Is Your Building Ready for an Emergency Power System Upgrade?

Power outages can take out more than just your lights and WiFi. You can also say goodbye to your communication systems, payment platforms, emergency alarms, and your heating and cooling systems, just to name a few. That is unless you have an emergency power system on standby, ready to kick on whenever the power goes out.

Suncoast Power has been a licensed commercial electrical contractor in Florida for more than 30 years. We specialize in helping small and large businesses, contractors, and property owners throughout Florida streamline their power solutions. Our team can design, source, and install an emergency power system, such as a fuel-powered backup generator, natural gas-powered generator, or even solar panel arrays.

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If losing power isn’t in your budget, call Suncoast Power today and schedule a consultation to discuss your property and power requirements.

What Is an Emergency Power System?

An emergency power system is a backup power generator that automatically switches on when the power goes out. Emergency systems power critical building components that affect the safety of the people inside, including:

  • Communications systems
  • Fire alarms
  • Smoke detectors
  • Emergency lights
  • Elevators
  • Fire pumps
  • Other emergency power supplies

Once the primary power source comes back on, the generator will shut off so your building can continue operating normally.

Unlike emergency power systems, optional standby generators also power non-critical building functions like heating, air conditioning, computers, phones, main lights, etc. You may need an emergency power system to prevent catastrophic outages, though a standby generator will help you operate at normal capacity without your primary power source.

Why Power Systems and Generators Are Important for Businesses

The U.S. Energy Information Administration found that in 2020, the average electric customer suffered eight total hours of power interruptions throughout the year. Emergency and standby generators will keep your employees or occupants safe and help your building stay open during these power outages to prevent inventory loss and keep everyone comfortble. Emergency power systems enable you to:

Stay Open During Power Outages

Usually, when a hurricane rips through town, all the local businesses and large corporations shut down for days, if not weeks, because their facility doesn’t have power. With an emergency power system, you can stay open. As one of the few open businesses during large outages, you may even attract new clients from your competition.

Avoid Inventory Loss

If your inventory requires power, you could lose thousands of dollars in goods and products from just a quick power outage. For example, restaurants, grocery stores, and bakeries need refrigerators and freezers to keep produce, meat, and dairy fresh. An emergency power system ensures that all your inventory will stay cool during an outage so that you won’t waste resources.

Stay on Schedule

Outages don’t just impact the food industry. Service-oriented businesses rely on electricity for communication, servicing calls, and client information. A brief power loss could push the whole team behind schedule causing revenue loss.

Emergency power systems ensure you’ll never have a breach in communication, so your team can continue functioning without missing a beat.

What Does an Emergency Power System Power?

Your emergency power system should power all critical building aspects that keep your occupants safe and non-critical electronics that contribute to your business’s profits.

Critical safety components include alarms, emergency lighting, and exit systems. Non-critical electronics may include your communication devices, HVAC system, refrigerators, computers, registers, lights, and more.

Types of Emergency Power System Upgrades

An outdated emergency power system could fail you at any time. When upgrading, it’s essential to consider the most critical improvement opportunities. We recommend the following system upgrade necessities to improve your building’s safety and performance.

Premise-wide Surge Protection

Surge protectors protect circuit breakers from voltage spikes. Lightning storms and switching transients often cause sudden pulses in voltage. Upgrading your emergency power system with comprehensive surge protectors will prevent circuit breakers from burning out, minimizing the change of outages or fires.

Addition of Advanced Arc-Fault and Ground-Fault Protection

Advanced arc-fault and ground-fault protection upgrades allow your circuit breakers to detect damaged wires or electrical insulation within your property. After detecting the dangerous area, the system will immediately shut power off to those lines to prevent fire hazards. Many new buildings must have this technology to meet code, though older properties should consider upgrading to avoid hazardous conditions.

Why Your Building Needs an Emergency Power System Upgrade

Electricity is essential for most properties and businesses, so investing in a safe and robust backup plan is critical. An upgraded emergency power system will not only protect your building from outages but provides several benefits, including:

Improved Reliability

Many complex factors affect how well your system functions. Between the circuit breakers, all contact points, mechanical interlocking, and connection points, many things could fail at any moment with an outdated system. One minor malfunction often causes the entire generator to shut down, leaving you without power.

Upgrading your emergency power system will improve reliability and ensure you receive power when needed most.

Get More Out of Your System

Outdated emergency power systems don’t offer the same functionalities and features as new ones. For example, many modern generators now include WiFi pairing abilities that allow you to monitor and control power outputs from your mobile devices. If you pay a lot of money to power and maintain your old system, you may want to consider investing those funds toward a system that boasts better features.

Aside from convenience improvements, upgrading your system also offers better efficiency rates and improved outputs.

Improved Efficiency

Modern technological advancements continue increasing energy efficiency to improve the planet’s health and the consumer’s costs. Your old generator from 15 years ago likely lacks these enhanced upgrades, creating far more expenditures on energy bills. Upgrading to a new emergency power system can save you money in the future, reduce your carbon footprint, and improve your environmental impact.

Reduced Maintenance Costs

Commercial-grade generators require maintenance and repairs. The older your unit is, the more you must spend each year to keep it running. The compiled maintenance and repair costs usually aren’t worthy investments on older systems that only have a few years left.

Instead, those funds should be invested in a new system that won’t require many annual maintenance costs. When you purchase an upgraded system once, you can save money in the future.

Provides Additional Protection

The older the emergency system, the less likely the manufacturer makes parts to service and repair it. Older generators frequently fail, and repairs can take a long time when they do.

Rather than being stuck without power, upgrading your system now will provide maximum power outage protection later.

Easy Integration

Installing and integrating a new system within your building may sound overwhelming, time-consuming, and costly. Luckily, most modern emergency power generators include easy-to-use technology that we can help you set up in no time. Our team can install the entire system for you and adjust your current electrical solutions to maximize energy efficiency.

Keeps Your System Code Compliant

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requires all buildings to meet specific safety codes. Commercial generators must meet NFPA compliance to keep occupants safe and adhere to government regulations. Outdated systems may not meet the requirements or may have malfunctions that place your property at risk.

As a business or property owner, you don’t want to be accountable for a faulty system. You’ll want to update your system to meet these codes and keep everyone in the building safe. The main emergency power codes to follow, include:

  • NFPA 110
  • NFPA 70
  • NEC 700

Continue reading below for specifications on each of these codes.

NFPA 110 Requirements

NFPA 110 covers all requirements surrounding emergency and standby generators to ensure your system always operates safely. It includes equipment specifications, fuel requirements, maintenance, and testing needs.

Equipment Specifications

NFPA 10 requirements include two separate level applications:

  • Level 1 systems provide critical power to items that protect human lives, including safety illumination, communication, ventilation, and fire pumps.
  • Level 2 systems include less critical power sources, like heating, sewage disposal, refrigeration, etc.

You must meet the associated system requirements if you have a designated Level 1 or Level 2 system. Even if your system isn’t a designated Level 1 or 2, you still may want to follow these requirements for maximum safety.

Fuel Requirements

The NFPA also mandates fuel storage levels in NFPA 30, Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code. You need to have enough fuel onsite to keep your business operating during an outage.

The required levels vary based on fuel type and system size, though generally, you should store 133% of your fuel capacity. For example, if your system carries a maximum of 9,000 gallons for 48 operational hours, you should store 12,000 gallons.

We recommend considering a fuel access plan to determine how you will receive additional fuel beyond your stored amount if the power goes out for an extended period of time. Outline your delivery methods and costs for a comprehensive strategy.

Maintenance and Testing

The NFPA requires standard testing and maintenance to ensure that your system operates at peak performance levels when you need it most. Typically, it recommends following your manufacturer’s maintenance schedule or the provided alternative below.

Maintenance Plans

You can follow your manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, though we recommend these practices:

  • Three maintenance inspections per year
  • Annual two to four-hour bank load tests
  • Annual maintenance on the automatic transfer switch
  • Annual fuel testing and fuel tank inspections
  • Annual testing on the insulation resistance
  • General annual maintenance

You may also need to replace the battery regularly, conduct cooling system services, and adjust the valves. Suncoast Power can perform these services at the appropriate times.

Testing Requirements

Aside from the maintenance schedule above, you also must complete regular system tests, including:

  • Annual diesel EPS energy converter testing
  • Monthly spark-ignition EPS testing
  • ATS rotations (if you have multiple)
  • Annual Level 1 circuit breaker exercises
  • Annual load bank testing for Level 1 systems

NFPA 70/NEC 700 Requirements

NFPA 70, National Electrical Code, discusses which systems your business or building must have and which ones you should consider. NEC 700 discusses emergency power system requirements for critical organizations, such as hospitals, where a power outage puts lives at risk.

Legally Required Emergency System Requirements

Legally required emergency systems reduce hazards, turn on smoke alarms, control sewage lift pumps, and enable firefighters to complete rescue operations. Depending on your property size, occupant numbers, and system, you likely have other requirements that must be followed, including:

  • A system testing witness
  • Regular testing
  • 60-second power transfer speeds
  • Automatic power transfers during an outage
  • Adequate fuel storage

Optional Standby System Requirements

Optional standby systems provide power to functions that would result in profit losses during a power outage. Optional standby generators must adhere to the following requirements:

  • The system must have a standby switch to prevent simultaneous power inputs.
  • The generator and wiring must have appropriate signage to display the alternate power source.
  • The system must have the necessary voltage capacity for your building’s power output.
  • Installation must include the necessary grounding and bonding.
  • General wiring requirements must be met.

Is Your Building in Need of An Emergency Power System Upgrade?

Don’t wait for the next power outage to upgrade your emergency power generators. Do it today to avoid suffering a minute without power! At Suncoast Power, we can examine your current power solution, test your system, and help you upgrade to meet modern demands.

Our team can help you find the best emergency power system for your building’s needs. We’ll handle the installation, re-wiring, and circuit breaker adjustments in our end-to-end service to keep your building up-to-code and efficient.

Call Suncoast Power at (754) 200-5872 to speak with our professional team about your emergency power system upgrade. Our representatives are ready to answer any questions you may have and schedule your upgrade!