Millions of homes and businesses lose power each year and, on average, the outages last seven hours. With refrigerated food expiring in two to four hours, a power outage can lead to a significant waste of product and financial loss for restaurants. Additionally, when chefs can’t cook and customers can’t dine, revenues stop, which can create crippling and unrecoverable costs for restaurants.
Whether the outages are due to extreme weather, mandated rolling brown or blackouts or interruptions caused by an unreliable grid, there are ways restaurants can continue to operate. The solution for restaurants that operate in stand-alone locations is to invest in their infrastructure. This can be achieved by installing a standby generator or battery storage. When either is utilized during a power outage, not only will restaurants reduce food inventory losses, but they can keep cooking, serving, and delivering, which means revenues continue as well.
Here’s how these back-up energy systems work.
Standby Generators—Also known asbackup generators, they are permanently installed outside a building on a concrete pad and placed safely away from windows, doors, and fresh air intakes. They connect to a natural gas utility line or liquid propane tanks and an automatic transfer switch (ATS) connects to the electrical panel. The ATS monitors the utility line, recognizes when power is lost and automatically kicks in within seconds to provide your establishment with back-up power. When the utility power comes back on, the standby generator switches off and is ready to generate power for the next time. Professional technicians will know the size that is best for your business, based on the elements you need to keep running—refrigerators, freezers, fryers, ovens, etc. For those using propane, the generator runs as long as the fuel supply is available.
Battery Storage Systems—Not only are solar panels eco-friendly but, because they can be seen by customers, they are a way for restaurants to showcase their commitment to the environment. And, just as importantly, they serve as a regular power source during the day when the sun is out. For those who pair solar with battery storage, excess energy that’s produced by the panels can be saved in the batteries and used in a variety of ways. Solar and battery energy can become the primary power source for a business that would like to operate “off grid.” Batteries can supplement an existing electrical system to reduce energy costs during times when the utility charges peak rates or it can be tapped to provide critical backup power in case of an outage. The key is to find modular battery technology that can easily be scaled to increase capacity.
There are no winners during a power outage but when you have back-up energy with either a standby generator or battery storage with solar panels, your restaurant can become the “go-to” place for new and returning customers. This is especially important if the outage isn’t weather related because it will bring people out who are looking for an open business. If your restaurant can still be open when everyone else is closed, you can attract new customers and reinforce your trusted brand with returning customers. The time is now.
Clement Feng is vice president of product management for Briggs & Stratton Energy Solutions, which has a portfolio that includes home standby generators and energy storage systems that can help deliver peace of mind, along with energy resiliency and efficiency, to businesses and homeowners.