How to Choose the Right Portable Generator for Commercial Uses

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Power outages, even when they are announced, can quickly disrupt a business’ operations. While you can manage through a power cut at home, the same cannot be said for a commercial property. As a business owner or manager, you need to be assured of uninterrupted power supply for your business. The best way to stay prepared for a power outage is by purchasing a portable generator for your commercial space. 

If you’re not prepared for such, you could lose business, customers, and money. In some cases, some businesses need power supply for their products and services to keep running e.g dining outlets, coffee shops, and so on. Even if your services are manual, you will still require electricity for important things like processing the bill, keeping the temperature suitable, and more. Electricity is indispensable for a business, and it should be treated as such. You can keep your business ready for power issues with a suitable portable generator for commercial use.

Why You Need a Portable Generator for Commercial Use

Portable generator for commercial use

A portable generator is an important addition to your commercial equipment. Here’s why:

Avoid disruption of work

A power outage can stop or limit your ability to work. Most equipment need electricity, regardless of the type of work you do. Employees may not be able to complete their tasks as the equipment they need to work might not be functional. If the blackout last for a long period of time, the business owner may have to hire extra help to complete all the backlogged tasks. 

The speed at which products and services are sold will also reduce, slowing down inventory turnover. The effect of this on any business will be less inflow of money. 

Avoid financial loss

The downtime caused by a power outage can cost your business revenues by the hour. Business operations will halt, and in the case of an extended power outage, the financial impact could get even worse. Not only will you lose revenue, but labour costs will continue to stack up as your workforce continues to manage through the outage. With a portable generator in your commercial space, you won’t have to worry about losing customers or revenue. Power outage or not, your business will continue to run smoothly.  

Prove that your business is reliable

In the event of a power outage, potential customers will be out seeking for places to get the services they need. Having a backup power source shows that your business is prepared for eventualities, and can be considered as reliable. Your returning customers will be pleased to know that they can count on your business to be available when needed. Such situations can also be a lucky break for your business, as potential customers will seek you out. It is important to be proactive concerning your business as it helps customers find you easily. 

Protect security systems

Security systems installed in business locations are usually monitored and controlled using electrical power. This includes cameras, locks, and alarm systems. In the event of a power outage, security systems will be down. Although we like to think of our environments as safe, people with criminal intent often try to take advantage of such situations because of the lower risk of getting caught. With a portable generator up and running, your security system will stay active, and you can protect your business and customers from harm’s way. You can also easily alert the police once you spot any suspicious behaviour through your active security system. 

Avoid data loss

A lot of important tasks like inventory, customer relationship management, and order processing are completed using technology. In the event of a power outage before such data is stored, they could be lost. This can cause major problems for both the business and the customers. A reliable backup energy source, such as portable generators, is needed to protect business data. Once the power goes out, the generator can be switched on before temporary electricity sources (such as the UPS) run out of power. 

Features to Look out for in a Portable Generator for Commercial Use 

Now that you understand why every business needs a portable generator for commercial use, here’s how to choose the right one for yours. 

  • Wattage of your essential equipment

Before you purchase any portable generator, you should first confirm that it can carry all the needed equipment. The easiest way to do this is list out your most important appliances, find out their wattage and calculate it. With this number, you can go generator shopping for a unit that can carry your total wattage and more. Every appliance or equipment has its wattage indicated on the nameplate, so that information should be easy to find. The strength of a generator is not in its physical size but it’s output capacity. 

  • Diesel or petrol?

Your preferred fuel type is also an important factor. Diesel engines are more expensive, and so is the fuel. However, they are more energy efficient than the petrol engine. They also cost more in maintenance fees. The petrol engine, on the other hand, burns fuel faster than the diesel engine. This engine costs less, with less fuel and maintenance costs. 

Your final choice should be based on your long term needs. If you need a portable generator urgently, you can go for the petrol option. If you don’t plan to use it too often, then you won’t have to spend as much on fuel and maintenance. If you want a generator that will be used frequently over a long period of time, the diesel engine is your best option. 

  • Electric or manual start?

Portable generators can either be electric- push to start, or manual- starts with a rope pull. Both methods can be learned by anyone, but it’s important to choose an option that is easy for you. The electric option is obviously the easiest and can be used without any practice. With the rope pulling, it might take a few tries. Also remember that during the winter season, everything is harder to use, including generator ropes. If you don’t have the arm strength or patience for manual start, then go for electric instead. 

  • Size and storage 

The storage space available also determines your final choice. Some commercial properties provide enough space to store additional appliances, such as generators, while others do not. You should plan out where the generator will be kept before making the purchase. If there’s no indoor space available, you can build an outdoor extension for the generator. 

Note that your generator will also need an outdoor space for when it is use. Generators cannot be used inside a building as they release carbon monoxide, a gas that can poison people within minutes. Ensure that wherever you designate for generator use is open and airy. 

  • Look for safety certifications

One sign of a good generator brand is their ability to meet certification requirements. Any medium to large size equipment requires safety certification, and generators fall under this category. While weighing your options, ensure that they all have safety certifications from organizations such as UL, CSA, or ETL. These certifications prove that the products have been tested and approved as ‘safe for use’ by the certifying body. 

Your portable generator must also meet the standards of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) concerning electrical safety and gas emissions. These standards are put in place to ensure that your generator does not defect and cause any electrical problems or harm to your environment. 

  • Versatility

Depending on the type of business you run, your portable generator needs might exceed the occasional power outage. For a business that often has outdoor gigs, you might also need a portable generator to power your equipment. Outdoor gigs don’t always have stable electricity, so your generator can come in handy. In this case, go for an option that is easy to move around in your van or truck. Look out for generators with handles and wheels for easy mobility. 

  • Pricing and budget

All businesses operate on a budget, and your final choice should be within a set budget. There are several portable generators available in different price ranges, including your budget range. Choose the right option that provides all the features you need, as generators are long-term use equipment. The right generator is an investment as it will serve your business for several years. So while you’re being careful about spending too much, ensure that you do not micromanage enough to buy a generator that would not suit your needs. 

How to prepare your Business for a Possible Power Outage

Prepare your business for a power outage

During the Northeast blackout in 2003, half of the hospitals in the area could not benefit from their backup power installations. They had backup generators, they just didn’t know how to use them, or how these generators would perform in an emergency situation. While it’s important to keep your portable generator on standby, you should also have enough knowledge on how to use it and what output to expect in the case of emergency. 

When you purchase a portable generator for commercial use, here are a few important pointers you should remember. 

Determine ahead of time on which appliances will be connected 

In the event of a blackout, you want to be ready to make the switch to generator power as soon as possible. This is not the time to start experimenting with how much load the generator can carry. You need the knowledge of your essential equipment and appliances, and the wattage of your portable generator. With this information, you can make the switch easily. It also prevents from causing damage to the generator (by introducing a too-low or too-heavy electrical load). 

Use a high power electrical cord

You’ll probably be needing to transmit a heavy electrical load. For this, you need a heavy-duty cord which is the appropriate size and can carry heavy voltage and amps. It’s important to get the right size of cord to avoid heat buildup and possible degradation within the cord. Not only can this cause unexpected cut off to power supply, it also poses a fire risk to your commercial property. Use a three pronged cut, and ensure that its external insulation has no holes or cuts. Any damage to this cord could be hazardous, so it must be inspected regularly.  

Get an expert to install your generator

While you can follow detailed instructions and install the generator by yourself, we usually recommend that you seek the help of an expert instead. Different generators require different setup and installation practices, and experts are usually familiar with most of them. They also require external features such as cords and ATS. While trying to setup a generator by yourself, it is possible that you might fix or use something the wrong way. The expert or consultant you need might even take a your of your business facility and give pointers on other type of generator you need. Before any contractor handles your new generator, be sure to ask them for proof of insurance in case of equipment damage. 

Keep track of your fuel stock

With a proper working generator, all you need to stay running is enough fuel- diesel or petrol- depending on your engine type. You should be stocked up enough to cover at least one working day. In the case of a power outage, the first thing to do is check for how much fuel you have left, and how long it will last for. To avoid this concern, always restock your fuel after each use. 

#ProTip- Stay up to date on maintenance 

While you might have everything in place and ready to go at the hint of a blackout, it is possible for your generator to develop a fault. This is why regular maintenance of your generator is necessary. You do not need to take it apart every few months, but check in regularly to ensure that it is still operational. Run the engine, check the oil gauge, and perform other basic checkups. Occasionally, you can get an expert to run full maintenance on the generator. The important thing is to ensure that the engine is not left idle over long periods of time. 

Interested in purchasing a generator for commercial use? Check out these detailed reviews on our top recommended portable generators.

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