Anyone who has lived in the Southeast knows the perils of severe weather. From brutal summer storms, remnants of coastal hurricanes, and tornadoes to winter snow and ice storms, we know to expect the unexpected. That means we know we should always be prepared for power outages that can last days or even weeks.
In the summer, you end up with kids climbing the walls from boredom and $500 of food spoiled in your fridge and freezer, while the possibility of an impending mold invasion, courtesy of the heat and humidity, haunts your thoughts. Winter isn’t much better. Your kids are still climbing the walls, you’re huddled under a pile of blankets, wearing five layers of clothing, and the fear of freezing pipes is all too real.
Is the thought of a power outage too much for you yet? Well, an emergency generator for home use might just be the solution that brings you peace of mind. There are a lot of options available on the market today, but not all generators are created equal.
What types of emergency generators for home use are there?
There are two types of generators, portable and permanent standby. Each type has benefits and drawbacks, so make an informed decision based on the location of your home and how much power you’ll need in the event of a power outage.
In order to decide which type of emergency generators for home use will best suit the needs of your family, consider which appliances are priorities. Powering the air conditioning or heating unit and the refrigerator are generally important. What can you live without for a few days or longer?
Once you decide which appliances you consider necessities, determine the wattage that’s necessary to run each appliance. Most appliances have the wattage on a sticker somewhere. If you can’t find it, contact the manufacturer to get the information. Once you know the wattage for each appliance, add up the numbers to get the total needed wattage. It’s very important that you calculate the wattage correctly. If too much is run through the generator, it can cause fire and/or electrocution.
Portable generators are the cheaper option; however, they generate less power than a permanent standby generator. Depending on the model, portables can generate between 2,500-4,500 watts. If you can get by with a minimum amount of power, then a portable generator can be a good option. By using energy wisely, you’ll still be able to comfortably endure a blackout.
Permanent standby generators are far more powerful. They have the ability to power your entire home for an extended period of time. Because of the utter amount of power that permanent standby generators are capable of providing, they are more expensive than portables. However, they are becoming more affordable. You will need a licensed electrician to install a permanent generator. Additionally, you must notify your local utility company if you have a back-up system installed. If you live in an area that consistently sees power outages, this type of generator may be a good option. It really is the best possible way to prepare for a power outage.
Portable Emergency Generators for Home Use
No doubt you’ve seen small generators being used at construction sites to power tools. These types of small portable generators can also be used for homes. They are a basic method of supplying power during an outage.
With portable home generators, you are only able to provide power to a limited number of appliances. Most portable generators for home use have two to four outlets, so you will need to determine which appliances are your priority during a power outage. For example, during the hot and humid summer months, you will want to maintain power to your air conditioning unit in order to prevent heat related illnesses as well as to prevent mold invading your home as a result of the damp and humid conditions.
You can store portable generators in your garage or basement, and haul it out as needed. In the event of a power outage, you will move the portable generator from storage to your yard, and run extension cords from the generator to your selected appliances. The extension cords must be at least 14 gauge in order to provide adequate power. Plus, you need to make sure to not exceed the maximum wattage of the cords. Thus, when evaluating which appliances you want to power during an outage, be sure to calculate the wattage of the appliances.
Portable generators run on gas, so carbon monoxide poison is a very real concern. (https://carbonmonoxide.com/2017/06/portable-generator-danger.html) Always place the portable generator at least 10 feet from your house. Never place it inside. When selecting an appropriate location, don’t place it in a garage or carport, and don’t place under and awning or anywhere near doors or windows. Always place the generator on a flat, well-ventilated surface with good drainage.
Because portable generators run on gas, you need to be certain that you have enough fuel to provide for a power outage, so consider how long a tank of gas will power your appliances and plan accordingly. Some run for only a few hours per tank, so depending on the generator that you purchase, you may have to get up in the middle of the night to refill the tank.
Permanent Standby Generators
Similarly to heating and air conditioning units, standby generators are permanently installed outside your home. Unlike portable generators, these permanent generators automatically turn on without you having to lift a finger. A transfer switch constantly monitors your power. In the event that you lose electricity for any reason, this switch starts the generator within seconds. You don’t even have to be home! Instead of running on gas, these generators are fueled by your home’s supply of natural gas or a propane tank that can be installed underground. As soon as power is restored, the transfer switch shuts off the generator and reruns your circuits to your local utility lines.
There are a lot of advantages to a permanent standby generators. You don’t have to deal with the hassle of extension cords or the hassle of set up and disconnection. You also don’t need to worry about fuel storage or running out of fuel before your electricity is restored. Plus, they are significantly quieter than portable generators. Additionally, most standby generators are powerful enough to run all of your large appliances simultaneously, including your central air conditioner unit, your electric water heater, and all of your large kitchen appliances.
Permanent Standby Generator Installation
You might think that a permanent generator for home use is just another large appliance that you can plop down in your basement and hook up to your electrical system. In truth, emergency home generator installation is a complicated technical process. Installation requires a certified licensed electrician. A permanent standby generator requires that a transfer switch panel is wired to your home, much like your regular circuit breaker. Additionally, you need a flat, load-bearing surface with adequate water drainage and ventilation. Some homes may need more work than others to responsibly install a This IS NOT a DIY project for a homeowner! To ensure safe and reliable installation do yourself a favor and find a trustworthy, experienced contractor.
Top 5 Emergency Home Generator Safety Tips
- Generators should always be placed outside and away from all windows and doors to ensure Carbon Monoxide doesn’t enter your home. More deaths occur from carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Never plug a generator into a wall outlet. Doing so can lead to a risk of electrocution. Non-portable generators must be properly connected to a transfer switch on your electrical service panel.
- Generators must be sized to accommodate the specific needs of your house. Incorrect installation or overloading a generator can lead to a risk of fire or electrocution.
- Keep fuel in a proper storage container that is labeled clearly. Store the fuel container on a high shelf where it is not accessible to pets or children.
- Having a generator professional installed by an electrician is always the safest way to go.
Do you have questions regarding installing an emergency in-home generator? Call out team of experts today!