Our dependency on energy has led us to require it virtually everywhere we go. Because of this dependence, the second a power failure occurs, we panic. This is a reasonable response because our lives are centered around electricity.
An article in Energy Source And Distribution reports that power outages are on the rise in every state in ANZ. Some of us can’t afford to be without power for more than a few minutes at a time for various reasons.
Fortunately, there are generators to help us carry on with our normal daily routines when our source of energy becomes temporarily unavailable. If you have never purchased a home generator before, don’t just run out and buy one without considering a few things.
For such a large purchase, you should be sure you’re getting one that’s perfect for your family’s needs.
1. Determine The Amount Of Power You’ll Need.
Today, our homes are filled with energy sucking devices, some requiring much more than others. What’s important is determining which ones you plan to run in the event of a power outage. This shouldn’t be a task that’s rushed. Take the time to survey your home and make of list of must-have appliances, being sure to jot down the wattage or voltage on each item. The U.S. Department Of Energy has a handy search tool to help you determine the wattage of items in your home.
Once you have compiled your list, add up the wattage or voltage of each item and then multiply by one and a half to account for the extra boost needed for some items to start up.
You’ll also need to know if you want your generator to fire up the whole panel or just a select area of your home. If the latter is true, consider hiring an electrician to create a new panel with just the emergency areas.
2. Decide Which Type Of Generator You Will Buy.
When it comes to generators, you have two options: standby and portable. A standby generator is a large investment but can handle heavier loads. However, a portable generator is quite convenient in itself.
Costing between $2,000 and $15,000, this type uses natural gas and switches on within seconds of a power outage. Standby generators come with a signaling system that powers off with an outage and then on when power is restored.
Depending on the wattage, these generators are capable of running large devices like stoves, refrigerators, washers and dryers. They’ve also evolved to become more quieter than portable generators.
Less expensive than standby generators, portable generators cost between $500 and $2,000.
Simply plug in the appliance that you want to power using extension cords. A cord is needed because these devices have to be kept at least 20 ft from your home to avoid fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Although the use seems simple, there is a limit to how many items you can plug in.
3. You May Need To Find A Licensed Electrician.
While there’s usually no need to actually install a portable generator, that’s not the case with a standby. The combination of complex design and dangerous electrical surges certainly calls for a professional.
Separate from the actual generator equipment is the transfer switch, which also has to be installed by a professional. This switch is connected to multiple power sources, and allows you to alternate between the two either manually or automatically. While standby generators require one in order to switch between each source of power, it’s optional with a portable generator.
So, prepare to spend money not just on the generator itself if you opt for a standby. Make sure the electrician you choose is licensed and offers a reasonable price.
4. Decide Which Type Of Fuel You’ll Use.
This is another factor that depends on which type of generator you choose to buy. Most portable generators use unleaded gasoline, natural gas, diesel or propane. It’s more common to use gasoline since it’s more readily available. Some generators allow you to use three different types of fuel, making them quite convenient.
As for standby generators, you can draw from a few sources, based on cost and what’s available. While unleaded gas seems more convenient, it has lower stability. On the other hand, propane, diesel and natural gas may be more expensive. Many homeowners prefer natural gas and propane since there’s no need to refill.
5. Consider The Location Of Your Generator.
Before your purchase, make sure you have a suitable space for your new generator. Both portable and standby generators require the safest location possible. Because portable generators produce carbon monoxide, they must be operated in an open space rather than indoors. The Queensland Government Electrical Safety Office recommends that CO detectors be installed if you have a generator.
It’s also recommended that standby generators are operated outdoors, but they are sometimes installed indoors, and their location must comply with local building codes. For instance, ventilation, proximity to combustibles and noise ordinances all apply.
6. Think About Required Maintenance.
Just like any large mechanical purchase, there’s bound to be a malfunction with age and use. To avoid these situations, you should make sure it has routine maintenance service. Whether you pay an electrician out of pocket or pay for some kind of insurance plan, caring for your equipment goes a long way.
7. Familiarize Yourself With The Warranty.
If you’re set on a particular generator, make sure the manufacturer offers a reasonable warranty before you purchase it. Typical warranties last between one and five years. Opt for a five year warranty that offers replacements and service in the event of a mechanical failure.
It’s true that generators make life easier in the event of a power outage. However, to get the best usage out of your generator, consider the above facts before making your purchase. Once you decide which type is right for you, reach out to Generator Place. Representatives are available to help you find the right system for your needs.