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Does Your Business Need a Backup Generator?

Power outages are a part of life. Whether it’s caused by severe weather, a car crashing into a utility pole or an animal interfering with a transformer, there’s not much you can do to prevent a sudden loss of electricity.

When you lose power at home, it’s an inconvenience. But losing power at your business means there’s more at stake. And it’s often small- to medium-sized businesses that suffer most.

If you own a restaurant, your frozen and refrigerated food could start to go bad. And if you run a retail or service business, you could end up closing for the day (or more).

Related: What Is Business Interruption Coverage, and Why Might I Need It?

Situations like these underscore why you may want to consider purchasing a backup generator for your business. They can help minimize your downtime, reduce damage caused by heat or freezing temperatures and save your products from spoiling.

How to choose the right generator

When it comes to generators, every business will have different needs. So, how can you find the solution that’s right for you?

Related: Could Your Business Weather a Natural Disaster?

Before purchasing, you’ll need to consider how often your business loses power and the potential sources of the outages. This will help you decide what type to buy.

  • Portable generators are a good choice for small- to mid-sized businesses, and those in remote locations. They can usually run for up to eight hours, but require supervision during use. They must run outside because they’re fueled by gasoline.

  • Permanent generators are targeted toward larger businesses and are the best choice for protection during long power outages. They can run for days, but cannot be moved and must be anchored on a concrete slab. Minimal supervision is required because natural gas is used to fuel them.

Once you make a decision between portable and permanent, you can choose your generator size. First, determine what equipment you’ll need to power in the event of an outage. Then, talk to a generator installer or sales representative to make sure you’ll have the capacity to power it.

Safety tips to consider

Once you have a backup generator in place, you can keep your business up and running — even when the power’s down. Just be sure to follow these safety tips:

  1. Keep the area around the generator clear. Backup generators give off a lot of heat. You can help prevent a fire by keeping items far away from it.

  2. Check the ventilation. It may help you to leave this to the pros during installation. If your generator doesn’t have enough room to properly ventilate, carbon monoxide can build up and quickly become a serious concern. For safety, consider investing in a carbon monoxide detector, too.

  3. Keep it dry. Wet conditions can lead to short circuits — and that could lead to a generator fire. An open-canopy structure can help protect it if you’re worried about water.

  4. Have a fire extinguisher close by. Want a refresher on what to buy and how to use it? Read our ultimate guide to fire extinguishers.

  5. Corral the cords. Cords should be out of any foot paths, yet still easy to access. You’ll want to check them regularly to see if they’re frayed or cut — both types of damage could cause a fire.

  6. Avoid wall outlets. Plugging a generator into a wall outlet can put you and your utility workers at serious risk from back feeding (when energy flows in the opposite direction it normally does). Consider using a manual transfer switch instead and consult with a licensed electrician to make sure your equipment is set up as safely as possible.

  7. Keep yourself protected. Backup generators heat up fast. Avoid burns by putting on protective gear before touching your backup generator. Hearing protection is also a good idea when working near a noisy generator.

We can help you think ahead

Business Insurance is one more way to maintain the rhythm of your business today for the uncertainties of tomorrow. It’s why we offer coverage specialized to you, like our restaurant insurance .

And with our risk control tools and services, you can always stay a step ahead of common business risks.

When you’re with ERIE, your local agent is with you for the journey – from quote time to claim time and everything in between. Contact your local Erie Insurance agent for a coverage review.

ERIE® insurance products and services are provided by one or more of the following insurers: Erie Insurance Exchange, Erie Insurance Company, Erie Insurance Property & Casualty Company, Flagship City Insurance Company and Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home offices: Erie, Pennsylvania) or Erie Insurance Company of New York (home office: Rochester, New York).  The companies within the Erie Insurance Group are not licensed to operate in all states. Refer to the company licensure and states of operation information.

The insurance products and rates, if applicable, described in this blog are in effect as of July 2022 and may be changed at any time. 

Insurance products are subject to terms, conditions and exclusions not described in this blog. The policy contains the specific details of the coverages, terms, conditions and exclusions. 

The insurance products and services described in this blog are not offered in all states.  ERIE life insurance and annuity products are not available in New York.  ERIE Medicare supplement products are not available in the District of Columbia or New York.  ERIE long term care products are not available in the District of Columbia and New York. 

Eligibility will be determined at the time of application based upon applicable underwriting guidelines and rules in effect at that time.

Your ERIE agent can offer you practical guidance and answer questions you may have before you buy.