Generators come in two basic types: standby and portable. The source of backup power you ultimately choose will be determined by many factors, including your power requirements.
A standby generator is permanently installed outside your home or commercial building and wired directly into the electrical system to provide power to some or all of your home’s circuits during a disruption of normal utility power. Depending on the model, they may start automatically when the power goes out and stop when the power returns. Standby generators are fueled by liquid propane or natural gas and require professional installation, often with a permit.
The number of circuits to which a standby generator can provide power–and the number of appliances you can run on those circuits–is determined by the power capacity of the generator.
Standby generators are typically fully enclosed and vary in size. Check the dimensions carefully. A standby model may cost as little as $1,500 or as much as $15,000 or more–the greater the power capacity, the higher the cost.
Standby generators create from 5,000 to 25,000 watts or more of power. You’ll have to choose a generator that supplies sufficient peak and continuous wattage for the appliances on the circuits you need to power. You can choose between an air-cooled and a liquid-cooled model standby generator. Generally, liquid-cooled models are bigger and create more power.
Portable generators are versatile. You can use them for emergency power at home, for power in remote locations where utility power is unavailable, or for recreational purposes, like boating or camping.
Portable generators are fueled by gasoline and include 120-volt power outlets like the ones in the walls of your home. When the generator is running, you can plug appliances and tools directly into these outlets. Some generators also include 120/240 or 240-volt outlets. These are especially useful for running powering into a transfer switch.
Portable generators range in cost between a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars depending on the capacity and features.
A small 1,000-watt portable generator may be all you need for recreational purposes. And you may use up to 8,000 watts if using a generator to power tools on the jobsite. Because you plug appliances directly into a portable generator, you’ll also want to make sure that your model has the number and type of outlets you need. The size of the fuel tank also is crucial. The bigger the tank, the longer your generator can run without refilling and produce power. If you want to use a portable generator to power specific circuits in your house, a transfer switch is required. For running an entire house, follow the guidelines for choosing a standby generator.
If you want to use your generator to power part or all of your home, you’ll need a sufficiently sized generator and a transfer switch. The transfer switch safely closes off the utility power line to your house’s electrical system and opens a direct line to the generator and reverses the process when utility power is restored.
Standby models can work either with a manual or an automatic transfer switch. The benefit of an automatic transfer switch is that it senses when utility power has been lost and automatically switches to generator power.
Every home should have a backup power source a generator is a great choice. Backup power is very important if you have family or friend s with health problems so they can run equipment like dialis machines and respirators. If you have a home with a well you will need the generator to power the pump. This is a great purchase for any pepper, survivalist or home owner.