Standby generator – how important is it for the hotel industry

With Britain’s power supply industry in disarray, the possibility of brownouts and blackouts this coming winter is high. The problem is here to stay too, because new infrastructure takes years to build. At the same time, the UK has an ageing Grid and local power failures are common, while hotels have plenty of complex wiring to go wrong. For any hospitality business, power failures are devastating. When that day comes, belatedly searching for a “generator hire near me” is no substitute for a professional action plan and a reactive approach won’t placate HSE either.

Some of our best hotels are in beautiful rural areas where, unfortunately, they are exposed to storm damage that can take engineers days or weeks to repair. Many of our urban hotels are high rise – which exposes the occupants to additional risks such as lift failures and fire hazards. Hotels with popular restaurants have a big investment in the contents of their freezers and those with conference facilities are expected to provide superlative internet access. No matter how your hospitality enterprise works, a power failure is always devastating in this industry.

Statutory obligations

The HSE view is that lightning strikes and deluges are foreseeable events, not Acts of God, and you are expected to plan for them. As you know, there are many regulations specific to freezer temperatures and any lifts in which occupants could be trapped. No commercial venue is allowed to have emergency alarms and exit signage that won’t function in an emergency and it isn’t hard to understand why – fires frequently cause power outages.

For both statutory and practical reasons, you need to understand the difference between “emergency” power and “standby” power. Emergency power should cut-in within 10 seconds of a mains failure in order to illuminate exit signs, maintain the fire alarms and provide emergency lighting. Emergency power systems use their own wiring – independent of your main circuits. Most emergency power supplies only last long enough for a safe evacuation so they are usually battery powered. Lifts often use a flywheel to store enough energy to reach a floor and open the doors.

In contrast, standby power is usually provided by a generator and cuts in to replace some or all of your normal power applications such as heating, ventilation and communications, and it can share your existing circuits and panels to do so. Standby power may take a minute to cut in or it can be designed to cut in within milliseconds, depending on your requirements.

Unlike emergency systems, standby power is usually optional from the building regulations point of view, but it is critical for your business. How long will your guests endure a lack of lighting, heating or hot water? How long can you safely store food? Can your administrators process payments and bookings or make phone calls to travelling clients? Does your water supply or sanitation depend on a pump?

Have an emergency action plan

Hospitals have fall-back generators capable of keeping almost everything working for an extended period of time. That is economically unrealistic for most hotels, so you should begin by listing your priorities. By keeping vital appliances on different circuits from less vital ones, you can minimise your standby power requirements. Your priorities will almost certainly be heating and ventilation, guestroom lighting, communications and network access, refrigeration, cooking and hot water. Also check whether your water supplies or sewerage depend on pumps and whether you have electromagnetic locks on any fire exits or gates.

Your power failure action plan should also specify where you will store torches, batteries and phone numbers for your staff and the procedures you want them to perform, such as switching off unnecessary devices, taking steps to protect frozen foodstuffs and reassuring the guests. All these details must be covered in a staff training schedule, together with the operation of your reserve power systems.

Generator hire near me

Googling ‘generator hire near me‘ is actually the last thing we want you to do. Instead, make sure the number of your generator supplier is already at the top of your emergency phone number list. There is an affordable generator (usually diesel, biodiesel or natural gas powered) to suit every hotel, restaurant and hospitality business, no matter how large or small your premises may be.

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