Apr 10

Standby Generators Are An Excellent Backup For An Emergency


Image courtesy of Keerati at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Keerati at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


All it takes is once, and you know the benefits of a standby or backup generator. When the power gets knocked out by a big storm or natural disaster, you really don’t know when it will be restored, so playing the role of the boy scout and being prepared may be the way to go.

A backup or standby generator will get you through the outage without worry of your freezer contents perishing and keeping you comfortable, regardless of the extreme weather outside. If you have never experienced power outages for more than a few minutes, you probably think that it is not worth taking the precautions. If you ever have lived without power for more than a week, you might be considering a backup for the backup generator! The normal availability of electricity in this country has made its residents take it for granted and not fully comprehend a serious situation until it goes out.

Not all generators are made equally. Some turn on and off automatically when the power is first lost and then when it is restored. You can choose to run the whole house or just parts of it. Consider whether or not you want the furnace running, the lights on in all the rooms, the fridge and freezer, hairdryers, water heaters, the surround sound stereo and the big TVs located throughout the house.

The more appliances you run, the bigger the generator needs to be.

It may be a wise choice to set up the generator to be able to run portions of the house at a flip of a switch. This way, when the power is out for a long time, you can still have your conveniences at least part time, without using hundreds of gallons of gas or diesel to power sections that are not always in use.

It is highly recommended to do some research. Learn what wattage, voltage and amps are. Then, calculate your energy needs. Walk through the house and take a look at all your appliances and anything else that uses electricity to work. Make a note of how much each item uses and total it up. Generally, a household needs about 7,000 watts (7 kw) for an average 2,000 square foot home.

Remember, if you are going to use about 7,000 watts, you want a unit to be able to generate about 8,000 watts. Always have one that is more than you have estimated you will need.

Check The System Before It Is Needed
Believe it or not, some folks will install something without checking to make sure it works prior to its being needed. One common instance of this is for a backup generator. Okay, you now have it, but you cannot forget about it. Turn off all the electricity to your home and then switch on the generator. Try out different scenarios, whether or not the HVAC system is on, watching television and running a small heater instead of the furnace. Trial and error now is necessary, so you won’t be scratching your head in confusion at the time the real deal happens. It is also good to run it an hour or so every few months, or whatever the recommendations are from the manufacturer. Motors do not like to sit idle for large periods of time, unless they have been specifically made that way.

Fuel Types
There are four types of fuel for a standby generator. As with most things in life, there are advantages some have over others, as well as disadvantages. Read through them thoroughly before making a decision. That will be the first step in choosing which type of generator to buy, as you cannot burn any other fuel than for which the unit is rated.

The advantages include being able to buy it at nearly any gas station. It is also the least flammable of the four choices. And, there is a good chance you can have it delivered in your area. Check with businesses in your area.

The disadvantages include a pretty short shelf life, as it can be stored for no more than 24 months, and you probably really want it about half that time. If you were to install a large tank for this, it would be pretty costly. And, during a power outage, chances are, it would be unavailable, as most gas stations would be powered down, as well.

The advantages here include the long shelf life, which means it can be stored for a long time. It is pretty clean when burning. You can store in a large container and have the propane delivered, or you can buy it in containers as small as five gallons. You may also be able to buy this during a power outage, be sure to check with your local supplier.

The disadvantages include having a big pressurized cylinder of gas that is highly flammable. The system is more complicated than gas or diesel and there is a bigger chance it will fail. And, the large tanks can be unsightly, if that is a factor for you.

The advantages here include its ability to be acquired at any gas station. And, nearly any size generator will use this as a fuel, large and small.

Naturally, it is highly flammable, adding to the disadvantages. Also, it is recommended to be stored for less than a year, and in small quantities. In large containers, it can be rather dangerous. It might not be available for purchase when the power goes out.

Natural Gas
One great advantage is receiving this through lines coming from the distributor. You would not need to store it at all, and it would still be available during a power outage. It also burns fairly cleanly.

One great disadvantage would be its advantage: since it is available through gas lines, you would not need to store it. So if it is an earthquake causing your power outage, then you might have no fuel, as natural gas may be unavailable during natural disasters. Plus, the power output is reduced when using natural gas – about 30 percent less BTUs are produced per unit than that of gasoline. The installation is also more expensive for this type, than others. Availability is greatly reduced for this type. Be sure to check with local businesses prior to deciding on this type of fuel.

Image courtesy of Keerati at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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