Prevent power disruptions with a backup generator

ibhsPower outages resulting from unpredictable weather, man-made or natural disasters, or site-specific events can disrupt your business operations, and even cause significant damage to your business’ competitiveness. Worse, statistics show that one in four small businesses  forced to close due to a disaster, never reopen. To ensure you stay open for business when disasters strike, have a back-up generator on hand.

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) recommends that businesses purchase and regularly maintain a generator. A generator will help keep your business running, no matter what the weather.  This fall-back tool enables you to continue operating some or all of your electronic equipment and lights and minimize business interruptions.

The following provides basic guidelines when considering a commercial generator. Additional information on buying, installing, maintaining and using a commercial generator is available on IBHS’ DisasterSafety website.

Choosing a Generator
Before purchasing an electrical power generator, consider what electrical equipment must be operable when normal power is interrupted. Other considerations include:

  • how often does your business lose power and for how long;
  • what are the most likely sources of power outages; and
  • do you need a portable generator or a permanent generator.

Purchase and Installation
IBHS recommends retaining an expert who has extensive experience with all types of generators to assist in choosing the design and installation of the right generator; specific attention should be paid to the applications required to meet your business needs. Make sure the  expert helps select the right size generator for your needs. This will include a determination of wattage needs (constant and start-up) and voltage ratings.

Testing and Maintenance
Most emergency generator failures are typically caused by poor testing and maintenance practices. IBHS suggests that maintenance contracts with third parties are a good way to make sure your system is regularly maintained and achieves prime performance. In addition, before an impending storm strikes that could result in a power outage, test the generator system and top off all liquids at the conclusion of the test.

Safety Considerations
Using a generator poses certain risks that must be addressed for safe operation, including fire, damage to electrical equipment, and even injury or death to those operating the generator or working in the building where it is being used.

  • Business owners should never use generators indoors or outside near windows, vents, or air intakes that could allow carbon dioxide from the exhaust to come indoors.
  • Never overload a generator. Before using a generator, contact a certified electrician to conduct an electrical load analysis of the building and equipment to determine the power consumption of the entire building and individual electrical equipment.

Additional resources to help business owners create a business continuity plan are available through IBHS’ Open For Business and OFB-EZ programs. Both provide free, easy-to-use downloadable toolkits.

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