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One of the earliest and hardest lessons learned in the temporary generator power industry is the impact of generator failures. It could be a jobsite where 100 workers need power for lights, welding equipment, elevators, air movement, etc. The cost of downtime to that job could be thousands of dollars per hour in wages and it puts the job behind schedule effecting the job Bond, subcontractors have to rearrange their schedules with other projects to finish this one, etc.
Maybe it’s a simple backyard wedding your providing temporary power and electrical distribution… if you opt for only one generator and it clogs a filter or has a minor engine failure that shuts it down to protect itself…. What does that mean to the bride and groom? If it’s dark out… the event is over and your generator supplier should be held accountable if they did not properly present options to you to prevent this from happening in the interest of saving a few dollars.
Option 1) Where it is deemed necessary, at a minimum, a second generator incorporating an Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS) to take over if the primary generator fails. There may be a 2 to 10 second transfer time between generators (the time it takes for the transfer switch to changeover) but you will not lose the whole job or event. This is the most dollar economical solution. We stock these items.
Option 2) Redundant, seamless, generator power. This would involve two specific generators that can parallel together and share the electrical load they are serving. If one unit fails, the other keeps running assuming all of the load without any switchover time or “glitch” and the event goes on without the customer noticing anything.
We at American Power Rental have multiple options often referred to under different requests including seamless, redundant, parallelable, twin pack, dual redundant, Automatic Transfer Switches (ATS’s), golf pack, twin 300kW, twin 400kW and twin Crawfords. The list goes on and on as to how different people refers to them.
There are plenty of applications where one generator is fine and safely fulfills the needs of the project. Some examples of that would be non-critical standby applications where the generator is backing up a utility source of power or, the contractor is tight on space and understands the risk of some downtime and it will not effect the job workflow (or event) for an hour or so where another unit can be brought in to swap out the down unit.
This is a tough subject to talk about as it may present a perception that generators fail… Well, that is partly true. We can service them and check everything every day but mechanical failures can happen beyond our control. That is why most airplanes and jets have two engines. Unexpected things can happen. We plan for it.
It is our responsibility to educate our customers on the best options available and when this should be considered. There are occasions where we at American Power Rental will not sacrifice the job over price and send a single unit just to keep cost down. We will do everything we can to make redundancy an affordable option in the best interest in our customers and the continued success of our business.