Energy management and proactive preparation can help any business stay up when power goes down.
- Power outages can be unpredictable, but businesses can always be prepared.
- Generators, UPS, and surge protection can be combined for maximum power backup and protection.
- Training your staff to react calmly during an outage will help keep them safe.
What price could your business pay in the aftermath of a power outage? Damage to sensitive equipment. The loss of customer data. Extended downtime which can cost thousands of dollars a minute — or more. It can happen in an instant and have repercussions, ranging from temporary setbacks to business-ending disasters
That’s the connection between power disruptions and losses to commercial productivity and profits. Many such connections and they’re all wired directly into your building! Every power cable is vulnerable to power outages and must be viewed as a potential liability.
Storm winds, heavy rains, and floods all increase the odds of a power outage and make Florida a hotspot. Luckily, knowledge is power! We’ve assembled actionable strategies to help your business prepare for future blackouts so you can stay operational when the grid goes down.
Understanding your power needs
Assessing critical electrical loads and essential services is vital prior to an outage. It doesn’t matter if you lose the coffee machine or printer for an hour or two (or other non-critical loads). Critical loads are the power and equipment necessary to maintain essential operations. In a data center, for example, would be your servers, rack PDUs, etc. You must prioritize your site’s health, safety, and security systems regardless of services you provide.
Identifying critical processes exposes the areas which leave your business most vulnerable to wider risks. These must be protected first against a power outage. Creating that safety net requires establishing backup power solutions.
Investment in backup power solutions
A generator is strongly recommended because it will kick in when the grid goes down so your business can continue to power its critical loads. Commercial power generators come in several types. It’s important to choose one that fits well on your premises and supplies all required power (and then some). A well-maintained generator can operate for decades.
Another form of backup is an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). These don’t last as long as commercial generators – they’re better suited to being time-sensitive emergency measures. UPS units give businesses a limited window to safely and securely shut down their systems instead of being abruptly switched off and potentially damaged by an outage.
Knowing how long it takes to close critical systems is a key factor in choosing the right UPS. So is inventorying all critical load equipment and its total wattage, which helps calculate the power load the UPS must support.
A UPS is also selected based on required response speed. Some designs are always online and supply instantaneous failover power, while others take slightly longer to switch over to battery power. The latter may pose an unacceptable delay for certain businesses.
As with generators, it’s best to pick a UPS which exceeds your current power needs. This extra power can provide backup should your business operations expand.
Protecting your equipment before and after a power outage
That moment when systems come back on may cause a sigh of relief, but it can also bring a massive influx of power as utilities surge back to life. This can damage or destroy sensitive electrical equipment. making surge protection devices another wise investment. They don’t provide extra power, but they do safeguard the power sources you already have by regulating incoming voltage.
These come in Types 1 to 3. Type 1 regulates the power entering your business from outside. Type 2 provides both external and internal surge protection. Type 3s are purely internal, can be attached to wall outlets or power strips, and are the weakest defense against power surges.
The safest arrangement is having all three types working as a connected triad of power supplies. Surge protectors have different joule ratings, so choosing the right type (and how many of them) depends on your site’s needs.
Implementing energy-efficiency measures
Energy efficiency is linked to how much backup power you’ll need. For example, a commercial site with LED lighting will use less energy than one using fluorescent or incandescent bulbs. Energy efficiency can also be boosted with a well-designed HVAC system. Businesses could consider using solar energy for some of their power or investing in new power-saving equipment.
Not sure you’d benefit from any of these? Conducting an energy audit is an effective way to discover how much power you’re using versus what is needed. Overall, the more efficient your energy use, the less you’ll have to spend on backup power. This could equate to a smaller generator, fewer UPS units, and bigger financial savings.
Training and safety protocols
Extended power outages require a response plan that makes it easier to train staff for power outage scenarios. A good plan uses visuals and text to detail evacuation routes, safe exits, and assembly points. It will also clearly spell out the dos and don’ts of outage management, such as appointing an emergency manager and avoiding elevators.
This should be given to every employee, posted in every room, and drilled at regular intervals while the power is still on (you’ll have trouble following that printed plan in the dark). Here’s an excellent government guide which covers all the bases. It also has further resources and offers outage drill scenarios your business can use to assess readiness.
Let UES help you prepare for power outages
The right backup equipment and foresight are really all you need to stay on top of power outages. Our experienced electricians can help you choose suitable backup power systems while staying compliant with local power regulations, zoning placements, and maintenance expectations.
Let UES visit your premises to assess key factors like site size, power needs, and critical loads so you can install backup power with confidence. Contact us to achieve comprehensive outage preparedness!