A Guide to Commercial Generator Rentals

Heavy Construction

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Let’s face it: We’re all dependent on electricity. We’re members of a plugged-in economy and an electronic society. Without electricity, our homes go dark, our computers can’t compute, our cordless devices don’t charge, our food goes bad and our heating systems won’t warm our houses.

It’s an inconvenience for homeowners when the power goes out. But businesses suffer far worse when a sudden power loss happens and production must go on. For most businesses, whether it’s a small commercial operation or a huge industrial facility, continuous and reliable electricity supply is the lifeblood of their bottom line.

Temporary or backup electrical generation isn’t just necessary when power lines go down in natural disorders like hurricanes or ice storms. Auxiliary electrical power is required when accidents take out a section of the power grid and emergency crews take hours or even days to restore the flow. It’s times like these that many facility operators turn to renting generators.

Electrical generators are also commonly used on temporary construction sites when permanent power is yet to be installed or on short-term requirements such as community events, broadcasts and theatrical productions. Planned power shut down also occurs while performing maintenance of permanently installed standby generators, undergoing remedial work on existing building electrical systems or transporting perishable goods during relocations.

Regardless of the need for electrical generation that’s independent of the grid, failure to plan for service interruption will be costly. Loss of time, material and income all flow from interruption of a business’s electrical supply. Good business owners and managers know this and prepare in advance by building contingencies for renting a backup electrical generator.

Knowing their facility’s electrical requirements from full load capacity to the minimum priority power needed in serving critical components and functions are responsibilities that forward-thinking leaders take seriously. They know what’s necessary for an electrical interruption emergency. They also know where to go for assistance in planning and providing the right rental generator for their job.

Here’s what these switched-on owners, managers and industry leaders know about including a rental generator in their business plans.

Types of Rental Generators

Rental generators are available in a huge variety of shapes and sizes. They come with all sorts of attachments and devices to make them operate as an entire electrical supply system. Finding the right generator starts with the basics of knowing what electrical capacity is required, where the generator is to be located, what fuel it runs on and how long it’s going to be needed.

1 Huge Variety

In theory, generators are simple machines. They use an internal combustion engine to turn a core inside a coil creating a magnetic field of electricity that flows through wires to the source of consumption. That sounds easy and it is. It really depends on the amount of electricity required that dictates the type of generator to be rented

Rental generators come in four basic applications and are rated in wattage:

•      Recreational generators are small, lightweight units normally used for residential applications like backyard parties, sudden blackouts, camping trips and RV installations. Power output ranges from 800 to 3,000 watts.
•      Emergency generators are usually found in home situations where they are used for extended power outages. Often they’re found in rural areas where restoring electricity after a storm is a low priority compared to urban attention. Emergency generators are commonly wired right into the home’s electrical system with dedicated circuits that serve critical components like lights, heat and refrigeration. Wattage varies from 3,000 to 5,000.
•      Professional generators serve construction and light industrial situations. They come in portable units that are trucked or towed to a site and parked while in operation. These generators are suited as backup for existing standby generators and construction or events where plenty of short-term power is required. Between 5,000 and 10,000 watts are supplied.
•      Industrial generators are giants in the commercial rental generator world. They’re expensive machines designed to supply electricity to large applications like keeping critical components of factories or even medical centers operating. Output for industrial generators exceeds 10,000 watts and it’s here where economies of scale in renting a generator make sense.

Another primary consideration in renting a generator is the type of fuel the unit requires. All rental generators have internal combustion engines that run on these commonly available fuels:

•      Gasoline
•      Propane
•      Natural gas
•      Diesel fuel

Commercial generator rentals rarely use gasoline. Diesel is the most common fuel for industrial generators with propane second, followed by natural gas. Gasoline is left to the light-duty, recreational generator market.

As expected, generators produce a lot of heat both from their engines and from their generation assemblies. To avoid overheating, all generators from small recreational units to huge industrial machines require cooling systems. Two forms of cooling are used in electrical generators:

•      Air cooled — used by the smaller units below 7,500 watts
•      Liquid cooled — used by industrial generators above 7,500 watts

Liquid-cooled generators have systems much like an automobile where a stationary radiator is built into the generator framework. A belt-driven fan is used in liquid-cooled generators, where the majority of air-cooled units have a passive heat exchange through radiator fins built into the engine.

Sizing a Rental Generator

The next step, and by far the most important, in selecting a rental generator is determining the size. Considerations should include the voltage selection, wattage needed and phase necessary. All of these will calculate the total power output.

2 Sizing A Rental Generator

Here it’s critical to determine if the generator is going to service the entire facility or only supply power for critical functions. Some of these functions might be:

•      Emergency and safety equipment
•      Lights
•      Computer systems
•      Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAV)
•      Pumps
•      Processing machinery

This can be a complicated undertaking and it’s best to source the help of professionals before renting a large industrial generator. These big-scale operations may be subject to insurance qualifiers, state and local fire and safety regulations and the National Energy Codes (NEC) requirements.

A certified electrician or an electrical engineer should be consulted if there’s any doubt about the electrical load calculations or the manner of installation for a rental generator. In addition, the service department at the generator rental company will be a wealth of knowledge and should be part of the contingency team in preparing for power outages.

Before turning to professionals, it’s wise to make some preliminary calculations for what the electrical load will be in selecting a rental generator.

Determining Electrical Load

In technical terms, there are four methods of determining electrical loads that a rental generator will have to service. Each method takes a different approach but arrives at the roughly the same conclusion.

      Full Load by Capacity Measurement — This takes into account all the electrical requirements needed to be serviced including consumption at peak periods. This is usually far more than what a backup generator would be asked for in a building but is important for stand-alone applications like construction sites and special events.
•      Full Load Capacity by History — This is a handy and quick form of calculation where a generator has been used in similar applications and proved to be adequate or inadequate.
•      Full Load Capacity With Extensive Motor Use — Electrical motors are often the biggest consumers of sudden electrical consumption. They draw considerably more electricity when they start up than when in operation. Failing to account for the number of electric motors and the power draw they require will likely result in too small a unit to serve the job. A rule of thumb is to add 25 percent load capacity for reserve and electric motor surge capacity.
•      Square Footage Measurement — This electrical load calculation is best for passive operations that have consistent electrical requirements. Retail applications like grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants and light commercial applications are free from surge demand or any additional electrical load. A simple formula for load calculation by square footage is 50 kilowatts + five to 10 watts per square foot of serviceable space.

If full power for the facility is required to be maintained at the same capacity as what the electrical utility company provides, it’s necessary to calculate the aggregate load. This is the amount of power that’s consumed during the average peak period where electricity demand is at is greatest in normal operation. There are several ways to assess the aggregate electrical load:

•      Taking ammeter readings from the facility’s electrical distribution boxes at peak periods
•      Using the maximum amperage capacity rating of the electrical boxes
•      Reviewing utility bills and averaging consumption during peak periods

Some caution and sense have to be used in calculating aggregate electrical load, as consumption can significantly vary even at peak periods. The ratings on electrical distribution boxes are the maximum service available and rarely does actual electrical load reach maximum capacity. Additionally, utility bills will be overall averages and not truly representative of aggregate loads at peak times.

Just as estimating peak usage is important in selecting a rental generator, so is taking stock of critical and non-critical electrical loads. It’s important to prioritize what equipment is crucial to keep operating in the event of a power grid interruption. Likely, a good deal of consumption can be limited or shut down when going into an emergency generator backup mode. This planned consumption will limit the size of generator required and therefore the cost.

3 Critical Noncritial Loads

No matter the size or capacity of rental generator needed, know that all electricity can be dangerous and that safety in using a generator must be considered as part of the selection process.

Rental Generator Safety

Rental generators have a number of built-in safety systems and devices from the factory as well as installed by the generator rental company. Here’s what to know, look for and expect when operating a rental generator:

•      Do not overload the generator. Too much load creates strain and can cause the generator to cut out or stop.
•      Review the operating instruction manual thoroughly.
•      Have a skilled technician demonstrate proper and safe operation.
•      Ensure all cables, cords and accessory devices are properly insulated and grounded.
•      Make sure connections have GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interruption) breakers.
•      Make sure the generator’s exhaust is properly ventilated. Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning.
•      Ensure plenty of airflow around the generator.
•      Ensure fuel is properly stored away from the generator,
•      Beware of hot surfaces and protect them from accidental contact.
•      Make sure the generator is stopped and secured before attempts to service.
•      Beware of “back feeding.” This is where excess electricity is produced and sent back into the power company’s grid.

Not only will the power company refuse to pay for the extra electricity, but there are laws against back feeding in most states. The cost of back feeding and disregarding safety procedures with a rental generator can be enormous.

Cost of Renting a Commercial Generator

In rental generators, as in all other machinery, the larger the unit, the greater the rental cost will be. It’s a mistake to source a generator with too big a capacity. The excess power that’s capable of being produced will not be consumed, and the generator rental cost isn’t based on the actual electrical energy produced.

4 The Larger The Unit

Rental generator cost is fixed on the size of the generator, the length of time it’s being rented for and the hours of use as recorded on the generator’s time clock. The longer a generator is out, the longer the hours added to the clock and the bigger the capacity of the generator, the higher the rental bill will be.

This is where teaming with an excellent supplier of rental generators is so important.

Generator Suppliers

The best insurance against an unexpected electrical power interruption is being prepared for it. It’s one thing to anticipate power loss, whether it be from a season change, a storm warning, a planned shut down or taking on a project that requires temporary electrical generation. It’s another thing to have the right size of generator already specified and knowing it’s available at a reputable rental dealer.

Make sure that generator rental dealer is already part of the contingency team long before calling on them to ship an industrial generator to the facility or a commercial generator to the job site. Here are the questions to ask in determining a reputable, dependable and professional industrial generator rental supplier:

•      What are the kilowatt ranges of rental generators you supply?
•      What are the rental rates for the period and hours of operation?
•      Will you help me calculate the right-sized rental generator?
•      Can I reserve a rental generator in advance but not take delivery unless needed?
•      What fuels and containers do you supply?
•      Can you supply an entire generator system including accessories?
•      Do you assist in installation of the generator?
•      What are your delivery times in case of emergency?
•      What technical assistance do you supply?
•      What are the rental generator maintenance requirements?
•      What happens if the rental generator unit fails on site?
•      Do you preapprove credit so a generator will be instantly available if needed?
•      Have you previously supplied a rental generator to a similar industry situation?

If answers to these questions are clearly met, then you’ve found the mark of a professional supplier from which to rent a generator.

Renting Generators From Yancey Power

Yancey Power is a professional supplier of generators for all types of commercial and industrial applications. Customers who need equipment sourced and delivered expediently when the power goes down look to Yancey Power when they need to rent a generator in Georgia.

5 Professional Supplier

Regardless of the type of industry, the size of the company or the scope of work that requires emergency, backup or temporary electricity, Yancey Power keeps a diverse stock of rental generators ranging from small to large.

When checking out generator rentals in Atlanta or throughout the Central Georgia area, know Yancey Power is the local source to trust and rely on. We’re the one-stop shop for emergency generator rentals, providing exceptional product knowledge and attentive customer service to find fast and efficient power system solutions that meet all budget and application requirements.

Turn to Yancey Power when a continuous, reliable source of electrical generation is an operational necessity. Call us today at 877-278-6235 or visit us at one of 16 Yancey Power locations in central Georgia.