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Keeping the Lights on When Mother Nature Hits
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By Eric Johnston

This past winter, the entire country was battered with snowstorms and ice storms, forcing closures to everything from schools and businesses to supermarkets and clinics. Small businesses were especially affected, closing doors due to a lack of power and energy – despite their customers’ dire need for cash, food and other supplies.

Unfortunately, winter may be passing but another extremely hot and sizzling summer is just around the corner. And many small business owners will lose revenue, profits and even customers from the ensuing power outages likely to occur.

Small businesses all across the country are not immune to Mother Nature, nor the effects of a significantly weakened power grid. With no means of business continuity when the power goes out, every owner faces the realistic possibility of significant revenue loss when a blackout occurs and the doors remain closed for any length of time. It’s simple in today’s global economy: If your customer can’t do business with you, they will find someone else.

For a small business owner, being prepared means ensuring a constant and uninterruptible source of power to remain up and running. Although we will always have to “batten down the hatches” and evacuate until threatening weather passes, small businesses must be able to withstand a loss of electricity for an extended period of time to ensure everything from financial records safety and data security to customer satisfaction and operational growth.

Small business owners have a couple of options to help keep the lights on and the customers happy during a brief “brownout” or even an extended power outage. And throughout the country, where it’s tremendously cold in the winter and sizzling hot in the summer, it’s good to know about both and have a backup strategy in place since the power grid is under constant strain.

The first option is called an Uninterruptible Power Supply, or a “UPS,” which is a short-term battery power backup to keep your computers or small servers up and running while power is being restored. UPS units also protect your computer from power surges that otherwise might seriously damage or destroy your data. Dependable UPS products start at approximately $100 and generally include features such as auto voltage regulation, digitalized microprocessor control, energy saving- and cold-start functions, lightning and surge protection, short circuit and overload protection, and advanced battery management technology.

Other memory and storage peripherals include flash memory, media drives, DDR and SDRAM memory, and mini hard drives.

In addition to UPS and other memory peripherals, small businesses are now opting for back-up generators that can withstand power loss for hours – even days on end.

In general, you should equip your business with a generator that is between 30- and 60-kW in power capacity. This level of power output is generally what is needed for a small business to run basic functions, including computers, back office, lighting, etc. Generators of this size range anywhere from $15,000 to $40,000, not including accessories such as fuel tanks and transfer switches.

What’s more, some owners are investing in mobile generator units, which are perfect in size and offer versatility since they can be transported to various locations. And because they are mobile, you can save money on pouring a slab for permanent install and there is no permitting needed.

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Eric Johnston is the CEO of Americas Generator.
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