In any news story about extreme weather, close to the beginning—if not in the headline itself—will be the number of homes and businesses left without power.
Power outages are an inevitable and frustrating side-effect of storm and bushfire season. If your business, like most, is dependent on mains power to operate, then an outage means you will be facing costly downtime, potentially for days.
Even more concerning is the impact on critical facilities, including hospitals, aged-care centres, airports, water treatment plants and emergency services. Make no mistake—power outages are inconvenient, uncomfortable, expensive and, sometimes, downright catastrophic.
A back-up plan
With the knowledge that your business may be facing power outages in the coming months, it could pay to consider investing in a back-up power plan. The most important part of that plan involves purchasing or maintaining a standby generator.
Having the proper equipment in place and ensuring it is functioning and regularly serviced will mitigate any risks associated with power failure, keeping you fully operational and your employees safe and productive.
If you want your business to operate with as little interruption as possible during a blackout, choose an auto-start equipped generator and pair it with an automatic transfer switch (ATS), connected into mains power. An ATS facilitates management between your generator supply and mains supply to automatically start and stop the generator when power is lost or restored. Always opt for quality—the cheapest unit could be a false economy and not provide the reliable power you are aiming for.
Keeping on top of your back-up
If your business already has a back-up generator, your facility manager needs to make sure it is getting regularly serviced according to the manufacturer and distributor’s recommendations. Having the generator serviced regularly will deter many of the potential problems that can occur, particularly when an outage is imminent. Service schedules may include routine inspections of your consumables and components through to more rigorous annual or semi-annual preventative maintenance of systems throughout the generator.
It is also recommended that generators go through annual load bank testing if the unit does not run at 50 per cent or greater load at least one hour monthly. Load bank testing will eliminate glazing by burning off unburnt fuel, oil and carbon in the cylinders and exhaust system. It also will exercise and test the unit’s fuel and cooling systems and evaporate moisture from inside the generator and engine.
Whether it is a diesel or gas generator, make sure you have adequate fuel and the gas line is working properly. Additionally, regularly test and make sure the automatic transfer switch is functioning correctly. Doing a thorough check of your entire back-up system will ensure your generator will kick in the moment utility power goes down.
CAPS Power Generation Product Manager, Mike Brophy, says, “CAPS can provide advice on how to select the right generator for your business and your local electricians can connect the generator and transfer switch to your power system. Kohler generators are widely used in high-rise commercial buildings, airports, water authorities, data centres and RSL clubs to mention a few.”
“CAPS also have a specialist generator service team able to service any make or model generator. When it comes to servicing, generators are complex pieces of machinery – you want to make sure that you have a highly skilled service partner who can tailor a solution that fits your business.”
CAPS is the Australian master distributor for Kohler generators, made in France to the highest standards with a solid reputation in Australia as a dependable mains back-up generator. Kohler generators start at 16kVA and are available in sizes up to 3500kVA (4200Kva in 2019).
CAPS have nine branches throughout the country to provide sales, 24/7 service support and spare parts.
For further information, call your local CAPS office on 1800 960 094 or visit caps.com.au/backup
Lauren ‘LJ’ Butler is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and has been part of the team at Monkey Media since 2018.
After completing a Bachelor of Media, Communications and Professional Writing at the University of Wollongong in 2014, and prior to writing about the utility sector, LJ worked as a Journalist and Sub Editor across the horticulture, hardware, power equipment, construction and accommodation industries with publishers such as Glenvale Publications, Multimedia Publishing and Bean Media Group.