cases to have both:
The heavy hitter of power backup shouldn’t be confused with residential options, which don’t have the muscle to shoulder critical business loads. We’ve put a crash course together if you don’t know how generators work or how to stay safe around one.
Every business has different dimensions and needs that will dictate how powerful their generator has to be. Square footage, kilowatt requirements, and other factors contribute to choosing the right generator for the job. There’s a small window between the power going out and the generator kicking in no matter which model you choose, so factor that very important point into your plans.
This brings us to two other important load definitions: essential and non-essential. Non-essential loads are basically identical to non-critical ones. Essential loads are those functions that are important to safety, health, and productivity but can stand to be off for the minimal time it takes the generator to start and no longer.
A UPS is required when not even a little bit of downtime can be tolerated without endangering people and core processes. This is a temporary power solution, unlike a commercial generator, and can’t supply power for long on its own due to being battery-powered. Think of the UPS as Robin and the generator as Batman: it does basically the same job but it’s a lot shorter.
Healthcare facilities are a prime example of a necessary UPS and generator combo with the UPS allowing systems to hang in there until the critical load can be passed to the generator. A UPS is also great if your business just needs some time to shut down systems safely before turning them off voluntarily during a power crisis.
Hiring a team that excels at UPS installation is essential to managing critical loads. Another big UPS bonus is the protection they offer for multiple devices against serious damage that can occur to equipment during a power surge. There’s also no need for a transfer switch – a part of a generator that gets tricky if you don’t know how to use it.
There aren’t as many UPS options out there as there are generator choices (three for UPS and five for generators) so consult with electrical professionals to make the right choice. Check out our earlier blog on UPS maintenance to learn more about caring for it once you have one.
Speak to the electrical experts with any questions
The Universal Electrical Team is licensed throughout the state of Florida. We bring over 20 years of experience to backup power situations and solving problems with your current one. We’ll help you choose the right generator type and decide if a UPS backup or pretzel intervention is necessary. Visit our contact page if you have any questions or concerns and we’ll be happy to help!