Generators in the Data Center Industry

Generators in the Data Center Industry

May 10, 2016

When the average person looks at a large industrial facility like a manufacturing plant, it’s easy for him to understand that it consumes a huge amount of power. It’s not quite as easy for that average person to understand why a data center, which might be housed as a tenant in a relatively small area of an industrial office building, needs as much power as it does. Even standing inside the data center, there are not many moving parts to see; just a lot of computers and electronics sitting motionless, perhaps with some blinking lights. Make no mistake, though—inside those boxes a huge amount of energy is being consumed, and even more energy is needed to cool that equipment down and prevent overheating.

A data center has an additional factor to deal with that not all industrial plants do: Interruption of operation due to a power failure is not an option. Lost production at a plant is an expensive problem, but the failure of a data center is unacceptable—it can expose client information and prevent critical communication of data. One of the most important components of a data center is a system of one or more backup generators, capable of supplying a sufficient amount of energy to the center during a blackout without interrupting service.


backup generator for a data center must be large enough to sustain normal activity for the data center in the event of a local power failure. When selecting a generator (or set of generators), a manager must ensure that it is capable of producing the necessary amount of power; otherwise, the generator will fail and the data center will be forced to go offline after all.

Power generation capacity is not the only consideration, however. When the main power supply fails, even a split-second of downtime can wreak havoc on the data stored in the center, much of which depends on constant communication and updating with other servers and computers offsite. As impossible as it sounds to the average person, the only acceptable situation is one in which the backup generator can take over and provide power with no interruption whatsoever to the incoming voltage.

An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) system accomplishes this goal by functioning as a part of the main incoming power system. In simplified terms, the incoming power is stored in the UPS system before being passed on to the data center. In the event of a power failure, the UPS system has enough energy stored to continue powering the center until the backup generators switch on and produce enough power for normal operations. Because this energy also routes through the UPS system, the data center experiences no interruption in power.

A diesel generator cannot sit motionless for months, then be expected to switch on at a moment’s notice and run smoothly. In order to keep seals, metal parts, and other components oiled and ready for action at all times, data center operators must conduct periodic maintenance, running generators occasionally and checking to ensure that the system is ready to switch over to backup power and back to regular power at any time.


Uninstalling and installing these very large generators are complex and potentially hazardous tasks. Technicians must use cranes to unload and load generators onto trucks for transportation, which requires permits and a high level of expertise in order to keep the area safe during the project. In addition, the technicians must take precautions to dispose of large quantities of diesel fuel without contaminating the environment and incurring fines.


LEL International provides several valuable services to data centers that are looking to replace backup generators that no longer meet quality, data security, and/or efficiency standards. Our removal technicians understand and follow all applicable safety regulations and make the security of your data center the top priority throughout the job. More importantly, LEL International offers a wide range of pre-owned UPS systems and backup generators that can meet the needs of data centers without requiring them to pay full price for brand new equipment. Contact our staff directly to learn more about these and our other data center equipment/decommissioning services.

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