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Currently, Ontario experiences more power outages than any other location in Canada. The number and frequency of critical power outages in Ontario increases every year. Factors such as an aging power grid, increased demands in very warm or very hot weather and severe storms caused by climate change increasingly come into play.

Whether you lose power due to a thunderstorm or a blizzard, the disruption can seriously affect your household or your business. An extended home outage can mean replacing almost everything in your fridge or freezer, which can run into hundreds of dollars. A power outage in a retail, research or hospital setting can result in major financial losses and even loss of life. That’s why it makes sense to have a residential standby generator for your home or a commercial generator for your business or office.

What Is a Residential Standby Generator?

Residential generators come in basically two styles. 

The first is a portable generator, which is usually gas-powered and designed for less demanding power needs. 

The second is a standby generator located outside your home, such as an HVAC unit. These units typically operate by a trigger switch connected to a natural gas line to ensure a steady fuel stream.

Residential generators also come in different sizes depending upon your power needs. Smaller units provide power for critical functions in your home, like your refrigerator, lights, furnace, air conditioning and sump pump. Larger units, known as Managed Whole Home Installations, provide power for multiple appliances with high energy demands and other systems in your home. A managed whole installation provides enough energy that you might not notice an outage in your community.

Residential generators operate on various fuel sources, including natural gas, diesel, propane and gasoline. Most experts recommend using natural gas if possible because it’s more economical, it’s better for the environment and it doesn’t grow stale like unused gasoline. It’s essential to provide regular maintenance for residential generators, including running them every couple of months to ensure they’re in working order.

What Is a Commercial Generator?

Closing your store because you have no power means no customers. An electrical outage can lead to severe financial losses for any business or office. If your business relies on computers or other kind of technology, downtime means lost productivity. If you operate a research business, it can result in the loss of thousands or millions of dollars in lost specimens or experiments. An outage at a medical clinic can have serious consequences for patients. Yet many businesses make the mistake of thinking that to save money, they can get away with using a residential generator in a commercial setting.

Don’t make this mistake! It pays to work with an expert to help you find the right size commercial generator for your business. Commercial standby generators kick in when an outage begins, providing your operation with the power needed to continue operations. Natural gas, propane or diesel provide fuel for most commercial generators. Commercial generators require regular maintenance. The better it’s maintained, the longer the generator will remain in operation. Experts recommend performing regular maintenance every three months.

What Are the Main Differences Between a Home and Commercial Generator?

The most apparent difference between residential and commercial generators is size. Home generators that sit outside like an HVAC unit are larger than portable generators. (You might see a portable generator powering a BBQ at a tailgating event, in a food truck or used by a merchant at a farmers market on the weekend.)

Commercial generators are much larger, constructed with sturdier equipment and typically reside in a fixed location outside a facility on a concrete slab. Perhaps surprisingly, they’re quieter than many residential generators since they’re constructed with materials that reduce vibrations and noise. While you’d no doubt be glad to have power during an outage, if you had to work in an office or deal with patients in a medical clinic with a loud generator in the background, it wouldn’t be a pleasant experience.

How Much Do Power Outages Cost in Ontario?

On average, businesses face more than CA$12 billion in related costs when it comes to critical outages. While the numbers for business power outages are readily available, there are also significant costs related to residential outages. Numerous households face millions in outage-related costs, including spoiled food and emergency supplies like firewood and flashlights. In many cases, families must find alternative nightly accommodations and pay for mold removal, especially if there’s flooding.

For instance, a recent power outage in the Ottawa region during the long weekend in May 2022 lasted several days. It resulted in millions of dollars of losses in both residential and business settings, and the city of Ottawa spent almost $2 million to help residents who had no food.

Things to Look for When Selecting a Generator

When you’re deciding which residential or commercial generator to purchase for your home, an office building or other commercial, medical or retail location, some factors to consider include:

  • Run time
  • Noise level
  • Location, either inside or outside your business
  • Price

Portable Generator or Standby Generator

Portable generators are easy to operate. You can also use them outside the house for camping, tailgating or a food truck. However, they’re noisy and most often operate on gasoline. So depending on your tank size and how much of a gasoline supply you have, your ability to provide electricity in an outage can be limited.

Whether residential or commercial, standby generators are fixed and often operate using natural gas or diesel as a fuel supply. When you suffer an outage, the trigger switch lets the generator know there’s a need for power, whether for the whole house or business or the most crucial appliances.

Determine Your Power Needs

What you’ll need to run a few essential appliances in your home differs from what you’ll need to operate your business. Determine your power needs and seek the best generator to fulfill that need.

Consider Your Fuel Type

Whether using gasoline for a portable unit or diesel, natural gas or propane for a commercial generator, there are pluses and minuses. It pays to consult with an expert to determine what will be the best fuel type for you for use with a generator.

Platinum Electrical Contractors Recommends Generac Generators

We recommend Generac Generators for any home or business in the Toronto area. We have generators available to provide your backup power needs, from 15 KW to 1000 KW. We offer scheduled maintenance, as well as service and repairs. Our experts will be happy to discuss your generator power needs with you anytime. You can reach us at 844-443-6776 for a free consultation or get a quote online.

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