No matter where you live, a power outage is a possibility and concern. When the power goes out for an extended period, your home loses the ability to control its indoor climate. Damage can result from frozen pipes, flooded basements, and mold from heat and high humidity. Food spoils in refrigerators and freezers and if the house is freezing or too hot, you may have to find shelter outside your home.
Generators for home use can provide power during an outage and keep your house safe and comfortable. A wide range of choices and options are available and there are generators to fit your budget and circumstances.
Standby or Portable?
Standby generators are permanent installations. They power your home’s electrical system though an automatic transfer switch, start and operate automatically, and run on either LP gas stored in a tank, or connect directly to your home’s natural gas supply. Air cooled models ranging from 7 kilowatts to 20 kilowatts are available, depending on your needs and the amount of power you need in an emergency. Liquid cooled models are capable of supplying even more power to keep the largest homes running at full electrical capacity.
A portable generator is not permanently connected. You can take it wherever you need it to provide power in emergencies or for convenience. For emergency power, they connect directly to appliances and lighting with extension cords, or through a manual transfer switch which powers select, emergency circuits only. These generators are available in a wide range of power capabilities beginning at 800 watts up to 20 kilowatts. Most portable models run on gasoline, but tri-fuel generators are capable of using gasoline, LP gas, and natural gas. Other options include diesel and LP-powered portables.
Choosing a Generator
Your choice of which generator to buy will depend primarily on three things; how much power you need, what you can afford, and whether you need automatic operation or not.
Automatic operation is all about convenience and reliability. You don’t have to worry about locating fuel to buy during an outage and the unit starts and runs automatically and keeps your critical circuits running even if you are away from home on vacation. You won’t return to find the basement flooded, the food in the refrigerator spoiled, or frozen pipes in the winter. The peace of mind a standby generator offers is well worth the cost of the unit and installation.
For homeowners that are rarely out of town or rarely experience power outages, a portable generator may be the right choice. In order to power permanently installed appliances like central air conditioners and furnaces, well pumps and light fixtures, a manual transfer switch that connects to the generator with a heavy duty supply cable is required.
Determining how much power you absolutely need, and how much extra power you want is a matter of adding up the power use of each item in your home and then deciding what is critical and what isn’t. Norwall Power Systems offers generator sizing guides for portable, commercial and standby generators to help you determine what size generator to buy.
Keeping the Lights On
It is easy enough to live through a short-term power interruption, but longer outages are more than an inconvenience. Whether or not you will experience an extended outage that lasts a day, week or even a month is more a question of when, than if it will happen. Be prepared with either a standby or portable generator, and when the power does go out, you’ll have less to worry about.