Don't buy that Emergency Generator  - Yet!


Emergency Generators vs Co-Generators and why should you care.


December 5, 2012

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The recent storm brought much damage and disruption to our area. The loss of life was devastating. The financial cost - extreme. As we rebuild and rethink our buildings, infrastructure and our communities,  we can build better.

I have many thoughts and ideas for rethinking our buildings to make them more resilient and economical.  Our communities can be rebuilt to accept floodwaters more readily.  Rather then the unforgiving hard infrastructure like sea walls many are suggesting, a soft, more resilient infrastructure like constructed wetlands and ecologically modified shorelines and 'sponge parks' may be a better answer.

Emergency power generation seems no longer a luxury.  For those who endured power outages for more than a few days, it became a necessity. We have always included emergency power systems for health care and critical facilities.  Now our homes, offices , schools and buildings of every type are demanding emergency power generators.

Don't do it. - yet. Think about a cogeneration unit. The difference is significant.  While an emergency generator can adequately meet your needs in the event of a power outage - a cogeneration unit can do all the things an emergency generator can do as well as; pay for itself, lower your electrical costs, shave peak loading and reduce your carbon emissions. 


We have just installed a 75 kW cogeneration unit that will pay for itself in 15 years.  We are looking at some smaller units that have paybacks of under 10 years.  While those payback periods seem larger than some think are reasonable, an emergency generator never pays for itself except in the emotional category of providing power when the grid is down.


A cogeneration unit is named as such because it not only generates electricity, it uses the heat from that generation for your building.  It can heat your spaces, domestic water and even a spa or swimming pool.  It is the combined generation of heat and power that makes these units so efficient. 


Typically your cogeneration unit can run on natural gas and be a engine-driven generator, microturbine, steam turbine, or fuel cell.   A synchronous  motor (as opposed to an induction type) is typically required for emergency generation when the grid is down.  A manual or automatic transfer switch is required and sometimes storage batteries are provided for added security.


The environmental, and economic benefits such as peak electric demand reduction, higher fuel-use efficiency, emissions reductions, and lower energy costs are important, however as many of us learned recently, having available electricity when the grid is down can mean a world of difference.

Michael Shilale Architects, LLP delivers integrated solutions for academic, commercial, institutional, municipal and residential clients, covering new construction, renovation, energy savings and environmentally-conscious and mission-driven designs. Additional MSA services include energy efficiency audits, consultations and procurement, advising on smart meters and real time pricing platforms.

To review MSA’s top 20 projects, visit . For more information about the firm go to Contact Michael Shilale directly by calling 845-708-9200.



Residential Cogeneration Schematic

75 kW Cogeneration Unit Recently Installed in

North Rockland High School