When electrical power is knocked out by a winter storm and you find yourself with no back-up power, there is a lot at risk. You’ll risk frozen pipes and possible water damage, spoiled freezer and refrigerator contents, no computer access. Also, you’ll have no power for loved ones who may be sick and use special medical equipment which requires electricity. This winter, you should consider an emergency generator to keep life running as smoothly as possible when bad weather strikes.
When choosing an emergency generator, many people opt for the portable variety. They are small, easily stored and maneuvered, and convenient for relatively short periods of use. These generators run on fuels such as gasoline, natural gas, and diesel. Gasoline is the most practical option, as diesel fuel is mainly used for commercial-sized generators and natural gas is more costly. However, natural gas does burn cleaner and can be stored for a longer period of time.
When choosing the best gasoline-fueled generator, look for one that can be plugged into the house’s electrical system. This is a safer model, but a transfer switch will need to be installed by a professional electrician. The installation of this switch is important because it allows the operation of appliances that do not have cords that plug in, such as a furnace or a hot water heater.
Choosing a portable generator with user-friendly features is also a plus. Who wants to deal with figuring out a complicated and difficult to use generator when life has already been complicated enough by such inclement weather? For example, a push start button is a better choice than a pull-rope starting feature.
A larger gas tank is also handy, as it will prevent you from needing to refill the generator so frequently. A five gallon gas tank will keep your generator running for 7-10 hours. A quiet motor is a necessity since most cities have a municipal requirement which does not allow noisy equipment to run continuously and disturb the neighbors.
Those who live in areas where winter weather is at its worst may choose to have an electrical contractor install a stationary, or stand-by generator at the home or workplace. This type of generator is the most dependable for long-term emergencies. The stationary generator provides continuous power because it is connected to an already existing fuel source, such as a gas line.
This option consists of either a simple push-button start-up, or an automatic start-up feature that enables the transfer switch to actually sense the power outage, isolate the designated emergency circuits from the grid, and then the machine is up and going. You do not have to be at home for this automatic function to work, and transfer time is usually only 10-30 seconds.
Permanent emergency generators also have higher power levels than their portable counterparts, ranging from about 5 kilowatts to hundreds of kilowatts in strength. While this version is more expensive and requires an electrician to install it, you will be increasing the value of your home by adding one.