Stud Welding Applications

29 June, 23 9:44 am · Leave a comment · Red-D-Arc

Stud welding is a highly versatile welding process for fasteners and bolts. It can weld studs to all electrically conductive metals, including carbon steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. 

Industries of every stripe use stud welding in one way or another. So, let’s examine how different parts of the most prominent industries use it to improve part fabrication efficiency and how you can benefit from our stud welder rentals.

Introduction to Stud Welding

Stud welding was developed before WWII but quickly became a go-to welding choice for quick and efficient fastener fusing to the base metal. Today, the stud welding process is the best method to weld studs, and you can choose from several different stud welding types to best match your application.

What is Stud Welding?

“No filler metal is involved with stud welding.”

Stud welding is a welding process that joins a metal stud with a base metal, and it can be performed with arc, resistance, friction, and percussion welding methods. But, arc stud welding is the most commonly used stud welding process.

No filler metal is involved with stud welding. This process is used with or without a shielding gas or protective flux, depending on the used stud welding method. Stud welding also relies on pressure to fuse the metal fastener with the base metal once both are heated to the point of melting. 

Benefits of Stud Welding

The number one benefit of stud welding is the extreme efficiency and speed of stud attachment. Stud welding is measured in milliseconds. So, other arc welding processes like TIG and MIG can’t compare, even if automated welding is employed.

  • Extreme welding speed
  • Easy to automate
  • The operator doesn’t need to be a welder to use stud welding equipment
  • Significantly easier manual welding compared to other arc welding processes
  • It can be used for various stud types (i.e., threaded, plain pins, headed pins, rectangular shapes, slotted pins, internally threaded fasteners, etc.)
  • Low heat input into the welded metal minimizes HAZ and warping
  • Stud welding heat-treatable aluminum alloys minimizes over aging and softening of adjacent base metal
  • It doesn’t affect the back side of the weld
  • Stud welding doesn’t require access to the back side of the welded plate
  • Studs can be welded to extra thin sheets of metal with capacitor discharge stud welders
  • It’s possible to weld studs to dissimilar metals
  • Stud welding provides robust welds

Construction Applications for Stud Welding

Stud welding is crucial to the construction industry. Building large steel structures, bridges, underground systems, dams, and other structures requires fusing various fasteners and steel bolts, and stud welding provides the most efficient stud joining system.

Steel Structures and Building Construction

Steel frame construction benefits from stud welding by connecting shear studs to the steel beams and through steel decking sheets. In particular, “thru deck welding” achieves a composite action between the concrete slab and the steel construction. 

Bridge Construction

Studs are essential to strengthen and connect shear connectors to the concrete base of bridge elements. In addition, steel plating and similar steel parts of a bridge rely on stud welding to form the full bridge structure. Without studs, bridges wouldn’t be able to have a cohesion of steel and concrete elements, making them indispensable in the bridge industry. 

Concrete Reinforcement

It’s possible to reinforce concrete and provide ductile connections using special rebar studs. Since concrete is brittle, rebar studs are often necessary for earthquake-resistant concrete structure connections, seismic shear walls, and securing steel plates to concrete structures. Various shapes of rebar studs are available to match the connection type and provide the necessary ductility.

Roofing And Insulation Systems

The roofing and insulation industry relies on stud welding to attach fasteners to the metal substrate before the insulation is attached to the fasteners. Insulation weld pins are inexpensive, and the capacitor discharge stud welders can attach them to the metal substrate quickly and efficiently.

Automotive Applications for Stud Welding

The automotive industry wouldn’t be the same without stud welding. Multiple vehicle production stages use stud welding, including airbags installation, power steering modules, exhaust systems, and heat shields. 

Automotive Body Repair and Restoration

Auto body shops use stud welding systems to avoid invasive procedures when repairing car body dents. Stud welding one or more pins to the dents makes it easy to pull them out and correct the car body after minor collisions. Then, technicians cut off the welded pins and grind off the excess metal. 

Vehicle Frame and Chassis Construction

Vehicle manufacturing requires a huge number of automated welding operations, which include stud welding. A high-energy arc allows quick fastener fusing with the vehicle frame, allowing seamless attachment of various vehicle components. 

Engine Mounting and Exhaust Systems

Mounting the engine and exhaust systems in vehicles requires various studs to be installed during car fabrication. 

Manufacturing and Industrial Applications for Stud Welding

“Stud welding is the go-to choice for fast stud fusing in complex arrays”

The industrial sector uses manual and automated stud welding to manufacture sheet metal and machinery parts. While other arc welding processes are paramount for manufacturing, stud welding is the go-to choice for fast stud fusing in complex arrays. 

Sheet Metal Fabrication

Stud welding is the best way to join fasteners and other types of studs to sheet metal in large-scale production. Since stud welders produce very short bursts of energy, sheet metal is unlikely to warp or burn through

Machinery and Equipment Assembly

Fabricating machinery and equipment often requires numerous fasteners and pins to be applied to thin sheet metal or thick metal plates. Stud welding can be automated for precise and efficient stud joining for almost any configuration. So, attaching machinery guards, hatches, handles, fluid lines, cover plates, and other parts can easily be completed with the stud welding process.

Electrical and Electronic Component Mounting

Fastening processes for electrical components often require stud welding during production. Many electronic systems, communication systems, electric motors, and other electrical equipment need stud welding fascia panels, earthing studs, printed circuit boards (PCBs), switches, buttons, and other small electrical elements. So, stud welding doesn’t always involve thick, large steel studs. It’s also used for far more sophisticated manufacturing. 

Advancements and Innovations in Stud Welding

Stud welding is a growing field. While the process stems from before WWII, numerous innovations have transformed it to better suit modern needs of high efficiency and automation.

Automated Stud Welding Systems

Automated stud welding employs pre-programmed commands to facilitate large-scale, repeatable production. These systems can operate on multiple axes to provide maximum accuracy and accommodate different part shapes. Automated stud welding systems can use CNC to maximize accuracy and efficiency. 

Since stud welding is fundamentally a simple process, automation doesn’t require a lot of programming. In addition, automating stud welding improves welding efficiency and workplace safety by removing human error and direct presence in the welding area.

Specialized Stud Welding Techniques

Specialized stud welding applications like HVAC require a slightly modified process. Since the HVAC metal base is wrapped in the insulation, it requires stud welding the metal pins to keep the insulation in place. These pins are similar to thumbtacks in shape but are far larger. But, sometimes, the stud welding process welds the caps onto the previously welded pins, fixing the insulation between the two.

Some processes, like friction stud welding, are completely different from traditional stud welding. Friction welding relies on friction generated between the welded element and the base metal to heat them to the point of melting as the welded stud spins at high RPM. The stud is pressed against the base metal and spun, which causes them to fuse. So, unlike traditional stud welding, friction welding doesn’t require an electric arc to fuse the materials. 

Considerations for Stud Welding Applications

It’s vital to consider whether the stud material and base metal are compatible before welding. You should also conduct surface preparation when necessary and select the stud type and size according to design needs and stud welding machine capabilities.

Material Compatibility and Selection

Stud and base materials should be compatible for stud welding to achieve a strong bond. Carbon and stainless steels work great for drawn arc and capacitor discharge stud welding. But, high carbon steels (above 0.25%) require preheating to prevent weld cracking.

Steel alloys are more challenging to stud weld depending on the alloy type. But you’ll generally get better welds on steel alloys using the drawn arc welding process. 

Copper base metal supports welding studs from mild and stainless steel, but you’ll achieve the best results with copper studs. Use capacitor discharge stud guns because copper conducts heat exceptionally well. The high amount of concentrated current from the capacitor will melt and fuse copper, while other stud welding methods might struggle.

Stud welding aluminum usually works like a charm. An aluminum base with aluminum studs is the best way to go. You can weld pure aluminum to aluminum alloys and vice versa.

It’s also important to use polarity compatible with the welded material. Use DCEN for steels and DCEP for aluminum and magnesium.

Stud Type and Size

Stud welders are rated according to the maximum diameter of the stud they can weld. For example, the Proweld ARC-3000 can weld studs from 1/4″ to 1-1/4″ diameter with preciseness and repeatability. It’s important to choose a stud welder that can use the stud size and type you need to join to the parent metal. You can always contact us, and our experts will help you find a stud welder for your needs.

Surface Preparation and Weld Quality

It’s vital to thoroughly clean the surface area where you intend to weld a stud. Remove paint, grease, oils, rust, or any other element that can contaminate the weld pool.

To achieve the maximum weld quality, you should also:

  • Ensure a proper workpiece connection
  • Use adequate amperage output for the stud’s thickness/diameter
  • Use appropriate ferrules (ceramic arc shields for the stud weld)
  • Apply the correct gun angle (usually perpendicular to the surface)
  • Use welding cables of sufficient size for the applied current


Stud welding may seem like a highly specialized process at first glance, but it’s applied in almost every industry. Fasteners, pins, rods, rebar, and other kinds of studs are vital for manufacturing complex machinery and constructing cohesive concrete and steel structures in the construction industry. 

Our stud welder rentals include small stud welding equipment and industrial stud welding products. Contact us today, and our experts in the sales team will help you find the right stud welder for your application, whether you run a small fabrication shop or conduct manufacturing on a large scale.

Miller’s Pipeworx Welding System

20 June, 23 12:36 pm · Leave a comment · Red-D-Arc

Having the right tools for the job can make a difference between being profitable and breaking even. And in the world of welding, select welding power sources capable of providing improved performance in target applications than others.

 As an example, machines designed for welding in the field may be rugged to meet reliability demands in challenging applications but may lack the features needed in a manufacturing environment to achieve optimal productivity and ease of use.

“The pipe shop” is a unique subset of the manufacturing environment, and pipe welding certainly has unique challenges. Miller’s pipe welder is a flagship welding system that is purpose-built for pipe welding and engineered with feedback from welders in the pipe shop.

A Welding System

The PipeWorx 400 is a welding power supply, but the PipeWorx Welding System is the combination of equipment—power source, dual wire feeder, and running gear—that helps to maximize performance. Running gear is the industry term for the various accessories that make moving the power supply to various workpieces around the shop much easier. 

The rolling cart features a dual-cylinder rack which makes transporting both argon and argon/carbon dioxide shielding gasses faster and safer. The running gear also features innovative cable and gun management solutions that help to keep a tidy and trip-free work environment. This is especially useful considering that the PipeWorx system is capable of switching between processes without needing to disconnect guns, torches, or stingers.

High-Output Multi-Process Welding

The Pipeworx 400 provides plenty of power for tackling a wide range of pipe wall thicknesses with virtually every process commonly found in the pipe shop. 400 amps of output current is available at 100% duty cycle when gouging with 5/16” and smaller carbons or welding with the SMAW, GMAW/MIG, and gas shielded flux-cored processes. Note that these processes use direct current electrode positive (DCEP) polarity. The machine also allows GTAW/TIG welding with 350 amps of output current at 100% duty cycle. This process uses direct current electrode negative (DCEN) polarity.

With conventional machines, switching processes involves reconfiguring the position of the work (ground) lead and the welding lead between terminals/lugs. Although this process is not complicated, it costs a small amount of time that, over the course of a year or large project, can certainly add up. For maximum productivity, the Quick-Select technology featured on the PipeWorx Welding System allows making polarity changes at the press of a button. This is especially useful after depositing a high-quality root/hot pass with the precision and control that GTAW offers but completing the remaining passes with a higher deposition rate process such as GMAW/MIG or FCAW-G.

Improving Control at the Root

Both GTAW and GMAW can be used to deposit sound root and hot-pass welds, but GMAW is certainly faster. The RMD—Regulated Metal Deposition—waveform featured on the PipeWorx 400 machine can help to speed the process further by improving quality and ease of use when depositing this critical pass.

Conventional methods of depositing a root pass on an open-root joint involve the use of low-current welding parameters that produce a short-circuit transfer. But any instability in the transfer caused by joint variation or technique can lead to issues such as spatter or lack of fusion. RMD is a proprietary waveform that assists the shorting event for a more stable arc and calmer weld puddle. The result is a process that is easier to use by welders of all skill levels.

The Right Process for the Job

But the RMD waveform is designed almost exclusively for root pass welding. After depositing this pass, it is time to consider which process to use next. Fortunately, the dual wire feeder supplied with the PipeWorx Welding System makes selection easy, no matter if you are welding using a welding positioner or are otherwise locked in a fixed position. For pipes to be welded in the 1G rolled position, most shops will elect to use a constant voltage or pulsed-spray transfer. The PipeWorx 400 features the flagship AccuPulse waveform, which is excellent for achieving the smoothest and most stable transfer when welding in position. Typically, the pulsed-spray transfer uses the same wire as the RMD root pass.

When welding in a fixed position, a filler metal change is suggested. Although pulsed-spray transfer can be used for fixed position welding, it is often preferable from a productivity standpoint to use an all-position gas-shielded flux cored wire. This is where the dual feeder becomes an excellent feature, as it minimizes the need for changeover when performing a single task, or multiple throughout the day.


If your day-to-day challenge is pipe welding, chances are good that the PipeWorx Welding System has features that can address complications to achieving high productivity while maintaining high quality. But also consider obtaining the tools you need from a partner who understands both the operation of these tools and the need for sourcing them in a timely fashion. Contact us today to learn how our experience with pipe welding and PipeWorx Welding System can translate to operational efficiency.

Mig vs. Pulsed Mig vs. Doubled Pulsed: What’s The Difference?

12 June, 23 9:05 am · Leave a comment · Peter Germanese

Metal Inert Gas welding, also known as MIG, has seen some great innovations over the last 40+ years.

Modern technology facilitates some excellent new techniques to help with making the process cleaner, more effective, faster, and stronger. What’s not to love? 

Let’s dig in.

MIG Welding: How it Works

Basic MIG welding is fairly simple. You have a torch with a wire feeder, and the wire acts as the electrode for an electric current. The electrode conducts the arc into the workpiece, melting in the process and becoming part of the weld pool along with the workpieces. Together, they solidify into a weld, ideally free of pocks or inclusions, and stronger than the original materials.

Image source:

MIG comes in two forms: short circuit and spray. In order to understand pulsed MIG, you need to know how these two variations work and their pros and cons.

Short Circuit MIG Welding

Short circuit MIG welding is the simplest kind of MIG welding. With this form of the process, the workpiece is grounded by using a ground clamp.


Electricity pushed into the welding torch flows to the electrode and, when the electrode touches the workpiece, short circuits through the ground. This flash of arc heats up and melts the electrode until enough of it melts away that the circuit breaks, leaving a molten pool of metal where the electrode contacts the workpiece.

In another process, like stick welding, you would then need to manually adjust the position of the welding torch and the stick of filler metal and tap again to create the circuit arc and melt more metal into the next bit of joint. However, with MIG machines, the wire electrode is fed in automatically, creating a constant, repeated short circuit and allowing you to weld much more quickly and evenly.

Image source:

All of this is protected from inclusions and contamination via the use of shielding gas. The result is, ideally, a solid weld with metal free of inclusions and other problems.

The biggest benefit of short circuit MIG is that it can be used in any position, including vertical and overhead. Because each “tap” of the circuit is brief, the weld pool doesn’t stay molten for long, and there’s no continuous arc that can make things more dangerous for an operator.

Unfortunately, short circuit MIG has one significant problem: it’s messy. Each short circuit is a tiny explosion of power and that creates an outward force, creating a spatter. This kind of MIG welding is very easy to learn and is a common “basic” protocol, but it requires a bunch of cleanup and rarely looks good in its base form.

It’s very functional, though, and can be used on any thickness of steel.

Spray MIG Welding

The alternative to short circuit MIG welding is spray MIG welding. It was first developed when someone asked the question: “What happens if you crank up the speed of the wire and the voltage of the welding machine?”

The answer: the arc is created before the electrode even has a chance to contact the workpiece due to the higher voltage. Faster wire feed speed causes the electrode to melt almost before it leaves the torch, and the resulting molten metal is literally sprayed via the powers of electricity, the shielding gas, and gravity to the location of the weld.

In a way, you can think of the difference between these two as sort of like the difference between painting a surface using a brush versus using spray paint, though the analogy isn’t actually very accurate when you consider the mechanics behind them.

Spray transfer MIG has a number of distinct advantages over short circuit MIG welding. Primarily, it’s much cleaner; there’s no spatter to deal with, and it can be used on aluminum because of the comparatively lower heat at the site of the weld. It requires a more-pure shielding gas (usually 90%+ Argon) to achieve a quality and consistent spray.

There are, unfortunately, a few downsides to this process as well. Though it is cleaner and more effective on certain materials than short circuit transfer, the fact that the molten metal from the electrode is literally spraying across open air means that the process can’t be used in vertical or overhead positions. Trying to do so will result in poor quality transfer as much of the molten metal falls back down or drips, leaving shallow, inconsistent welds and risking burns or injuries to the operator.

Enter Pulsed MIG Welding

This is where pulsed MIG welding comes into play. What is it, though?

Imagine if you could get flexibility in the positioning of short circuit welding but the cleanliness and speed of spray transfer out of one single process. It’d be great, right? Well, luckily, you can.

Pulsed MIG welding was first developed in the 1980s using advancements in electronic control technologies.

Instead of having one solid amperage across the board while you’re welding and controlling the frequency of contact/arc via the speed of wire feeding, pulsed MIG uses electronic components to set two amperages; a peak amperage and a background amperage.

The background amperage is a lower amperage that is the baseline minimum your machine puts out at all times. This “flickering” of the voltage has a few effects.

First, the background amperage never dips below a determined minimum. This provides a solid baseline and enforces a constant arc while reducing the overall amount of heat going into the weld puddle. This is how it can be used in positions other than horizontal, and it makes it flexible enough to use overhead.

The peak amperage, meanwhile, is the higher amperage necessary to flash-melt and spray the electrode as you would in spray transfer. This gives your weld bead the cleanliness and consistency of a spray transfer without the limitations caused by high heat in a standard spray.

Unlike traditional spray transfer that is primarily controlled by rapid wire feed speed, pulsed MIG welding uses electronic components to create a square wave in the electrical current, with a frequency (measured in hertz) of anywhere from a few times per second to hundreds of times per second.

The biggest drawback to pulsed MIG is that it requires a highly skilled operator. While the process itself is not difficult, knowing how to set the base and peak amperages, feed speed, gas flow rate, and other settings requires a lot of experience or a solid reference document for consistent projects.

At least, that was the case in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. In modern times, the operator doesn’t need to have an encyclopedic knowledge of various factors and configurations to use pulsed MIG as a process.

Modern MIG machines have a wide range of programs that can be selected based on key attributes of a configuration, essentially allowing an onboard computer to do the thinking for you.

This has made pulsed MIG infinitely more accessible to casual operators and has made it often a go-to process today.

What is Double Pulsed MIG Welding?

If pulsing the current is good at making a welding process more effective, what if you pulsed it again?

While this might sound like pseudoscience nonsense, it’s actually easily achievable with signal alterations and is done in a wide variety of settings with a wide range of technologies. It’s not limited just to welding, not by a long shot.

One of the features of a square wave is that an additional square wave of another frequency will add and remove from the base square wave. While in uncontrolled signals, this amounts to noise, it can be highly beneficial when carefully controlled.

For example, check out this signal diagram. In this diagram, you can see the primary square pulse, with the blue upper amperage and the orange lower amperage. However, throughout the entire signal, there’s a smaller square wave at a higher frequency that adds and removes from the base signal.

To put it in numerical terms, you might have patterns like these:

  • Single Pulsed: 10, 5, 10, 5, 10, 5, 10, 5…
  • Double Pulsed: 10, 9, 10, 9, 10, 5, 6, 5, 6, 5, 10, 9, 10…

This additional pulsing of the electrical current allows the welding machine to give the operator even more exceptional control over the weld bead. In fact, the welds it makes can look almost like TIG welds, with that characteristic “stack of dimes” appearance that is so sought-after aesthetically in many welds.

Unlike TIG, a double-pulsed MIG still uses a consumable electrode and still results in the basic spray transfer operation, along with the faster transfer speeds of MIG over TIG.

This leaves you with a strong, solid, and highly aesthetically pleasing final weld bead.

The greatest downsides to double-pulsed are similar to what single-pulsed used to be; that is, it’s very complicated and requires a lot of knowledge to set properly. With so many settings and configurations that need to be exactly right, it’s very easy for a project to fail because of an improper setting.

As such, many double-pulsed machines actually “fix” some of the settings. The secondary pulsing, for example, might be locked or might only be toggled between a couple of standard settings as designed by the developers of the machine.

Of course, the development that goes into creating these settings, and the computerization required to control the configuration, means that welding machines capable of double-pulsed MIG welding tend to be much more expensive than machines capable of single-pulsed or basic no-pulsed MIG welding. The increases in efficiency and speed can be worth that added cost, but the startup costs and training required to do it are much steeper.

Why Isn’t Double-Pulsed MIG The Standard?

Given all of the advantages of double-pulsed MIG, you might wonder why it isn’t standardized yet.

The answer comes from several different angles.

The first is that, as a relatively new development in MIG technology, it’s both somewhat expensive and in need of more testing and development. That’s not to say it’s dangerous – no more so than any welding process, and less than some – but that companies still aren’t entirely sure of what the best configurations are for specific tasks. Some tasks may also fall outside of standard configurations, which means operators might want unlocked machines, which have many more potential points of failure.

Similarly, many companies are coming at the process from different angles and with different forms of development. That means machines you get from one company may not share settings or configurations with other company machines, and even the terminology is different. In part, this is due to different development processes, but it’s also in part just companies trying to find a name that catches on so they can claim it as their trademark.

At the same time, welding as an industry is rarely quick to embrace change. There are many old hand operators out there who insist on stick welding as the best process. Whether it’s resistance to change, resistance to the expense of new machines, or simply a desire to wait to see what settles out as the “best” option, many shops are hesitant to invest in the newest technologies.

That said, double-pulsed MIG, used in conjunction with welding automation systems and even computerized fabrication machines, can create exceptionally consistent end products with fast throughput, efficient use of electrode wire and other consumables, and other benefits.

How to Get Started with Pulsed MIG Welding

The best way to get started with pulsed MIG and double-pulsed MIG is to obtain a welding machine that can handle it and simply give it a try. You don’t have to outright buy a new welding machine, however.

That’s where we come in. Our welding equipment rentals offer the option to try anything before you spring for a full purchase. And, if you like what you try, you can even buy our used welding equipment.

Whether you need small-scale welding equipment for a single shop or a complete, automated solution for spinning up a fabrication facility, we’ve got you covered. Reach out and talk to our sales and service teams to set you up with the solution to any welding needs you may have at any scale.

Advantages Offered by Plasma Cutting

07 June, 23 9:04 pm · Leave a comment · Red-D-Arc

Plasma cutting offers many advantages over oxy-fuel, waterjet, laser, and mechanical metal cutting processes. The hot electric arc of a plasma cutter heats the compressed air/gas and ionizes it. The ionized air becomes the 4th state of matter — plasma. When constricted in the plasma torch and released under pressure at extremely high heat, the plasma arc slices electrically conductive metals quickly and produces clean cuts. 

Advantages of Plasma Cutting

Red-D-Arc offers plasma cutter rentals suitable for almost any industry and application. Plasma cutting advantages are utilized in industries of every type. So, let’s see how your business may benefit from this simplified, fast, and precise metal-cutting method.


Be Prepared: How to Create a Power Outage Contingency Plan

05 June, 23 9:41 am · Leave a comment · Peter Germanese

Severe weather affects everyone in the world in one way or another. Whether it’s blizzards, extreme heat, flooding, or hurricanes, dangerous weather events put stress on infrastructure and very frequently lead to power outages. 

If your business operates in a storm-prone area, it’s critical to have a contingency plan for a power outage, and that involves having sources of backup power that don’t rely on a connection to the grid.

Hurricane season is upon us, and for those in areas where massive storms are likely to strike, now is the time to plan and prepare. Let’s dig into how.

What Types of Businesses Need a Contingency for Power Outages?

Virtually any business can benefit from having backup power on hand, but some can benefit more than others, and some require it.

Two of the most critical kinds of facilities that need emergency power access are food production facilities and hospitals, both of which are required by law to have backup power available. After all, in the event of a hurricane or other natural disaster, people still need to eat, and people will very likely need medical care. Hospitals are beacons for shelter and safety as well as treatment in an emergency situation, and that power access is critical to their mission. 

Food production facilities, likewise, need that power to be able to provide for the area and community.

Other facilities that can use power generation, but aren’t quite as strictly regulated, include:

  • Other medical facilities, like doctors’ offices and outpatient clinics.
  • Labs of varying sorts, as support for hospitals and other facilities.
  • Stores. People still need access to goods and services during an emergency. Right?
  • Production facilities, because the demands of the rest of the world don’t wait.
  • Electrical contractors because they can’t help others if they’re stuck without power themselves.
  • Restoration companies, who go in once a storm has passed and need portable power to do so.
  • Municipal facilities, which still need to function in an emergency situation.
  • Temporary housing and shelters for those displaced by storm damage.
  • Community centers to provide shelter and resources and a place to organize.

Practically any place of business, municipal facility, or public work can benefit from having a power outage contingency plan and the hardware required to back it up.

Why Power Outages are Dangerous

It’s incredible how much of modern society relies on electricity to get things done. The central power grid is a miracle of modern engineering, but it’s not foolproof. Downed trees, downed poles, damage to substations and power facilities, and more can all impact the grid and its ability to support you.

Why is it bad when the power goes down, though? It’s more than just an unscheduled vacation; a power outage, particularly one caused by a hurricane, can have vast repercussions.

  • Computer damage and data loss. A separate data recovery and disaster plan is a great thing to have, but it’s even better not to lose power and risk your systems in the first place (and to have redundant, off-site backups in case the worst happens.)
  • Business downtime. Any time your business isn’t operating is time when you’re losing money, unable to fulfill contracts, or provide goods or services to your customers. The longer you go without power – like when you’re waiting for half of the state to recover from a hurricane – the worse it is for your business.
  • Damage. Hurricanes aren’t just a lot of wind. Heavy winds, heavy rains, debris, and more can all impact a business. Power is required to help prevent damage, protect against flooding, and pump away water. It’s also necessary for rapid clean-up. You’ve likely seen pictures of mold-covered homes and businesses left to languish after a storm; the longer it takes to get power back, the larger the repair bill will be if anything is salvageable in the first place.
  • Personnel risk. More extensive facilities may not have many windows, and if a storm cuts out power, it can be difficult or impossible to navigate in the dark. Moreover, it can even be dangerous in facilities with falls, large machines, or other hazards. Power, even if it does nothing else, can provide lights so people can navigate safely.

All of this is setting aside the human risk and cost, which is, of course, mitigated by home protection, care, and disaster plans.

Before the Storm Season: Be Prepared

Preparing for power outages begins long before the storm season rolls around and should start ASAP. 

Remember that the worst time to have to track down and buy something like a generator is when a storm is bearing down on you; that’s when everyone else is searching, when store shelves are emptying at a rapid pace, and when your chances of getting an appropriate backup system in place are slim to none.

Start by making a checklist of tools and resources you would need as part of your storm recovery plan and power outage contingency. Here are some ideas:

  • Welding machines. Hurricanes can cause a lot of damage, so having a welding system on hand to make temporary repairs can be a huge relief. Make sure you get a machine with multi-function capacity, plenty of accessories, and backup parts, and have at least one person on staff trained to use it.
  • Generators. Having a source of backup power is essential. You never know if your access will be down for hours, days, or weeks. Backup generators can be full-facility machines installed in place, or smaller, more portable generators, or both, depending on your needs.
  • Heavy equipment. It may be beneficial to have something like a bobcat, forklift, or excavator on hand to move debris, haul aside fallen trees, and more.
  • Backup computers. Often, laptops with their own self-contained batteries and portable functionality are ideal. A few rugged, case-clad tablets might be beneficial as well.
  • Fuel. Generators consume fuel, as do service vehicles of all sorts. Make sure you have fuel on hand, at the very least, to power your generators. Make sure you keep the fuel refreshed, as well; don’t forget gasoline can go stale and lose potency in as little as three months. Diesel lasts 6-12 on average, and many generators use it.
  • Compressors. Many tools can be powered by compressed air instead of electricity, so keeping a compressor on hand can be beneficial as well.
  • Protective equipment. This can be things like heavy plywood boards to secure over windows (or steel shutters for a more permanent installation), tarps, tie-downs, bands, and other forms of security to protect assets from blowing away (or walking away after the storm).

Not all facilities will need all of these on hand, but it gives you a good idea of what to think about. 

What would be useful, helpful, or downright necessary in the event of a disaster like a hurricane passing directly overhead?

Another thing you should do as part of your preparedness checklist is determine the electrical load you’ll need to support. A generator does you no good if it doesn’t have the capacity to meet your needs.

Our recommendation is to calculate several different load thresholds. 

Start with the bare minimum emergency power. This is enough to power lights, safety equipment, mobility tools like elevators if necessary, and emergency HVAC if it’s required for your facility. Add in enough additional capacity to power things like compressors and other tools that may be necessary in an emergency situation.

Next, determine an average “functional” load. This is your capacity if you want to remain open and in operation, even if you’re doing so at a lower capacity. For a store, this might mean keeping the refrigeration on in addition to the lights. 

For a production facility, it might mean keeping the critical machines powered up but shutting down fewer necessary accessories.

Third, you want a “maximum capacity” load. This is your full power, all-hands-on-deck, everything-at-work load. This is the primary load you’ll need to cover if you want to operate at full capacity during an emergency situation and is what the backup systems for critical infrastructure will need.  

Picking and evaluating generator systems

Once you know your power capacity needs, you can shop for an appropriate generator system with the right amount of capacity and redundancy, as necessary.

Evaluating a generator system is about more than just deciding between a portable unit or an installation or choosing between gas or diesel. You also have to consider factors such as:

  • Wattage capacity. Calculating your capacity is critical, which is why we spent so long on it above.
  • Type of power. Do you need steady, uninterrupted power, or is some variability acceptable? Will a heavy power draw stress a generator to its limit?
  • Battery systems. Will your generator tie into battery backups or another local generation system, like solar? Will they have their own capacity to store some power temporarily?
  • Three-phase. While single-phase power is generally acceptable for residential use, commercial facilities and essential buildings will likely need a generator system with three-phase capability. It’s more stable and reliable, but of course, usually more expensive.

Of course, the other factors are still relevant. Do you want an installed system hooked up directly to your building or portable generators you can haul to where they’re needed? Do you want a system to kick on automatically if power is lost, or is manual start okay? Do you want to purchase a system, or do you want to rent something for the storm season and return it during the off-season?

The Storm’s Coming

It’s one thing to be prepared ahead of time, and it’s another to have your plans put into action. 

So, have a storm contingency plan, and be ready to implement it. Divide duties and assign them to individuals, and make sure they’re completed.

Once a storm has been named and is on its way, it’s time to put your plan to work. Secure your assets, safely shut down machines as necessary, and make sure your generators are tested and functional. This is your last chance to obtain any necessary items, but remember that big purchases and installations need to be in place already. 

You can rent generators, welders, and other tools for the duration of the emergency, but they’re likely going to be in increasingly short supply as everyone else scrambles for their own contingency plans.

Don’t forget to secure physical assets. You may want to have waterproof storage containers available for sensitive documents and electronics in addition to your other forms of physical storage. More than a few businesses underestimate how reliant they are on paper until that paper is soaked and moldy.

After the Storm

In the immediate aftermath of a storm, your disaster recovery plan comes into play. Your generators are hard at work keeping your facilities running. You can put people in place to prevent the loss of assets, either from theft or just post-storm damage. Keep an eye out for shorting equipment or downed lines that can be safety hazards or cause fires.

Once the storm has passed, you get to evaluate your disaster recovery and power outage contingency plans. 

What worked, and what didn’t? 

What did you need but didn’t have and could obtain for the next time? What challenges did you encounter, and how can you address them in the future?

While we primarily provide welding equipment rentals, we’re also more than happy to offer rental power generators and distribution panels as well. We have a variety of towable, portable generator systems available for rent to suit pretty much any needs you may have during the storm season. The hurricanes are coming, and now is your best chance to be prepared.  

Have any questions? 

Feel free to drop us a line. Or, skip directly to our generators and get a quote for the machines you’ll need. Weather the storm and come out ahead on the recovery.

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Airgas, an Air Liquide company, is the nation's leading single-source supplier of gases, welding and safety products. Known locally nationwide, our distribution network serves more than one million customers of all sizes with a broad offering of top-quality products and unmatched expertise.