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Everything You Need to Know about Rental Generators

Q & A with Generator Rental Manager Sal Hernandez

Duthie Power rental generator at a hospital for emergency backup power.

Like insurance, most people don’t think about rental generators until they have to use them. So when your electric company announces a planned blackout – or, heaven forbid, it’s 2 a.m. and your power’s suddenly gone – here’s our guide to keeping your building’s lights on with a no-fuss, no-hassle generator rental

We sat down with Duthie’s own rental generator manager, Sal Hernandez, to find out what you can do to easily find the best fit for your individual building’s needs and budget. Here’s some general information about rental generators:


Should I Rent a Standby Generator, or Just Get a Portable One? 

First things first: do you need to rent a small generator or not?

If you’re the building or facility manager for a company who makes more than $5,000/day, then yes – you’ll need a small generator rental to tide you through planned or unplanned outages.

However, if you’re considering renting one for your house or small business, Sal says it probably isn’t worth it. 


How Much Does It Cost to Rent a Generator?

Sal points out that a single rental generator can cost $3,000 or more per day. Businesses that make less than that are better off shutting down for the day, while houses can keep the essentials (in California, usually the refrigerator) powered with a much cheaper portable generator. 

Of course, if your area is prone to rolling blackouts or extreme weather (and what part of California isn’t?) and your household needs to keep more than the refrigerator in working order, investing in your own standby generator is worth considering. In that case, check out our “Portable or Standby Generator” comparison to see which option is the best fit for your household. 

That being said, many commercial clients do need rental generators to prevent significant potential losses. “Our average rental customers manage food warehouses, Verizon and AT&T cell sites, grocery stores, commercial buildings, large apartment buildings, and manufacturing plants,” says Sal. “Once you’re that size, a rental generator will probably be worth it.” 


What Three Things Should I Tell My Generator Rental Provider?

To ensure the Goldilocks-approved rental generator fit for your building (not so big it’s unnecessarily expensive, not so small your power will short out) Sal says that there’s only three main questions you need to answer:  

  1. What’s your voltage? 

  2. What’s your amperage?  

  3. How far away is your panel from the parking space?  

“We need to know how much power you’ll need,” says Sal. “Since we usually rent to building and facility managers, they generally know that already.“

“If you’re new to generator maintenance and not sure what that is in voltage and amperage, we’ll talk you through the size of your building, how long you need the generator, and the activities you’re using the generator for; for example, powering a major event will have different power requirements than keeping a warehouse refrigerated would. We can also send out a technician to check before providing a quote.” 

The third question lets rental generator providers know what length of cable they’ll need to connect the generator to your power panel – somewhere you don’t want to be caught short!

“Once you have the answer to these three questions, renting the generator should be a cinch,” says Sal. 


What Three Things Should I Ask my Rental Generator Provider? 

Finding the right rental generator provider is essential to a smooth experience with no crucial delays or unpleasant surprises in the final bill. To make sure you’re dealing with a trustworthy professional, Sal recommends asking these three questions: 


1. What is, and is not, included in the up-front cost? 

“I hate to say it, but some generator rental providers do more than nickel-and-dime customers,” says Sal. “They quarter-and-dollar them. 

“In fact, almost the entire rest of the industry doesn’t include sales tax or environmental fees in the initial quote – but they tack them on later, up to 4-5 different fees. 

At Duthie, we have just one price consisting of the cost of the generator, the cable, and the service needed to connect. We cover the rest, and that saves our customers 15-20% of what they’d need to pay another provider. And it’s a turnkey price that includes the drive out, the installation, everything. 

With us, what you see is what you get.”


2. What if my needs change? Is the rental plan flexible?

Especially in California, weather and outages are unpredictable. If you end up needing more or less power, for a longer or shorter time than before, your rental generator provider should understand that. 

“This often comes as more of a pleasant surprise to our customers: our initial quote’s often higher than the final invoice,” says Sal. “For example, we recently did a huge job for the city of Los Angeles, and our final invoice was $48,000 less than our initial quote.”


3. Are your rental generators available on short notice? 

If your apartment building or refrigerated warehouse just lost power at 2:00 am, neither your residents nor your frozen food will appreciate having to wait six hours to be properly cooled. In the case of hospitals and cell phone towers, that six hours could be devastating. 

And yet, not all generator rental companies are willing to jump in their trucks ASAP in such early hours. So it’s worth asking about such situations before you partner with a provider. 

“A few weeks ago, we got a call from a customer in Rancho Cucamonga at midnight saying “how soon can you get out here?” relates Sal. “One of our guys left immediately and got there in two hours. By 2:00 in the morning, the customer had power again. 

But here’s the thing: that customer had called a rental company much nearer Rancho Cucamonga before they called us. That company never answered, which is why they called us instead. 

That company got back to the customer at 8:00 in the morning – eight hours after the customer had needed a generator. And that happens a lot. 

We know every minute without power costs our customer, so we pride ourselves on quick response. It’s why we have a 24/7/365 policy: call our emergency line, and we’ll be on the phone in 15 min or less. We answer our phones personally 99.9% of the time, even in the middle of the night. Because if our customer has an emergency, that’s our emergency too.” 


It Can Be Simple! 

If you know these three answers and ask these five questions, getting a portable electric generator rental can be as easy as putting gas in your car, says Sal. 

“Just as all you need to know is how much gas and what kind your car takes, you just need to know what your requirements are and about how long the outage will be (call the electric company to find out, if possible),” he finishes. 

“The biggest thing to know is that you have the option to rent a generator for your commercial building, and if you ask the right questions you’ll end up with the right solution at the right price.”


Need a rental generator for your building? Contact us or call (rental generator number) to discuss the perfect rental solution with our expert generator rental team. 


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