Commercial Generators
Commercial Generators

Storms happen, and when the power goes out, your business comes to a screeching halt. Learn how to pick the right commercial generators to keep you powered up.

When a natural disaster strikes, as many as 40% of small businesses won’t manage to reopen their doors. This is partially due to their inability to continue operation.

Their bills are still due, but now they don’t have money coming in to pay them. While some may figure out how to bounce back from bankruptcy, most are forced to close their doors.

You can prevent yourself from having to face this situation altogether. Commercial generators keep businesses running when the power goes out.

Use this guide to buy the right generator for your business.

What Are Your Needs?

Do not fall into the common mistake of underestimating your energy needs. Most people undersize their generator. Just because your generator is a backup power source doesn’t mean it needs to be as powerful as your regular power supply.

When your generator isn’t big enough, you risk damaging both your generator and your equipment. That is going to cost you more to replace all of this equipment.

What Is Your Right Size?

The best thing you can do is consult a professional when it comes to buying a commercial generator large enough to support your business. A company like offers professional advice from their years of experience.

Before your consultation, create a list of all of the equipment that you need to run. Then note each one’s starting and running wattage requirements. This will help you determine your energy requirements.

The Difference Between Starting and Running Wattage

There are two different numbers you need to look for when shopping for generators. Look for the starting and running wattage.

Your equipment requires more power when it is starting up than when it is steadily running. Because of this, you need a generator that is capable of producing the power required for this extra pull.

Look on your current equipment for a metal plate. Manufacturers will affix a metal plate that will give you all of the equipment information. If you can’t find the metal plate, look in the owner’s manual.

If you find the amperage requirements instead of wattage, you can use this too. Use this formula or an online chart to figure out your wattage requirements.

Amps x Volts = Watts

If you want to factor the reactive load:

(Amps x Volts) x Load Factor= Watts

Figuring It Out for Yourself

If you can’t find the metal plate, you aren’t out of luck just yet. There are charts online that can estimate different equipment’s power consumption.

You have a couple of different options when it comes to calculating your overall needs. If you only plan to run one piece of equipment at a time, then you only need each motor’s consumption.

If you plan to run more than one motor at a time, then you need the entire need. Find this out by adding up all of your equipment’s need.

Your final need could be running motors, but none of them are electric.

Benefits of Getting the Size Right

When you size your generator large enough, you have lower repair and maintenance costs long term for both your generator and equipment. You will also have less automatic safety shutdowns. These happen when the generator becomes overwhelmed and turns off to protect the generator from overloading.

Two Types of Generators

There are two types of generators: portable and automatic. The one you choose will depend on how much equipment you need to run.


Automatic generators are larger and wire directly into your system. When the power cuts, your generator will automatically kick on. You may see a dim in the lights, but you’ll be up and running in seconds.


These generators are smaller and require you to hook them up to get them working. You cannot run your entire business or home on one alone. When the power cuts, you will have to get your generator and hook it up to the equipment you wish to run.

Safety Concerns

It isn’t enough to buy the right sized generator. You need to make sure you have the space to place it in a safe location. For instance, it needs to be at least 10 feet from your building.

When your generator is too close to your building, you risk having harmful fumes entering your building. You should also install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in your building for an added level of safety.


Anyone who has ever used a generator knows that they can get loud. Really loud. If this is an issue, you’ll want to look for a model that is on the quieter end of the spectrum. The noise level will also influence where you decide to place it outside.

Automatic generators tend to have quieter running noise than portable ones. They tend to have insulation and quieter running motors. You can also reduce the noise by only running your generator when absolutely necessary.

Fueling Your Generator

Each type of fuel option has pros and cons that you’ll want to consider when choosing your generator. You may find that a dual fuel option is a way to go.


This is the most popular type of fuel for generators. This is because it’s readily available and affordable. The downside is that there are many problems that diesel engines face.


Gasoline is another affordable fuel that is easy to find. The problem is that gasoline is used for everything. In a natural disaster, gasoline tends to be one of those supplies that run out quickly.

This means that you may not be able to get any when you need it most. You also can’t store it for longer periods of time. If you do decide to have a stockpile, you’ll need to rotate it and use the stored gas within a year of buying it.

Plus, let’s not forget that gasoline is highly flammable.

Natural Gas

Your building may already have a natural gas line for running your other equipment. If this is the case, you may want to consider getting a generator that runs on natural gas, too.

A big advantage to this is that you don’t have to deal with large storage tanks. What’s even better is that extreme weather temperatures don’t affect it like it does other fuel sources.


If you are willing to spend a bit more, propane is a good option. It is cleaner burning than gasoline and doesn’t have a shelf life.

The problem comes in with the increased cost of buying and storing the propane. There is also the problem that propane tanks use more fuel to run at the same rate as their gasoline counterparts.


If you intend to use your generator all of the time, you may find that dual fuel option is ideal. By using two different types of fuel, you can reduce costs and ensure that you don’t run out of fuel.

Single or Three Phase

There are two different methods of producing power. The first method is similar to how electricity works in your home. This is a single phase process.

The electricity flows like a wave, going from peak to zero. If you have a smaller business or aren’t running a lot of equipment and machinery, then single phase will work fine for your needs.

If you have industrial demands than you will want a generator that uses a three-phase system. With this type, it’s three single waves operating together.

Each wave is slightly out of sync with the other two. This way there is always a wave that is in peak. What this does is create a consistent flow of power at a constant level.

If you followed out advice on calculating your energy needs, then it should be an easy decision on which phases system is right for your business.

Proper Use

If you decide to purchase an automatic generator, then you should have a professional electrician install it. They will know your local building codes and any restrictions.

If your automatic generator is not installed correctly, you risk starting a fire.


While all of the factors that we have discussed so far are important, the one most limiting is your budget. Keep in mind that you want to buy the biggest generator that you can comfortably afford.

Buy one too big and you’ve wasted money on an ability you will never use. Buy one too small, and you’ll spend more money replacing equipment you’ve damaged.

Compare Commercial Generators

When shopping for commercial generators, you need to start by knowing what your needs are. This can help you narrow down your options.

Once you know your needs, you should determine what kind of fuel is going to work best for you. Aim to buy a generator that can easily handle your equipment’s startup and running demand while still being affordable to run.

Now that you know how to get the right generator be sure to check out our guide for getting the right HVAC system for your business.