Standby Power Supply: Is a Generator or a UPS right for Your Building?

If your building requires emergency power supply, a standby generator could be the answer. Or perhaps an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is the solution. Or maybe you need both.

When shopping for emergency power supply systems (EPSS), building owners face several options, such as whether to implement a standby generator, one or more UPS units, or both. Below are considerations for deciding which option is best for your building.

Emergency Power Needs

As you evaluate standby power supply options, the first question to ask is: does your building need automatic transition from utility feed to generator feed, or must the electricity remain completely uninterrupted? In the second case, one or more UPS units can be implemented in addition to, or in place of a generator. Conversely, if your building needs instantaneous transition, but not necessarily uninterruptible electricity, a generator alone may be the answer.

Length of Support

A standard UPS unit provides roughly fifteen minutes of power, although larger units that power a whole building for hours are also available. In most cases, however, these units are insensible and uneconomical for commercial building owners. When extended power is needed, a diesel generator is the usual choice. With sufficient fuel on sight, and especially when a generator features a Bi-Fuel system, it can support a facility for hours.

Building Space

Most commercial generators require their own space, either in a specially constructed room or along a building’s exterior perimeter. For offices that occupy space in a high rise, having a generator is usually out of the question. If the high rise does not contain its own generator, implementing one or more UPS units is the easiest solution. Many offices simply require fifteen minutes to shut down computers when a power outage occurs, and a standard UPS allows them to do this.

Cost Factors

Implementing one or more UPS units can cost significantly less than implementing a commercial generator. In addition to costing less to purchase and install, UPS units eliminate the fuel and fuel delivery costs that come with diesel generators. For most facilities, the decision to implement a standby generator, one or more UPS units, or both is need based. For facilities that can choose, implementing UPS units can offer the most economy.


Often discussed in terms of generators, the standby power supply process has a need for UPS units too. When a facility implements both types of equipment, it ensures that electricity is uninterruptible and that emergency power will last for hours. Although one solution or the other may be ideal for some buildings, many buildings require both.

Prime Power has Services You Need

At Prime Power, we install and service emergency power equipment, including generators and UPS units. We also offer infrared testing, generator rentals, modernization and retrofits, healthcare utility management, load bank testing, scheduled maintenance, breaker testing, and new installations.

Implementing an EPSS is a major decision that requires planning and consideration. To discuss an analysis of your building’s emergency power needs, or to learn about any of the services above, call us today.

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