Home Generators: What You Need to Know
Major power outages are inconvenient, annoying, and sometimes dangerous - particularly during hurricane season in Port St. Lucie. While no electricity for 15 minutes can be a minor annoyance, if you've ever lost power for an extended time, you realize that you're in a dangerous, possibly life-threatening situation.
Having a home backup generator is an essential investment as a homeowner, but navigating through the various options can be confusing, and it's certainly not a decision you want to make in a panic in anticipation of a major storm.
Here is everything you need to know about buying the right home generator so that when inclement weather hits, you can keep the lights on.
Choosing Between Standby & Portable Generators
While there are plenty of options for generators out there, and brands too, with Honda and Generac generators as options, when it comes down to it, your main deciding factors are standby or portable.
As the name suggests, portable generators can be moved and transported more easily, but they can only power designated zones or appliances in your home.
Also, because they run on gasoline, you'll need to safely store an adequate supply of gas and be sure to properly maintain the unit to avoid damaging it when it's not in use.
And because of that gas, they shouldn't be operated within 20 feet of your home due to the risk of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. This limits your options during possible emergencies.
Whole-home generators are larger and typically produce more power than portable generators, and are tied directly into your home's power grid.
Most importantly, they're automatically activated in the event of a power outage, which ensures you always have electricity even during a storm, adding serious value to your home as well.
They're called "whole-home" generators because, as the name suggests, they provide enough power to supply your entire home, instead of having to determine and designate certain zones.
These are ideal for homeowners that can't risk an interruption in the electricity supply in their home under any circumstances. For example, people who are on ventilators or those who depend on medication that must be refrigerated will especially benefit from standby generators.
Also, unlike portable units, whole-home generators can be powered by propane or natural gas. This allows you to easily integrate them into your home's utilities and eliminating the need to stock up on gas, which can be tough after a storm.
Determining the Right Size
So, you may be asking yourself now, “what size whole home generator do I need?” A generator's output is measured in wattage, and determining the right size for your home is an integral part of the selection process. While you don't want to purchase a generator that's too small getting one that’s too large is also a problem.
So, what are your options?
It all starts by making a list of the wattage used by every appliance in your home and choosing the ones you plan on running in the event of a power outage. Remember to include essentials like your refrigerator, HVAC system, and miscellaneous electronics like your TVs and laptops.
Determine the "starting wattage" for each appliance by multiplying the running wattage by three. Add up the starting wattage for each appliance, and the total number is the wattage requirement you need to use as a minimum standard when selecting a generator.
If you're not feeling confident, your best bet is always to consult with a professional electrician who can help you make the correct selection.
The Installation Process
Whole-home or standby generators must be installed by licensed electricians with the requisite knowledge and expertise to get the job done right. This will give you peace of mind when you need it most.
The installation process generally includes preparing the outside area where the unit will reside, installing all the natural gas lines needed to power your new generator, and then integrating that system into your home's power grid with a transfer switch. This allows your home to "switch" to the generator in the event of a power outage.
Poorly installed generators can be hazardous. They can damage your home's electrical system - from the wiring to the appliances - and can even pose a fire risk. It's never worth it to risk putting your home, your life, and the lives of others in a dangerous situation.
Luckily, for homeowners in and around the Port St. Lucie area, Elite Electric & Air is here to help. From choosing the right generator for your budget and needs to expert installation, you can call us at (772) 905-3527 for a stress-free experience this hurricane season.