Like any business, greenhouses should be completely prepared for any unexpected emergencies, including power outages.
For commercial greenhouses, a power outage is much more than an inconvenience. The unpredictability of a power outage can throw a wrench in greenhouse operations and can lead to significant financial set-backs.
Greenhouse owners can be prepared for power outages with reliable backup power, reducing downtime during a power outage. In this article, we provide the factors and considerations for choosing the right backup generator for your greenhouse.
Why Commercial Greenhouses Need a Reliable Backup Power
Power failures occur from various events, including natural disasters, extreme heat or humidity, blackouts, emergency shutdowns, or even regular maintenance.
With no power, business operations can be significantly affected. With no light control, heat settings, water pumps, and ventilation systems, a lack of power can cause temperatures to rise or drop – particularly during hot summers or cold winters.
Greenhouses need a climate-controlled environment to be successful, and without it, you risk plants starting to die. Salvaging plants can take months and, in some cases, years. The longer your greenhouse remains without power, the more your profit margins are set back.
The Importance of a Backup Generator
When unexpected power failures occur, a backup power generator keeps your commercial greenhouse operating, avoiding the loss of profits. With the right backup generator, you do not lose any downtime, keeping your greenhouse operations efficient, and helping your business’ bottom line.
Choosing the Right Backup Generator
The first step is to buy a backup generator, or replace an old one. There are several considerations that go into choosing the right backup generator for your commercial greenhouse. Here’s what to know.
Choosing By Fuel Type:
Backup generators for commercial greenhouses are divided by two main fuel types: diesel and natural gas. Each fuel type option has pros and cons.
Generally speaking, diesel engines are considered more reliable than natural gas engines, reducing overall maintenance costs.
- Sturdy and long-lasting for sustained performance. They require less maintenance and fewer replacements.
- Ability to function as the primary power source or backup generator.
- Ideal for large-scale greenhouses
- Not eco-friendly: does not meet EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) emission standards.
- They are considered very large and require dedicated space.
- Higher upfront costs.
Natural Gas generators
While natural gas generators are more expensive and may require more maintenance, they offer clear environmental benefits for greenhouses. These units are also more cost-effective and portable.
- More economical to run compared to diesel.
- Eco-friendly: natural gas also burns cleaner than diesel fuel, which is better for greenhouses because of the focus on sustainability.
- The engine is generally quieter.
- Generally require more maintenance.
- They rely on a consistent supply of natural gas, which could be disrupted during emergencies, meaning it is useless to use.
Factors & Considerations:
Here are some important factors to weigh for your commercial greenhouse to help you choose between the two types of generators.
Power output (size) is a primary consideration for greenhouses. Understanding the power requirements of your greenhouse is essential for selecting the right generator for greenhouses.
A common mistake is underestimating load capacity. Using a power calculator can provide an estimate and calculate your operation’s load capacity. Most commercial greenhouses require 480V 3 phase power.
Sizing a backup generator includes the physical dimensions. You must have the space for a generator. Diesel generators are much larger and require more space than natural gas.
Another factor for greenhouses is how much maintenance your generator needs. Regular maintenance is needed to ensure your generator is ready to run in an emergency. However, natural gas generators require more maintenance than diesel.
Some states have sensitive emissions areas where regulations control the amount of emissions released into the environment. Diesel generators are not the most eco-friendly, so consider choosing a generator that meets Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emission standards.
Finally, what’s your budget for a backup generator? Costs of a backup generator throughout the life of the engine:
- Unit Costs: diesel units have a much higher unit cost.
- Fuel Costs: diesel is much more expensive than natural gas.
- Maintenance Costs: natural gas will have higher operating costs and more maintenance required.
- Longevity: the life expectancy of a natural gas engine is not nearly as long as diesel engines.
Closing Out: Choosing The Right Backup Power for Your Commercial Greenhouse
There is no right or wrong answer when choosing between natural gas or diesel backup generation. Use these considerations to evaluate the best backup power generator for your greenhouse.
The Ceres design and engineering team can work with you to choose a backup generator solution that is right for your commercial greenhouse. For more information or to speak to a greenhouse expert about your commercial greenhouse project, contact us today!