Do you ever drive past a work site and wonder how these massive outdoor construction sites have the electricity to power their entire operation? When a piece of land is undergoing development and construction, it’s not yet tapped into the grid — leaving construction teams without electricity to power their equipment. That’s why they rely on temporary power for construction sites.
But what is temporary power? Where does it come from? And how does one secure temporary power for their job site? We’re here to answer all these questions and more with this full guide on temporary construction power.
What Is Temporary Power and Where Does It Come From?
Temporary power for construction sites is a temporary electrical infrastructure that supplies power to construction equipment, tools, lighting and other necessary facilities during the construction phase.
These temporary power systems typically include components like transformers, distribution panels, wiring, outlets and safety measures like circuit breakers and grounding. The complex systems provide a reliable and safe source of electricity that supports the construction activities until a permanent power source gets established or the project is completed.
Could I Use a Generator Instead?
Many smaller construction sites might opt for diesel generators. Using a generator is an easy, portable and safe way to generate electricity for a work site. However, it can become costly to continuously refuel a generator if you’re working on a long-term, large-scale project.
Larger projects, like commercial construction, may require a temporary power system that uses power from the local electric utility. These larger systems can sustain heavy machinery for long periods, whereas generators require frequent refueling. If you’re choosing between generators and temporary power supply, consider the scale and timeline of your project to find the most cost-effective and efficient way to provide power for your team.
7 Steps to Getting Temporary Power for a Work Site
There are some essential procedures that you must carry out to safely and legally add electricity supply to your construction site. From obtaining a permit from your local utility company to conducting safety training, here are the seven steps to adding temporary power to your work site.
1. Assess Power Requirements
First and foremost, take a step back and look at the big picture of the project. Think about the goals of the project and the tools and machinery you need to power throughout it. In addition to the equipment, are there any other temporary facilities that need power, such as on-site offices?
It’s also important to consider your project’s timeline and what times of day you’ll use the most power. Thoroughly assess every small power requirement of the job now so you can easily answer questions about your power utilization in upcoming steps.
2. Obtain Permits
Check local regulations and obtain any permits required for temporary power installations at construction sites. For the most accurate information on the permits, you need and where to acquire them, reach out to your local utility company or the city office that deals with electricity and utilities.
Once all the proper permits are in place, it’s time to find and hire a temporary power company.
3. Weigh Your Options for Temporary Power
Depending on the location of the project, you may find multiple companies that offer temporary power systems. If this is the case, consider calling and asking for a quote from each company. Be as detailed as possible about the power requirements while you’re getting your quote.
Remember that the least expensive quote isn’t the only factor when it comes to who you’ll work with. As you get your quote, ask other questions to ensure the company is reliable and readily available in case of an emergency.
4. Design Power Distribution System
Now is the time for your temporary power supplier to visit your worksite and design a power distribution system that suits your needs. While the supplier is on-site, ensure they have all the information they need to make informed decisions.
Your temporary power supplier may ask you the following questions during their visit:
- What’s the timeline of this project?
- When do you need power up and running?
- What time of day do you anticipate using the most power?
- What areas of the site need power outlets?
- What equipment will need temporary power?
Once they have all the information they need, the power supplier will map out and design the system. The supplier may require another site visit to verify and finalize the layout.
5. Conduct a Safety Training
Construction safety is of utmost importance at all times. When it comes to working with a temporary power supply, ensure all employees know how to provide a safe working environment for everyone.
Here are some safety guidelines for those working with or near temporary power:
- Keep all temporary power equipment clear of vehicle traffic.
- Inspect all cords and wiring regularly, if something looks off alert a supervisor.
- Ensure all equipment is secure and properly grounded
- Use a professional electrician — they are the only authorized person to set up or alter the system.
- Adhere OSHA requirements about temporary power.
6. Install Temporary Power
Once you finalize the system layout and prepared the site, your supplier’s team will install the system on-site. Depending on the size of the job, installation could take a few days.
The supplier should offer you the details of their timeline and expectations before they arrive for installation. Please make sure you and your team adhere to all of their rules during installation, as they are essential for everyone’s safety.
7. Final Inspection and Continuing Regular Maintenance
Once the temporary power system is installed on a construction site, there will be a final inspection by the authority who granted your permit. This inspection ensures compliance with local electrical codes and safety regulations. If you pass the inspection, the utility company will connect their transformer to a meter and officially turn on your temporary power supply.
Once you pass the final inspection, your team is safe to use the newly installed temporary power system. As you continue throughout your project an authorized employee of the power supplier will routinely visit to ensure everything runs smoothly. You and your team will continue to assess power usage, address any issues promptly and contact the supplier to make adjustments if needed.
What Happens at the End of the Project?
When permanent power infrastructure is ready, the construction site will switch over to the main grid. Once the power switches over, an electrical team will disconnect and remove the temporary power components from the site.
Other Temporary Power Source Options
While a temporary power service is the best option for large-scale and long-term construction projects, it’s not the only option for temporarily powering your construction site. If you have a project that doesn’t require power every day or have a shorter timeline, you may consider a more portable or simpler power source option.
Let’s look at three more temporary power sources that you can use in construction.
Generators come in various sizes and fuel types (diesel, gasoline, natural gas and propane) to cater to different power needs. Generators can provide a reliable and flexible power supply. They are widely popular because they are easily movable and don’t require special installation.
Best for: Short-term construction projects that require power supplies that you can easily move from one location to another.
Portable Solar Panels
Solar panels harness renewable energy from the sun and can provide temporary power on construction sites. You can combine solar panels with battery storage systems to ensure a continuous power supply, even during periods of low sunlight.
Best for: Construction projects that prioritize sustainability.
Temporary Power Box
A temporary power box, also known as a power spider box, is a portable electrical enclosure that provides temporary electrical power distribution on construction sites and other remote locations. It serves as a hub for connecting various electrical loads and distributing power safely and efficiently.
Best for: Construction projects where the power supply needs to be easily transported without frequent refueling.
Reliable temporary power for construction sites is just as important as the equipment you’re powering. With convenient online reservations and on-site equipment drop-off, you can rely on BigRentz to keep renting equipment simple. We have locations in all 50 states so the right equipment is never too far from you.
Browse and rent heavy equipment online with BigRentz today.