Commercial Backup Generator Buying and Installation Tips

Commercial generator installation is a must for buildings and businesses nowadays due to unexpected power outages. In the U.S., electric consumers experienced no power for about four hours in 2016.

Electricity service interruptions happen due to various causes, such as bad weather or major events like floods or hurricanes.

With no power, you’re most likely to close or suspend your operations. You will miss out on serving clients, losing much-needed sales in the process. Thus, it’s better to install a commercial generator. It can keep your business running while waiting for the power to come back.

Additionally, several commercial buildings and enterprises need to run 24-7. Thus, the need to install a commercial backup generator to continue its operations. Hospitals, logistics, back-office support, hotels, and many other buildings will need a commercial generator on standby.

With that, how do you know which generator to buy and install for a commercial building? Keep in mind some of these factors when choosing.

Consider These When Buying a Commercial Backup Generator

Before you purchase a commercial backup generator, you have to choose and compare available equipment from vendors. The price of a commercial generator alone is not the sole factor to consider. Here are a few of what you also need to look into:


Commercial generators range from 20 kW up to 2500 kW, depending on the requirements of the property. You have to identify first how much power you will need to operate. For retail, you will need around 50 kW and add 10 watts per square foot. Commercial facilities require at least 50 kW and another 5 watts per square foot.

Then, to maximize the generator for commercial applications, know its surge capability. You can do this by determining both the energy needed to turn on and run the equipment connected to the generator. Additionally, the load factor will also depend on the peak demand for your electrical devices.


There are different types of fuel for a commercial generator. The most common is diesel generators. Alternatively, other commercial generators also have natural gas, propane, or petroleum as their fuel source.

Each generator can only run on one type of fuel. Thus, you need to ensure that you have access to the specific fuel for the generator you’ll be using. Factor in how much it will cost and which fuel type is more likely to provide adequate power coverage.

Cooling system

The cooling system is another feature you have to know about a commercial generator. As generators operate through extended periods, generators tend to heat up, which is a safety concern. There are two types of cooling systems: the air-cooled and the liquid-cooled generator.

An air-cooled generator is a less expensive option as it’s a much simpler system. It generates air to cool down a commercial generator. Air-cooled generators have a wide range of use, and they’re the ones that produce more noise when running. The liquid-cooled generator, on the other hand, has a more robust cooling system that operates quietly. This type of generator is more effective and, thus, more expensive.


Some reliable commercial generator manufacturers include Caterpillar, Kohler, Cummins, Generac, and many others. When choosing which brand, you need to know how reliable the manufacturer is in building and servicing generators.

Each generator brand can have different equipment and units available that will fit your specific commercial operation. Match your required generator size, fuel, and cooling system against the ones available from the brand. This way, you will already narrow down your choices.

Consult with a certified electrician who can best advise which adequate commercial generator your business will need. They will make sure that the generator you’ll be choosing can sufficiently meet the demand of your commercial property.

How Much Does It Cost To Install a Commercial Generator?

Commercial generator installers have different service fees that they will charge for the installation. You have to compare which among them is the most suitable and reasonable enough to pay.

Installers may already include the generator price and the installation cost. Small businesses begin at around $3,000. The price will reach $10,000 to $25,000 for mid-size equipment such as HVAC, security systems, and workplace computers. And to fully power a warehouse, the generator installation can cost up to $125,000.

Their service cost will vary depending on the complexity of your commercial building. The contractor will factor in the local climate or retrofitting requirements of your facility. Instead of choosing the lowest bid, it’s best to invest in a reliable electrical contractor. They’ll know how to install the commercial generator properly.

How Long Does It Take To Install a Commercial Generator?

Installing a commercial generator will depend on the electrical systems and size of your property. A licensed electrician can take around 6-8 weeks of commercial generator installation.

The electrical contractor will assess first the energy requirements of your business. After which, the qualified contractor can recommend the right commercial generator and power backup system suitable for your needs. They will ensure that your commercial generator will have safe gas hookups and power distribution to the various devices in your building.

Most qualified electrical contractors follow a standard procedure when installing a commercial generator. Ask the prospective electrician what tasks they need to do to install. Also, a faster installation may not guarantee quality service. It could mean they’re cutting on unsafe and improper practices to get the job done.

Commercial Generator Installation Requirements

To install a commercial generator, you will need the generator equipment, a local permit, and a contractor to conduct the installation. These are the details for each of these requirements.

1. The right commercial generator.

Choose the right generator that will serve the needs of your commercial property. Look into the size, suitable fuel, cooling system, and brand before buying them.

Identify the energy requirement of your property to choose the right generator size. The cooling system will also make your generator work longer. Prioritize either the efficiency, cost, or noise reduction of the generator. And, to make sure that the generator has stored enough power, you will need to check if you’re choosing the right fuel for your generator.

2. Local permit.

There are also permits that you need to secure before installing a commercial generator. Depending on the state or local policies, the NFPA 37 is one of the standard permits to process for commercial generator installation.

Installing a commercial generator will have to follow the NFPA 37 guidelines. Along with the NFPA 37, your local area may require other permits. These documents ensure that you can run the generator properly. It also secures your property for a safer commercial generator installation.

3. A reliable contractor.

You will need a skilled contractor to install a commercial generator. Choose a competent electrical contractor to install and connect your existing electrical system to the backup generator.

With a qualified electrician, you will have a better choice of which commercial generator to install. They will do an energy audit of your property and recommend which size, cooling system, fuel, and generator brand to buy. Additionally, the electrical contractor will also assist you in securing permits to install a commercial generator. They know the local ordinances and can process them on your behalf.

All in all, having a reliable contractor for commercial generator installation ensures your property will have adequate power backup. Even after the commercial generator installation, the contractor can also provide you with maintenance and repair services.

If you’re looking for commercial generator installers in Minnesota, network firms such as Power Partner MN can help you connect to a qualified electrician.

The electrical contractors from Power Partner MN go through proper training and have adequate experience in commercial generator installation. Some of the clients that Power Partner MN contractors handle are in power-intensive operations. Their skills and expertise will help you in installing a backup generator for your commercial building.

You won’t have to worry about operating your equipment when there’s a power interruption. A certified contractor from Power Partner MN can audit your building’s energy requirements, design an electrical backup system, recommend a generator, and even provide ongoing electrical services.