ACF Standby Systems Blog

Category archive: Generators

Winter Back-up

When we think about the Sunshine State and electricity consumption, we are inclined to picture high demand for energy on a steamy July afternoon. It seems logical to pay special attention to safeguarding your business from power outages during the summer months. While it is important to make sure that energy demand on an exceptionally hot and humid summer afternoon doesn’t stop your workday, winter demand can be just as high.

As Floridians we get cold when the temperature drops much below 70°. You’d be surprised how many space heaters and electric blankets get turned on in our state, not just up north in Jacksonville but down south in Miami and Melbourne also. In fact TECO and Progress Energy, the utility providers for the majority of central Florida, report record single-day electricity usage records as being the result of a cold front in January of 2010, not one of our notoriously hot summers.

Winter Electricity Demand

As always, record demands can easily lead to blackouts. Power outages caused by high demand for energy tend to happen at the beginning of the day. Think about it: demand will be high all night when thermostats are set to warm the house along with other heating elements. Then everyone wakes up and turns on televisions, radios and hot water heaters that all need even more energy without turning off the heat. This surge in demand can cause the utility provider to scramble to supply enough power and often results in multiple power outages to start the day.

By the time the utility provider has mobilized their staff to fix the first outage, several others likely pile up, leaving some without power for the entire day if not longer. That is why electric companies make pleas to the community to limit consumption on a cold day. Think about it: power companies sell electricity for profit, so if they are asking you to use less electricity, they are basically admitting an inability to cover demand and warning that you will likely experience some form of disruption in power supply. Can your business afford to be put on hold for a day? Especially at a time of year where vacations are likely, so you need to get as much work done in a day as possible. Or at a time of year where your sales increase to the point that you become profitable?

The bottom line here is that at some point, your bottom line will depend upon your ability to produce electricity, at least for a limited amount of time. To do this you need to have a standby system or set of generators on hand that can handle your electricity demands. Don’t confuse winter months and lack of electrical demand. Yes, we are lucky enough in Florida to be able to turn the air conditioner off during many winter days. Don’t forget the peak days that create surges for the utility providers and ultimately everyone who needs electricity. We will leave you with a couple of facts.

Florida Energy Facts

  • Florida’s per capita residential electrical demand is nearly the highest in the country. Utility providers have to meet demand for both residences and businesses, so you are not always guaranteed service.
  • Electricity in Florida is dependent upon petroleum, so any interruptions in the gas supply chain can cause issues for our ability to do so much as turn on lights.

Sources:

U.S. Energy Information Administration

TECO Press Release

St. Petersburg Times

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A Variety of Generators for a Variety of Needs

When it comes to power needs every building or complex is different. Your facility might need an entirely different standby system than another facility of equal size, depending upon what you actually do and what your electricity needs will be when the utility provider cannot help you out. In order to help you get a handle on what type of system would best suit your needs, it is beneficial to understand what your options are.

  • Industrial portable generators- The name is pretty self-explanatory here. These units are 100% mobile and can stand up to the environmental conditions that a “real life” work day will put them through. They also have the capability to produce enough power for a work environment; our units can produce anywhere from 3,000 to 11,000 watts on a continual basis. Fuel sources differ by model, allowing you to choose a generator that is easy to fill in your area or work environment. While they are good for producing power anywhere, industrial portable generators are not suitable to be permanent standby systems.
  • Industrial towable standby generators- These are truly multi-purpose units. You can take them anywhere that they can be towed behind a vehicle. You can also hook them up to a building, so that they serve as more permanent standby systems. Towable standby generators are specially designed to be quieter when they are operating, which makes them great options for recreational events with lots of people who don’t want to yell over a generator. With the ability to produce anywhere from 20 to 400kW, you can select a unit that produces enough energy to meet your needs.
  • Mobile light towers- Lighting is one of the most common things that generators and standby systems are used for. Without light you can’t work; it’s just that simple. To meet your lighting needs you can select a mobile generator that is specifically designed to light up areas as large as seven acres! These units can be towed to different work sites or kept in one place to fill a need for outdoor lighting.
  • Automatic emergency standby generators- These units are specifically designed of facilities with lighter duty emergency electrical needs. They are perfect for a home or small business and can produce up to 11kW of power. Automatic emergency standby generators are designed to be hooked up to your building so that they can monitor the power feed from your utility provider. They will even turn on and shut themselves off depending upon availability of power from your utility company.
  • Industrial agricultural standby generators- These heavier duty units produce anywhere from 30 to 200kW. They are fueled by diesel and are versatile enough to connect to any existing fuel tanks you might have. You have the option of using an industrial agricultural standby generator as a standby system in the event that power goes out, or you can use it as the primary power source for certain equipment.
  • Gaseous standby generators- These gas fueled units are intended to be used as standby systems. However they are great permanent fixtures at smaller facilities or even large private residences. They produce anywhere from 10 to 125kW and can be complemented by a variety of optional equipment to make the units quieter or more able to withstand harsh weather conditions.
  • Industrial diesel liquid cooled generators- These units are for facilities with large backup power needs or that might not have access to a utility provider at all. They supply between 30 and 2000kW of power using diesel as a fuel source. Due to their ability to provide various types of facilities with power, they are usually customized to meet your exact needs. They can be installed in a ship that docks out of the Port of Tampa or next to a factory that never leaves Jacksonville. Either way they will be ready to reliably supply huge amounts of electricity.
  • Industrial gaseous standby or prime power generators- These units are kind of like the little brother of the industrial diesel liquid cooled generators we just told you about. They operate off of gas as opposed to diesel and provide anywhere from 30 to 880kW. This is enough power to run a small building or provide backup electricity to a larger one. They are also custom built to meet your needs, so you will be able to get exactly what you want out of your purchase.

Once you have decided what your power needs are, what type of fuel will be best for you, and how you intend to use your generator or standby system, you are ready to pick the type of unit that is best for you. We hope that this list helps you to better understand the different varieties that are available. For more information on these types of units please visit us online.

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Why Buy Baldor

There are a lot of different brand names when it comes to backup power. Making a purchase decision for a generator or standby system means that you have to choose out the brand as well as the specific unit. While it is true that many manufacturers make quality products, not many manufacturers incorporate quality into their entire product line. One company might make great portable gas generators, but poor quality immobile standby systems. This is not the case with Baldor; they make products that they expect to put to work in the field. Product quality is a priority for this manufacturer.

Industrial Equipment

Many manufacturers make generators out of lesser quality parts. A lawn engine motor might work for a generator that only gets used twice a year for a couple of hours, but industrial equipment needs to be ready continually. Baldor knows this, so they make sure that the majority of their products are built around your need to work. They incorporate multiple exceptional features:

  • Magnetic grade lamination steel is used to construct the alternators, which helps control the voltage of the electricity and assists the unit in starting up.
  • A “dip and bake” thermal set epoxy varnish seals the units much better that a plastic or metal cover would. This means your generator will last longer even after it has been in the rain, wind and dirt.
  • An additional copper wire–the Inverter Spike Resistant Wire–helps the units run longer and actually reduces maintenance costs over time.
  • Portable units can provide at least 150% of their nameplate rating in short bursts, which means that you will have less issues getting your equipment up and running in the field.

A Committed Company

Have you ever noticed that the way a company feels about their business plays a big role in how well they operate and directly cues product quality? So have we. We have chosen to be a certified Baldor dealer throughout Florida because of the company’s commitment to making quality products. We carry their products in all sizes, from 2.5 kilowatt units all the way up to 2.5 megawatts. We have based our product line around Baldor because of their commitment to the industry. They think about their customers and product quality every step of the way. They can manufacture and deliver custom motors and drives in three weeks or less. This means that they are willing to give their customers exactly what they need in a reasonable amount of time.

Baldor representatives also spend countless hours every year talking to their customers. They want feedback so that they can continually improve and make sure that customers who depend on them for power get exactly what they need. We feel that customers should be provided the best products that are customized to their needs as well, so it made the decision to focus our product line on their gensets a no-brainer. When you are committed to your customers, your industry and quality you will surely rise to the top of your industry just as Baldor has.

Sources:

Baldor

USP&E

Generator Power.net

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The Power to Save Lives

Today’s post is dedicated to the ability that generators have to save lives. Yes, they can absolutely save businesses money, but in many instances they can do more. Think about all of the facilities that people depend on for life sustaining services. In addition think about all of the ways that backup or portable power can help reduce casualties.

Hospitals

Hospitals are the first type of facility on the list when it comes to saving lives. Patients who are in surgery or critical care units could literally die if the hospital goes without power for even a few moments. Patients hooked up to ventilators would not be able to breathe, while others who are on operating tables would not receive proper care and would lose blood if the power is discontinued. Hospitals save lives on a daily basis, and electricity is just as vital a tool for a hospital as doctors and scalpels are.

Water Treatment

Water treatment facilities clean water and oversee its distribution to the community. The overwhelming majority of citizens receive their water from water treatment facilities. Without the electricity that they need to operate, people would go without one of the most important things that our bodies need on a daily basis. It would not take long for stores to be out of bottled water. Soon enough people would be resorting to less clean sources of water which is one of the easiest ways to spread disease.

Power Plants

This is an interesting thing to think about. When the power goes out, the first entity to be blamed is the power plant. While it is true that providing power is their responsibility, from time to time they experience technical difficulties. If they have proper standby systems in place, these difficulties will be far easier to overcome. Not only will they still be able to provide power (likely on a limited basis), but they will be able to operate inside the facility effectively so as to be able to fix whatever has broken. Power plants supply large geographic areas with electricity. TECO provides more than just the city of Tampa with power, but many of the surrounding communities. The same can be said about Florida Power or any of the other large entities that are involved in powering the state of Florida. Even the power company needs a generator.

Military

The military currently uses generators and is thinking about new ways to incorporate them. Generators can restore utilities and provide field hospitals with power that can save lives. They are also looking into generators that run off of non-fossil fuel sources to use in the field. It is dangerous and costly to send units back and forth between bases and field outposts with fresh supplies and additional fuel for vehicles. Generators that run off of solar power or rechargeable batteries can be used in the field to provide lighting, electricity for computers and a variety of other things. These new-age generators will keep our troops safer, while giving them the tools they need to do their jobs. The technology that the military is currently developing and using will likely become available to consumers in the future. Their innovations could be the future of our business.

Standby systems and generators are useful to almost every person on the planet. Very few people choose to live without power. Between the need for lights and the climate in Florida, electricity is a must. If you want to ensure that your power will always be available, feel free to visit us online to find out about the products and service packages that we offer.

Sources:

The Press Enterprise

USP&E

Powered Generators.com

Department of Environmental Protection-Florida

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Are Portable Generators an Effective Purchase for Business?

In many instances, the standby systems that we discuss are not portable. They are large, immobile and can provide large amounts of energy when your utility provider can’t. When it comes to running a business, or powering any large facility, this is generally the kind of generator that people think of. This does not necessarily mean that their smaller counterparts are not useful for commercial purposes; you just need to know what you are getting into.

The biggest benefit of a portable generator is obvious: they are portable. You can keep them in one place if need be, but you can move them to a different part of your campus or an entirely different work site if circumstances change.

After severe weather, the ability to be flexible will be invaluable. You may very well need a portable generator in addition to you main standby system. If you have several buildings on your campus, then you likely do not have backup power in all of them. You may need power in one of your smaller building after the storm; your planned base of operations may be flooded or damaged.

If you work in construction, catering or another industry that requires you to change worksites frequently, a portable generator (or three) is a must-have. You do not want to get to a job site and not have lighting for your construction crew or find out that you cannot plug your plate warmer in before a big client’s wedding. In cases like these portable generators are worth every penny and should be at your disposal.

Some things to consider when choosing your portable generator are:

  • Continuous Rating- The amount of power that your generator will be able supply for a period of a few hours. If you only need to plug in a couple of things, then you can select a unit with a lower rating. Decide what you will need powered in advance, so you know how much capacity you need.
  • Maximum Rating- The amount of power that your unit can supply for a few minutes or less. This will be useful if you have overlap between different appliances, but do not intend for your generator to hold up at this level for long.
  • Wheels- While this sounds a bit basic, you will want to consider how mobile your portable generator is. Not all units have wheels and you may want to be able to move your generator around easily.
  • Voltmeter- This is a device on the generator itself that measures how much power the unit is producing. This will help you to ensure that you stay within your continuous rating in general and warn you as you approach maximum rating.
  • Fuel- Portable generators can be fueled by a variety of sources. You will want to make sure that you have easy access to the fuel that you need or your generator may be obsolete when you need it. Fuel sources for portable generators include:
    • Diesel
    • Gasoline
    • Natural Gas
    • Propane


In Florida, having a generator is a good idea. A portable generator is something that will be worth having bought in advance when you need it. If you are in the market for one you can find a great selection here.

SOURCES

Find Generators.net
Consumer Reports
Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs Canada
Portable Generators.com

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Are Generators Worth it? Just ask the State

We have spent a lot of time talking about disaster plans and how you need to be prepared. But what about the community, service providers, property managers and the like? What happens with them when disaster strikes? It seems like a lot of people don’t know, but the state of Florida put together a plan a few years ago. Now they are making sure that the plan is ready in the event that something does happen.

What we are talking about is F.S. 526.143(2). Granted it doesn’t look like much in this form, but it is one way that the state of Florida is making sure that generators are around to back us all up if a hurricane passes through. The law requires certain gas stations and buildings to have standby systems in place.

  • If a gas station is within a half of a mile of an interstate or evacuation route, it must have a backup generator that is capable of running the service station for consecutive 72 hour periods.
  • If a building is more than 75 feet tall and has an elevator, it must also have a generator that would allow the elevator to work for limited time periods during the day.
  • All of these generators have to be hooked up to a working transfer switch and receive regular maintenance.

Yes, the actual law is a little more specific and not every single station is required to have a generator, but you get the point. And don’t worry, the state gives tax incentives that make up for the cost of the equipment.

Think about it. If gas stations maintain power, our emergency infrastructure can still function. Fire trucks, ambulances and police cars will be able to get where they need to be to save lives. With working elevators everyone will be able to get out of a building, even those who have trouble with stairs. Rescue efforts will be easier and the loss of lives will be reduced. We like to think that some of our work could be responsible for saving our neighbors in the face of disaster. We also like living in a state where there is a plan in place in case something does happen. Peace of mind is worth far more than a generator costs.

SOURCES
ACF Standby Systems
Florida State Motor Fuel Supply Program PDF
WPTV.com West Palm Beach

What to look for when choosing a generator

We all know that having a generator can be invaluable when you need it. Power outages can stop the course of your business and even cost you money. The problem for many people seems not to be deciding to get a generator, but rather deciding which one to purchase. It is easy to get bogged down by ratings and load specifications. Unless you are an electrician or in the generator business, it isn’t likely that you know what your specific needs are. These tips will clear up some of your questions.

Which type of generator do I buy?

The first decision requires evaluating your electrical needs and deciding on an overall type of generator.

  • Portable- Portable generators fulfill a more temporary need. They are looked at this way because they are not hard wired into a buildings power supply. They are good because you can move them around from location to location providing you with flexibility. You can purchase units with a variety of capacities and fuel supplies. Generally they are smaller capacity and will not be able to say, power an entire office building. They will however be capable of maintaining vital auxiliary systems such as computer servers. They are also useful because they can be moved from location to location, serving you at multiple places of business.
  • Standby- Standby generators are usually larger than portable ones in capacity and size. They are wired directly into the electrical mainframe of buildings. In the event that the usual utility provider cannot supply electricity, a standby generator will be able to keep the building going. (assuming a generator with enough capacity has been purchased) Standby generators can even be programmed so that they turn on when they sense that your utility provider is down. This seemles transition can be vital during a power outage.

How much generator do I need?

Next you must determine how much power you will need your generator to supply. A generator expert is a good resource here. A trained generator expert will be able to estimate the capacity needs for the building that you want to power. (We would be glad to help) Powering an entire building will require a larger capacity than powering certain equipment, such as your main computer server and lights for example. Tell your expert what your needs are and he can tell you how much capacity your generator should have. The generator expert will evaluate the equipment that you want powered, measure the wattage requirements to both start and run the equipment, and finally give you a figure. This figure dictates the minimum wattage requirements that your generator will need to have.

What fuel type should I choose?

Many fuel sources are available and you can choose a generator that runs off of the one that suits your needs best. If your building is already equipped with natural gas lines, then purchasing a standby generator that operates off of natural gas will be the “natural” choice. If you do business in a variety of locations, you may prefer a portable generator that runs off of gasoline as you should be able to acquire fuel wherever your business takes you.

Common generator fuel sources

· Gasoline

· Diesel

· Natural Gas

· Wind turbine

· Propane

Purchasing a generator should be a calculated decision. You need a generator that has the capacity to serve you along with the physical capability and resource fitting fuel supply. The advice of an expert can be crucial to ensuring that you spend your money wisely.

When to Replace Your Generator

Having a generator on hand gives you piece of mind. Whether the generator is there to power your home or business in the event of an emergency, it is always a good idea to ensure that your equipment will be ready in the event that you need it. Generators most often come into play at crucial times when power is needed but not available from your traditional utility provider. Eventually, like all equipment, generators will need to be replaced. Repair and maintenance can only go so far and at some point it will be necessary to acquire a new generator. Here are some factors to consider about your current generator to help decide whether you should be in the market for repair or a new generator all together.

· Age and Usage- Every generator is different in output capacity, fuel requirements and life span; however there are some rules of thumb. Diesel powered generators tend to have the longest life span. It is estimated that a diesel powered generator can operate between 12,000 and 30,000 hours before any initial maintenance needs to be performed. In comparison most gasoline powered versions will need first maintenance after 6,000 to10,000 hours of use. This alone tells us that a gasoline powered unit will need to be replaced sooner than a diesel unit. While some large industrial unites can last for decades, the smaller household units will not. This is an important factor to consider when purchasing a generator. Generally speaking, the older your generator and the more it is used, the sooner you should be looking for a new one.

· Maintenance- Like all equipment, generators will need maintenance to continue working properly. One of the biggest signs that it is time to find a new generator is increased maintenance. If you find yourself having to fix, or have someone else fix, your generator more and more often, it is probably time to consider a new unit. The costs associated with regular repairs and the risk of not having a working unit when you need it will ultimately outweigh the price of new equipment. Older units that require a lot of maintenance are often less efficient and cannot provide the same amount of power as they once could.

· Increased Capacity Needs- Maybe you recently moved your business to a larger facility with higher kilowatt needs. Perhaps your business just put in a new computer network that requires more juice to run correctly. As time passes and we acquire new electrically powered equipment, our kilowatt needs may increase. If you do not acquire a new generator that is capable of powering your new equipment, you will be at a loss when the power goes out. Remember a generator is a necessary piece of equipment, just like the other new purchases you might have made. Make sure that your generator is capable of doing its job when you need it.

· Budget- Like many pieces of equipment, generators can require that you commit a significant amount of money when purchasing. If you are seeing signs that you will need a new generator in the future, and have the money in your budget now, it may be a good time to make the investment. Better now when the money is there than later when money is tight but you need a new unit.

Generators are tools that we often need in desperate times. Storms or power outages will happen and you will need power regardless of their presence. While we are happy to provide full maintenance packages to keep your equipment in working order, sometimes you will need a new generator. It is a decision that requires planning but one we recommend you make when needed.

Preparing Your Generator for Hurricane Season

We are a currently two months into the official hurricane season. From the beginning of June to the end of November, it is not only advisable but necessary to be ready for a hurricane. During and especially after a storm has passed over, there is a good chance that you and your business may be left without electricity.

A lack of electricity can cause multiple problems. Consider these potential benefits that you can experience in the event that you are left without power after a storm if you are prepared.

· Increased Revenue- If you provide products or services that people will need after a storm, it will be increasingly difficult to operate without power. Obviously, if you cannot do business you will lose revenues. A working generator can provide you an influx of cash to pay for your own post storm repairs.

· Social Responsibility- Your customers depend on you in good times and bad. If you are able to do business during a blackout or after a storm you will there for your customers and they will remember that. This will help down the road as it has the ability to create positive sentiment.

· Decreased Damage to Your Facility- Without power you will be less able to address damage inside your actual facility. This can lead to structural damage and loss of equipment and files. With a working generator you can carry on operations as soon as possible.

In order to avoid these and other issues you should take some time to prepare your generator. If you have not done it yet, take the time to follow these tips to stave off unnecessary hurricane damage

· Make sure that your generator is a deliberate part of your emergency plan. Does it have the capacity to meet your needs. Perhaps you bought the generator several years ago and have purchased more or larger equipment since. Ensure that your generator has the wattage capacity needed to operate your equipment/facility. Be sure to clear your equipment with your local electricity supplier to ensure you meet code. For a new or additional generator we suggest you consider one of these.

· Properly store your generator. Is a mounted generator in a location that is above potential flood levels or your portable generator stored in area that will not be underwater? If not, relocate it immediately. Also, be sure that your generator is in a location that can accommodate the potential exhaust. This will keep your air breathable while you work after a storm.

· Check to make sure your generator works. Start the generator to make sure that it will be ready when you need it.

· Have the generator inspected by a professional. Even if you generator starts you may want to consider service. Carburetor and other common problems can be avoided with timely checkups by certified service technicians.

· Be fuel ready. Regardless of which type of fuel powers your generator in times of need, have extra on hand. Being prepared will pay dividends when the lights go out. Also, you may need to remove old fuel that has been stagnant in the tank of your generator. Certain types of fuel need to be replaced if left in the generator for an extended period of time.

Your generator may be just one part of your hurricane preparation, but remember how important electricity will be after a storm. Electricity will power televisions and radios that will deliver news, refrigerators that will store food and even air conditioning which may be one of the few creature comforts available directly after a storm. More importantly, it will be impossible to get computer servers and alarm systems back online or to get employees back into a functioning office without electricity.

Top Seven Generator Problems

Companies rely on their generators for consistent and reliable performance during emergencies. Yet improper maintenance, operation, and even storage can impact a generator’s performance. Learning how to identify potential generator problems extends the life of your generator and ensures that it will operate optimally. These seven problems frequently cause generator maintenance challenges:

  1. Water damage: Although one might assume that this problem strikes only generators stored outside, it can affect those stored indoors as well. Water on the outside of the generator can cause rust to form, corroding wires and impeding electrical connections. Meanwhile if water gets on the inside of the generator engine, it can corrode parts and provide breeding grounds for bacteria, which can clog filters. Prevent water damage by using the generator in a dry place free of condensation and other moisture sources.
  2. Poor fuel quality: Generators that run on gasoline or diesel may begin to run rough or produce extra smoke due to poor fuel quality. Water in the fuel can cause the damage described above, while sediment in the fuel can wear down parts prematurely and cause clogs in the fuel filter and fuel injection system. Be sure to always use the manufacturer specified fuel quality, and buy fuel from a reliable source.
  3. Corroded connections: The wires and battery nodes can get corroded over time, causing a weak connection between the battery and generator engine. That breakdown can lead to difficulty starting the generator. Inspect wires and battery before each use. Look for rust, hardened casing, or any other substance that could hinder an electrical connection. Clean the battery nodes if necessary, and replace any faulty or damaged wires.
  4. Overheating: Generators are not designed to run at full capacity all the time. Generally they should run at 60 to 75% of their capacity. Brief dips below are okay, so long as the generator then runs at full capacity for a short time afterward. However, operating the generator at its maximum volume can cause it to overheat and shut down, similar to what happens when a car engine overheats. Check with a generator expert about the electrical load on your generator, to make sure it falls within the manufacturer’s specifications.
  5. Failure to start: When a generator won’t start, it’s usually because of a clog in the system or low fuel levels. Check both the oil and fuel before starting the generator, and carefully follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule to prevent clogs and damage. If a generator won’t start after a few tries, and there’s plenty of oil and fuel, it’s time to call a qualified generator service provider.
  6. Excessive smoke: Multiples problems can cause smoke, from dirty fuel injectors to water in the system. Usually this symptom goes along with a rough engine running. Sometimes using better fuel can solve the problem, but if it persists, consult a technician for repair.
  7. Inconsistent electrical supply: If the generator cuts on and off, or fails to provide a steady output, check the electrical connections first. If these are all operational, the problem could be that the engine is misfiring or has insufficient pressure for combustion. Call a generator repair technician as soon as possible.