5 Things to Consider When Building an Electrical Power Backup Plan

Blog
Jan 3, 2022

While most of us are used to the idea of reliable constant electrical energy, the reality is that it can be one tenuous string. In many parts of the country, storms, deep freezes, snow, and other natural disasters can rapidly cut regional electricity for hours or even days. Furthermore, even if your business is located in a reasonably weather-stable area, there's always the possibility of freak accidents, human error, or planned outages.

The reality is that there's no way to be sure about the constant reliability of any externally derived electrical source. For businesses and organizations of many kinds, a loss of electricity can be catastrophic, even if it lasts for just a few minutes; a multi-day electrical shortage can cause financial, data, and logistical effects on any organization. Just how costly can these events be? Research estimates indicate that power outages cost U.S businesses more than $27 billion per year, and the cost trend is growing upwards, not downwards.

You need to protect yourself and maintain business continuity, and the one surefire way to do that is by maintaining your own internal backup power supply, ideally, one that's capable of keeping the lights on and your systems running for several days or longer if needed.

This guide explains the five crucial things you need to consider for achieving just this sort of secure redundancy.

Maintain a Robust Portable Generator

Depending on the size of your business installations and power needs, your quickest, best, and most useful source of emergency electrical power will be a compact portable generator that you keep on standby. These can be bought in almost any hardware store, and larger, truck-mounted models are capable of supplying electricity for days.

The critical thing to keep in mind for these generators is to buy and have them ready before the next power outage occurs. Once disaster strikes, retailers tend to run out of items like generators of any kind rapidly (as we saw during recent hurricanes and wildfires), and even fuel can rapidly become scarce. For these reasons, you should have your portable generator ready well in advance, have it inspected regularly, and always keep it fully fueled, or contract with a company that guarantees this preparation.

Maintain Long-Term Standby Generators

While portable generators are a rapid and often highly affordable solution to power outages, they're far from appropriate for all situations or power needs. Furthermore, many of them require you to plug equipment directly into them and turn them on manually. All of these measures will take time and can cause unexpected problems.

A standby generator is an even more robust solution for emergency power. These power systems work much like portable generators but do so on a larger scale. They're also crucially different in that they're installed directly into your organization's internal electrical system so that they can kick into gear as soon as the power goes out. Standby generators tend to be much costlier to buy, install, maintain and often require permits for their specialized installation, which is why we recommend partnering with a company that takes care of this for you and minimizes the chances of a supply shortage. With all that in mind, if your business needs genuinely robust, long-lasting emergency electricity, these devices are an extremely effective option.

Ensure Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS)

Even with the best standby generators waiting to kick into gear automatically, most grid power failures will mean at least a few seconds or minutes of zero electricity for your facilities and equipment. This isn't a problem for many businesses, but if you have time-critical computer systems running, even a single moment of electrical loss can mean enormously costly data losses. There are also susceptible electronic devices running in some facilities, which cannot be suddenly shut down without the risk of damage.

For these contexts, you should also invest in what are called Uninterruptible Power Supplies, or UPS devices. These are generally inexpensive and can integrate with your existing emergency power systems to provide those few crucial minutes of continuous electricity when the power grid dies and your alternative power system kicks into life.

Work Towards Long-Term Alternative Power Sources

While generators and continuous power supply systems are superbly helpful for most business needs, your best bet for secure long-term electrical power will be to switch over to alternative renewable electrical sources if at all possible. By these, we're referring to systems such as roof-top solar power arrays, wind energy devices on your property, or possibly even other sources of ultra-localized, consistent, and renewable electricity.

Your transition to your own renewables doesn't need to be total. As a middle choice, it's possible to invest in them for the sake of crucial systems power provision. This way, you'll have peace of mind knowing that even if the general grid goes down, the most critical part of your electrical needs was never relying on it in the first place. Your own renewable power sources, combined with emergency generators in the case of extreme emergencies, should make your organization all but impervious to even the worst power cuts.

Further Solutions for Reducing the Effects of Power Outages

Ensuring a robust and continuous supply of emergency energy is a powerful tool against disaster in almost any context. Still, there are also ways to lighten your possible harm if your electrical systems fail. Keep some of these tips in mind for achieving this:

Minimal perishable inventory: If you're in a business that involves highly perishable products that are only kept fresh with constant electrical resources, work to keep a reduced inventory that will minimize your losses in the event of an energy cut.

External cloud solutions: If your company depends on a heavy dose of software and data storage to function, one solution is to invest heavily in cloud-based data backup and business-data management systems. By having these active in the background at all times, power losses don't need to become data losses, and you might even be able to rapidly relocate your business functions to a place where electricity still works. You can then reconnect with your cloud provider accounts.

Emergency response exercises: When the power goes out, and especially if it does so in the middle of a general emergency, you should have your staff trained on handling all the needed tasks for activating generators, saving data, and saving crucial capital assets or inventory. This means training them beforehand and ensuring that the training has been internalized.

Seek Professional Help and Installation

Setting up a truly robust, professionally installed recovery protocol for power outages can be a complicated task, and choosing to do so yourself can open your organization up to vulnerabilities and high costs. This applies especially if your business is more complex or has unique needs. For these situations and in any context in which you need emergency power sources, calling in professional assistance for your power backup needs is an ideal choice that will save you time, money, and stress. Agility experts can help and have the tools for a robust backup energy system for your business.

Prepare for an Outage

Our power and generator checklist will help you prepare for what to do before and during an outage.