What is the biggest difference between portable generators and a standby home generator system?

The biggest difference, of course, is that the portable unit can be moved to different locations, while the true standby system is permanently installed on a fixed concrete slab.  Additionally, portable generators must be started by hand or switch before power can begin to flow, while the standby system will turn on automatically.

Portable units must be hooked up to your inlet box and standby systems are permanently installed via a transfer switch into your circuit breaker panel.

When utility power is restored the standby will automatically shut down, while the portable must be manually turned off and moved back into its place of storage.

Another advantage of the best type of standby generator is that the unit can be set to automatically perform a diagnostic test to ensure that proper maintenance is always up to date.

What amount of generator backup power do I need to run my home appliances during a power outage?

Homes of from 1200 to 3000 sq. ft. can typically run critical electrical items by using a 5000-7000 watt generator. The most common items that need emergency power during a blackout would be the furnace motor, frig, freezer, lights, television, sump pump and water pumps.

Larger systems of about 10,000 to 15,000 watts will supply enough juice to run most air conditioners.

Just make certain the initial surge requirements are taken into consideration when you buy the appropriate size for your home backup power.

I use a computer to operate my home business. Can I still use it during a power outage, if I have a home power generator

Power from a backup source is just as safe as what you normally have coming out of the wall socket. The spikes or surges that accompany power generation are a normal aspect of electricity.

Nevertheless, make sure you use a good quality surge protector to guard against small influxes of power distortion.

Does the start-up of an engine or motor require a different wattage?

As mentioned above, many engine startups take an extra large amount of amperage for their initial start-up. Some appliances and tools, such as the refrigerator or freezer, furnace fan, air conditioner, electric chain saw, weed trimmer, etc. will soak up more watts than normal when you initiate the startup.

Therefore, don’t buy your home electrical generators without taking into account the surge requirement rather than just the normal running wattage.

My neighbor tells me to get a transfer switch. What is that exactly?

A transfer switch is a device that is fed by both utility and generator power. It isolates the two types of power from each other so a back feed does not occur. National Electrical Code requires a device like this if two types of power are going to feed the house.

Always get a qualified electrician to install your transfer switch.  The potential danger to workers and neighbors from back-feed is great when utility power is restored unless your transfer switch functions properly.

Since the portable backup generator can be moved from location to location, are there any restrictions?

Yes, do not place the generator too close to any place where humans or animals will be congregating.  These units produce carbon monoxide gas, which can be deadly.  Also, never run a generator inside your home or garage.

Remember, these have combustible engines and use gasoline and oil, so make sure to always provide plenty of ventilation.