Backup Power with a Home Generator: Things You Should Know

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Generator2000wattWe are so accustomed to our way of life that it can be a real hardship to lose power at home. Many businesses have installed permanent back-up generators so they may continue operating even during a power outage. Homeowners that have experienced an extended power outage may wish to invest in a permanently installed back-up power generator or keep a portable on hand just in case.

During a power outage, people need a source of energy to power appliances or heat sources important to run their household. Generators can be big enough to power just the furnace and/or refrigerator or large enough to power the entire household.

There is no way to predict when you may experience a power outage or how long it will last. Be prepared and decide on what type of generator you may need and have it on hand or in the case of a permanent back-up generator, have it installed and ready to start up when it is needed.

There are two types of generators the average homeowner may use.

1. Portable generator- This is the most economical generator capable of supplying back-up energy. Portable generators are the most commonly used in homes or households. Appliances may be plugged into appropriate UL listed extension cords and plugged directly into the generator.

These generators may be stopped or started at the discretion of the homeowner to save on the energy needed to operate the generator. Most portable generators are gasoline operated but some of the larger models run on diesel fuel.

CAUTION—– DO NOT use run this type of generator inside your home or in a location such as a closed garage where the combustion fumes can leak back into the home. Combustion produces carbon monoxide and it could be fatal!

Portable generators may vary on the volt specification you need. They are available with 120 up to 240 volt capability.

One draw-back to a portable generator is the length of time it can run. Periodically they will have to be shut down to refill the fuel tank. If this would be inconvenient a permanent generator might be a better choice for you.

2. Permanent generators- Permanent generators are programmable to turn on automatically within a specified time after power loss to the home or business. These generators are connected into the wiring system of the house. It will start on its even if no one is present in the house during black out. Once power is restored it will shut down on its’ own.

Permanent generators are powered by natural or propane gases. If you are currently using natural or propane appliances, the contractor installing the generator can simply connect to your existing supply.

Your choice in size and capability of permanent generators will depend on how large your house is, the number of appliances or lights you will be using, and your heating or cooling system.

Permanent generators are capable of running your entire house and tend to be more expensive than a portable generator. The initial money spent will be worth it if you ever need to rely on the back up energy it will provide.

Generators can be hazardous

Portable generators are more hazardous than permanent generators because they are small and have a combustion engine that produces carbon monoxide. People tend to think they can set them in the garage with only a small crack where the cord comes into the house and they will be safe. Carbon monoxide is a gas and if air can leak in so can the carbon monoxide.

Use these generators only in a well ventilated location. If you run it in the garage, place it close to the garage door and open the garage door at least a foot making sure the exhaust if venting towards the opening.

Running a portable generator for a long period of time can lead to overheating problems. Shut the generator down periodically so that it may cool to prevent such problems and avoid damage to the generator.

There are many things to consider when you are in the process of buying a back-up power system for your home. It will be a wise investment and could even improve the resale value of your home. Determine your needs, research what will work best for you and then purchase the right equipment.

If you choose a permanent generator, choose a properly trained technician to install it for you. This will ensure your safety from carbon monoxide poisoning, fire from electrical shorts, or damage to your home wiring system if it is installed incorrectly.

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