An Enduring Approach to Temporary Power

Stay Informed

In circumstances that call for temporary power, the long-standing approach has been to cobble together an electrical system using whatever extension cords and portable power supplies may be on hand. Although applications that call for portable power are inherently impermanent, it’s important not to sacrifice safety and increase the risk of trip-and-fall, electrical shock or other injuries. In fact, since these temporary power scenarios are typically found outdoors in the elements and require a significant amount of handling and transportation, extra attention should be paid to make sure the portable power equipment is safe, reliable and built to survive.

According to a 2015 report from the Fire Protection Research Foundation, the leading cause of non-fatal electrical injuries from 2003 through 2010 was from contact with the electrical current of a machine, tool, appliance or light fixture (7,450 injuries). When combined with the secondary cause – contact with wiring, transformers or other electrical components (7,130 injuries) – the two groups account for 72 percent of all non-fatal electrical injuries from that time period. Ensuring your outdoor power equipment provides maximum safety protection can not only help prevent injuries but help protect your company’s reputation from harm.

Up to the Task

For safe and reliable use in outdoor environments like construction sites, petrochemical facilities and disaster relief areas, portable power equipment needs to be able to withstand inclement weather and potentially caustic substances. Also a staple at outdoor festivals and concerts, the power network should safely operate in heavy-traffic areas with large numbers of people.

Unlike a home or business, where the power network is concealed in a wall and protected, when working on large-scale, outdoor power projects, the power network is out amongst everyone, and there have to be special considerations for distributing the power so that it is available at multiple locations. Efforts must also be made to protect the cables, preventing trips and falls by people and maintaining the integrity of the cables as they may be run over by large trucks and other vehicles. 

Out-of-the-Box Thinking

Traditionally made from painted steel, portable power boxes can become dented and cracked after frequent moves, making them more susceptible to rust, weakening connections and increasing potential for liability concerns. Because of these limitations, portable power boxes and their associated wiring devices have become viewed as temporary, somewhat disposable products due to the increased downtime and administrative hassle associated with the frequent reordering of components from multiple suppliers. Shifting to a power distribution box made exclusively of vulcanized rubber can provide exponentially better durability, safety protection and weather resistance.

A portable power system featuring a 100 percent rubber construction is resistant to shock, impact and corrosion, and is lighter in weight than steel boxes providing easier transport. Rubber boxes also pay dividends in terms of performance for abrasion, chemical exposure and temperature extremes.

While perhaps necessitating a higher up-front cost, products that utilize vulcanized rubber and are fully designated for temporary indoor or outdoor power, can ultimately lead to a lower total cost of ownership. Built for maximum reuse with higher grade componentry than traditionally offered in the marketplace, products can be used over far longer periods of time and the downtime and costs associated with product reorder and replacement can be avoided.

A Sturdy, Secure Connection

When drawing various levels of current in a portable power application, it is also important to consider power management and ensure a balanced AC current load between phases. Systems that offer dual-identifier numbered and color-coded receptacles allow users to mentally distribute higher current loads and build a better-running portable power network and reduce the risk of power outages.

For safe and reliable use in outdoor environments, power boxes should be Type 3R weather resistant, UL-certified and meet NEC regulatory compliance by featuring legs that keep electrical components 6 inches above ground level.

Safety is also ensured with the proper use of heavy-duty polyurethane ramps to protect power and data cables, as well as air or water hoses. Built to withstand loads in excess of 16,000 pounds per tire, and featuring non-slip tread patterns, ramps prevent cables and hoses from being crushed or punctured allowing important functions to continue while eliminating safety hazards. 

In applications that call for temporary indoor or outdoor power, maintaining the same level of safety and reliability one would expect from a permanently installed circuit breaker or panel is essential. Choosing products that offer maximum durability and safety protection can go a long way toward helping to reduce the risks of a power outage as well as any potential injuries.

Need more information? Contact WESCO today.