An aging electric grid combined with powerful summer storms can cause many homeowners to fear extended power outages. However, backup generators are available that will safely supply power to a few essential appliances or an entire home.
The type of generator that you choose will depend on your needs, access to a natural gas line, and the amount that you can spend.
Different types of backup generators include:
This type of generator is the most commonly used, and is usually powered by gasoline. They are useful for powering essential appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, and perhaps a television, but cannot be used to supply power beyond their limited capacity.
The major advantage of portable generators is their cost. They are priced in hundreds of dollars depending upon the model, while stationary generators will cost thousands because of their price and the cost of installation, which must be done by professionals.
If you intend to use a portable generator, you should purchase it before an outage happens. When extended outages occur, portable generators are often difficult to find in stores.
Safety gas cans and gas should also be purchased and stored in a safe location, away from heat. When power outages occur, gas stations in the area may also be affected.
This type of generator is permanently connected to your home's electrical system. They are typically powered by natural gas or propane, depending on which fuel is most readily available in your area. Many stationary home generators can use both fuels, which provides an additional layer of security if natural gas lines are compromised during a severe storm.
The beauty of stationary generators lies in the transfer switch, which automatically senses when power is lost and immediately activates the generator. This also frees the homeowner from constantly refilling a portable generator with fuel if continuous use is required.
What type of stationary generator should you buy?
Stationary whole house generators are rated by how much power that they can supply. The largest whole house generators can produce enough power to replace the output of your entire electrical system. Of course, this is the most expensive option.
Whole house generators are also available in smaller models, with outputs that should satisfy the needs of most households on a temporary basis.
Transfer switches are often sold separately, but may be bought as part of a package. They must be installed directly into your electrical system by a qualified electrician. Connection to natural gas lines or propane tanks must also be performed by professionals (such as Genesis Electrical Service Inc.), so be sure to consider these costs when determining what type of generator you can afford.