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How Much Does a Commercial Generator Typically Cost?

As utility grid infrastructure ages around the world and systems are damaged by increasingly severe weather events, purchasing a commercial generator for your business becomes more critical with each passing year. If you are researching backup power as part of your disaster preparedness and recovery plan, this guide can help you determine if this is the year you install a commercial generator onsite.

Generator Cost

Depending on the power requirements of your business, a commercial power generator can cost anywhere between ten thousand and half-a-million US dollars for a 1-Megawatt container trailer. Smaller, portable systems are even cheaper but might require manual startup and constant refueling, which could be difficult if the area is under an evacuation order and no responsible parties are available to perform these tasks. This cost may not include installation or site costs; however, a reputable company like Welland Power can provide a comprehensive quote including engineering and installation services.

Determine what systems and equipment are critical in the event of a disaster, and consider how much power might be required for restoration in the aftermath. These factors will help determine your power requirements and the size of the generator(s) needed. Your site layout may require multiple generators of varying sizes at strategic locations, and different buildings may have different power needs. Think about areas that may require operation of sump pumps or other storm-related equipment in addition to routine operations.

Site Costs

Stationary commercial generators will need to be placed on a level pad at an elevation above potential flash floods or storm surges. This location will ideally be sheltered from flying debris and potential wind damage. Additionally, it will need to be tied into your building’s energy network by professionals. When determining the appropriate site, take fuel deliveries and storage into consideration to ensure plenty of clearance on all sides for maintenance access.

If you have a large complex with multiple buildings, you may need to install multiple generators to accommodate the necessary electrical capacity and reduce transmission loss or potentially damaged lines between the generator and load location. Some contractors estimate generator installation costs between $300–$550 per kilowatt hour required, but this figure can vary for remote, hard-to-reach locations.

Maintenance and Fuel

Every mechanical system installed at your business needs annual maintenance for optimal performance, and a generator is no different. Regular testing should be performed to ensure the system is ready for the next power outage. When considering the overall system cost, don’t forget to include estimates for fuel use, including the cost of onsite fuel storage.

Look at the pricing differences for various types of fuel such as diesel, propane, and CNG and discuss concerns with your installation representative. Get a referral for a local repair company in the even severe weather damages the unit and discuss what commonly needed parts or components can be kept onsite to expedite repairs. Factor these potential costs as well as warranty options into your site evaluation so all potential expenses are included in your plan.

Government Assistance

In some countries, there may be disaster management and preparation funds available to assist your business with a backup power installation. Check with local tax professionals for any potential tax credits and contact your insurer to determine if any savings can be applied to the premium. 

If your business is in a US Territory prone to hurricane or tornado damage, making your generator installation part of a hazard mitigation plan could qualify your project for various types of grants or subsidies. Other governments in areas prone to severe weather may have similar programs, so research requirements for storm readiness campaigns and building upgrades while looking at backup power systems.