Last winter was one many from the Northeast United States will likely never forget. A slow-moving storm front pounded the entire region bringing record snowfall, rain, sleet, and winds that raged at hurricane velocities. National news reported more than one million residents were without power due to that storm. Many lost family and friends. Nothing will replace the losses but this catastrophe shows us just how important having a back-up source of power really is. In this article I will address some of the questions most often asked regarding the purchase of a home standby generator.
Purchasing a generator for home or business can seem like a daunting task. The first question for most is where do you begin? Purchasing the right generator for your needs depends on how you answer questions specific to your home or business type; square footage, number of rooms, appliances or equipment, basically anything needing power you must have to survive or continue normal business. Here's a couple of our most frequently asked questions when it comes to selecting a generator.
1. What size and type generator do I need?
Generators come in a variety of wattage ratings and selecting the right is one of the most important decisions that you will make. Most people want the essentials available during a power outage. Things like heat or fans, the ability to keep food cold and fresh, and perhaps some space for everyone to use that has electricity available. Then there are those folks who don't want to miss a beat and insist that every single electrical circuit in their home is available.
To come up with a working wattage number, which is crucial in picking the right generator, you are going to have to do some leg work. Take a pencil and paper and go through the home and list every item you want available to use. Every electrical item in your home has a rating in watts. Write them down. One important thing to remember while doing this is some of your major appliances have two different wattage ratings; one for start-up and one for normal operation. Heaters and air conditioners for example need a lot of wattage during initial start-up. So you will need to take into account those higher start-up wattages on any appliances that list them. In your final calculation you will have to use the higher start-up ratings because every generator has a maximum rating. Exceed this and the generator may automatically shut down or even worse get damaged.
The type of generator you choose depends on whether you want to burn gasoline or propane. It depends on where you live and what's available. In most areas both are readily available so it may be wise to purchase a generator that can burn both types of fuel. One manufacturer, Generac, has a number of generators that burn both and have outputs up to 20,000 Kilowatts.
2. What is Automatic Standby and how does it work?
An automatic standby system is simply a generator and a transfer switch that uses solid state circuitry to monitor the electrical supply to the home. The transfer switch and the generator work in tandem. The transfer switch is always on and keeps check on the normal power coming into the home. If for some reason normal power is interrupted for more than a few seconds the transfer switch recognizes this, starts the power- up sequence for the generator, and once standby power has reached acceptable levels the normal power line is disconnected and power from the generator is applied. The convenience of this system speaks for itself. Lose power while at home or away and you will not be without power. There's really no price you can put on this peace of mind.
Keep in mind that one size does not fit all. Each situation has its own requirements and safety concerns. We suggest you work with a certified generator specialist who will listen to your concerns and needs to help you to make the right generator selection.