A home generator is a valuable investment that can provide a sense of safety and comfort during power outages. Whether you live in an area prone to severe weather conditions or occasional power interruptions, having a reliable home generator can make your life easier. This guide will help you navigate the key factors to consider when purchasing a home generator.
Understanding Home Generators
Home generators come in different sizes and capabilities designed to meet specific energy needs. Portable generators are small, easily movable units that can power essential household items such as a refrigerator, freezer, computer, or lighting during an outage. Standby generators are large stationary units installed on the property that can automatically turn on when there’s a power interruption, providing electricity for the entire home.
Home generators usually run on gasoline, propane, diesel fuel, or natural gas. Consider the fuel type based on availability and accessibility in your area. Gasoline is readily available but may not be practical during a disaster or prolonged outage due to its short shelf life and storage constraints. Diesel fuel is stable and provides more energy per gallon but may not be suitable for residential areas due to noise and emissions concerns. Natural gas and propane are clean-burning fuels that can be connected to existing utility lines for efficient operation.
Your generator’s power output should match your household’s energy needs during an outage. To determine this, calculate the total wattage of essential appliances you plan to run simultaneously. Portable generators typically offer between 3,000 to 9,000 watts while standby units provide up to 20,000 watts or more. Choose a generator with slightly more capacity than your calculations to ensure adequate performance.
When comparing generators, pay attention to their run times at 50% capacity. A longer run time means fewer refueling intervals and more continuous power supply during outages. Portable generators tend to have a shorter run time as they are designed for occasional use, while standby generators have extended run times for long-lasting power.
Modern home generators come with several safety features that protect the unit and its users. Look for features such as automatic shut-down in case of overheating or low oil levels, a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to prevent electrical accidents, and low-tone mufflers that reduce noise pollution.
Automatic Transfer Switch
A crucial component of the standby generator setup is the automatic transfer switch (ATS). It monitors your utility power supply and automatically transfers the load to the generator in the event of a power outage. Once utility power is restored, the ATS will switch back and shut down the generator. Choose an ATS with an appropriate amperage rating for your needs.
Whether you decide on a portable or standby generator, considering these factors will help you find the ideal home generator for your needs. Preparing for uncertain times with a reliable power source not only gives you peace of mind but also ensures that your family stays safe and comfortable even during unexpected outages.