What do you do when the lights go out and the refrigerator stops running? If you’re prepared, you roll out your portable generator and crank it up… or you sit back for a few seconds and wait until your home standby generator kicks in. No sweat!
Power failures can make you feel helpless and a little bit mad… especially when you’ve just returned from the grocery store and loaded up the frig for next week’s meal preparations. With proper planning, this doesn’t have to happen to you.
Buying an emergency power generator for your home is relatively simple if you first determine the proper size generator for your specific needs. For example, is it really necessary to power your entire residence during brief power outages, or can you get by with only a few appliances such as lighting and refrigeration?
There are basically two types of home or emergency power generators. One is a portable generator, which as its name suggests is portable and can be moved from place to place. The other is a home standby generator which is installed outside of your home similar to central air conditioning equipment.
Portable generators are temporarily connected to your home’s electrical system through a manually operated transfer switch and it is manually started when a power failure occurs. A capacity of 6,000 watts is most common for this type of application.
The standby generator is permanently installed outside and is connected to the house electrical system through an automatically operated transfer switch. It is always connected and ready for immediate use should a power interruption occur. When it senses a power failure, it will automatically start the generator and transfer your electrical system to the generator’s emergency power. Then, it automatically transfers back to utility power when your normal service is restored.
Emergency power generators come with a variety of fuel sources to include diesel, gasoline, propane and natural gas. Each has its own unique characteristic such as lubrication, noise, availability and maintenance. Tri-fuel portable generators give you the option of using gasoline, liquid propane or natural gas.
In our opinion, the best combination would include a properly sized permanently installed home standby generator that is fueled with either LPG or natural gas… depending on availability in your neighborhood.
Portable gas generator models are generally affordable for the average situation. For example, a highly rated 5500 Watt emergency power unit is available for less than $600. This would be sufficient to power up a typical household’s appliances with the exception of central air or a heat pump, which require an enormous amount of juice to operate… especially during start-up surges.