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Improving Disaster Preparedness with Emergency Genset

Natural disasters such as hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes, blizzards, and forest fires pose an extreme threat to life and property. The destruction of electrical infrastructure is one of the most prominent outcomes of natural disasters due to its relative fragility (e.g., knocking out a transformer station or severing a cable and thousands of people can be affected). It can also threaten human life through the following:

  • Loss of power for life-saving equipment at medical and care facilities

  • Incapacitation of water treatment plants and pumps

  • Downed communication networks

  • Failure of important HVAC systems

  • Loss of refrigeration capacity for food supplies

  • Absence of consistent lighting for large-scale search and rescue operations

The loss of electricity can create significant hardship and increase the chances of illness or death. With natural disasters increasing in both number and severity in the US and worldwide, disaster preparedness must be a critical concern for policymakers, relevant safety authorities, and affected business owners. In this blog, we’ll look at the primary method for ensuring a safe electrical supply during a natural disaster: the emergency genset.

How an Emergency Genset Works

Emergency gensets work by rapidly starting power production and handling loads when the system detects a loss of power. The usual time it takes for an emergency genset to kick in can be between 30 seconds and two minutes, but some critical loads supporting life safety, such as in hospitals, are mandated by NFPA 110 to start in 10 seconds or less. The power supplied by an emergency genset is created by an internal combustion engine, the most common of which is fueled by diesel. However, gas (natural gas or propane) or bi-fuel generators are also used.

An emergency electrical switchboard will be responsible for power distribution from the standby power source, i.e., the emergency genset. The emergency switchboard should be isolated from the normal power supply so it is not affected by short circuits or other issues (such as overheating or fire) that may occur during a natural disaster. NFPA 70 gives greater detail on the design and installation of emergency switchboards.

In addition to emergency gensets, large portable generators may also be brought in by response teams to power operations, recovery shelters or re-electrify a local grid.

Improving Disaster Preparedness with an Emergency Genset

There’s no hard and fast way of knowing when, where, or at what magnitude natural disasters will strike, though some regions are more prone to certain weather events than others. Simply put, nowhere in the US is guaranteed safety from electrical supply disruption. Installing an emergency genset is a mandatory requirement in certain fields where it carries a risk to life (medical facilities and water treatment plants) and an advised one in many other industries.

The damage to stock and equipment that can occur when mains power fails can lead to huge losses in industrial and retail settings. For residential environments, the failure of HVAC systems during a natural disaster can create extreme discomfort and, in the case of blizzards or extreme heat waves, even pose a threat to life.

Emergency gensets give municipal authorities, businesses, and residential premises the capacity to deal with the loss of mains power. A standby generator and fuel storage can provide power for days or weeks in areas where electrical infrastructure has been disrupted, meaning people can continue to perform the tasks and have the warmth, light, food, and water needed to survive a natural disaster.

Enercon created 32 units to help after Fukushima disaster 2011

Considerations for Emergency Gensets

Size and Redundancy: Before installing an emergency genset system, it’s important to identify the size of the generator capacity for your needs. Redundancy should also be considered in cases of critical loads (hospitals, prisons, water treatment plants).

Integration and Fuel Storage: Your existing electrical equipment, such as control panels and switchboards, must be properly adjusted to integrate the emergency genset and its starters and switchboard. The location and maintenance of the generator’s fuel storage are also important design considerations.

Testing: All emergency gensets should have a regular testing schedule to ensure they can operate at their rated limits. Testing should include start-up times, power generated, and training staff on ignition and shutdown procedures.

Regular Maintenance: Allied with a regular testing schedule is a maintenance plan for the generator and associated equipment. While most generators and their components are rated for long life, extreme conditions can exacerbate small problems. Regular maintenance keeps your emergency genset at its rated capacity.

Remote Monitoring and Control: Advances in communication technology and the incorporation of IoT sensors mean that emergency gensets can now be switched on and off and tested remotely. This can be critical in natural disaster situations where trained personnel cannot reach individual generators.

emergency generator


Emergency gensets are a critical element of natural disaster planning and preparedness. Hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and blizzards can destroy mains production capacity and distribution infrastructure. The loss of mains power can pose a risk to life through medical equipment failure, loss of access to clean water, and the disruption of heating systems.

An emergency genset, isolated from mains power equipment, can be switched on when mains power fails to carry essential loads. Generators use fuels such as diesel or natural gas and require large storage capacity, consistent testing, and ongoing maintenance. However, having an emergency genset provides great security and peace of mind in the face of natural disasters.

At Enercon, we have developed thousands of emergency genset projects for our clients to secure them against natural disasters and mains power failure. To find out more about how we can help your disaster preparedness with an emergency genset system, contact our team today.

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