A basic guide to generators is an important first step toward overall emergency preparedness. Services are one of the first necessities jeopardized during a storm. While it is an overwhelming thought, it is always better to be prepared for such an event.
Reasons to Invest
There are many reasons to invest in a generator, but weather-related emergencies may be number one. Some home owners have begun off grid living, while others simply want to save money. Many DIYers buy generators for home building and improvement projects.
Consult a basic guide to generators to choose the best equipment. The decision should be based upon the specific home and area vulnerabilities. Weather is most often the cause of power outages, but not always.
Natural disasters and weather-related emergencies often strike when you least expect it. The EIA report shows that severe weather can cause of power outages which last from a couple of hours to several days. The longest running blackout in the review was more than 5 days (1).
This does not include those which are still ongoing. Depending upon the location and terrain power outages can last much longer. A generator is a vital emergency preparedness investment.
Household electrical emergencies can happen without warning. Home wiring and electric company equipment can fail unexpectedly. It could be hours or days before repairs are complete, especially true in rural areas.
Trees do not always fall during a storm. Vegetation may not affect the main power lines of household wiring until months after it has passed. In all cases, homes can suddenly be without power for an indeterminate amount of time.
Generator Investment Considerations
There are several elements to consider before investing in a generator. The first, of course, is finances. A basic guide to generators and a firm budget can significantly smooth the process.
Determine exactly what will be powered by the generator. A stove and refrigerator are common, but necessary appliances in emergency situations. The generator will need to support all vital equipment.
For example, portable generators can maintain basic household appliances. Those referred to as standby can pretty much power the entire home. It should suit the specific situation.
Homes designed with wells, sump pumps, and large, electric heating systems are more efficiently powered by a standby generator. Portables that do provide enough energy for them require certified extension cords.
Vital home medical equipment is a key consideration when choosing a backup generator. Chair lifts may be required for patient mobility during long-term blackouts. Oxygen concentrators must also be powered during power outages.
Three Basic Options
There are three standard types of generators available on the market today. A basic guide to generators can provide guidance in determining the differences between them. It is important to choose the most cost-effective option for each individual situation.
Automatic standby generators are considered a permanent protection solution. Portable generators are more of a quick fix, but work just fine, if necessary. The transportable type is especially popular with DIYers for home building and home improvement.
Inverter generators are most commonly purchased for camping and by preppers. They produce smoother energy than the other types and offer more control over fuel usage.
Temporary vs Permanent Protection
There are a few other key differences between standby and portable generators. As mentioned above, this is an important investment. All the elements should be weighed before committing to any purchase.
Standby generators are installed much like an outside air conditioning unit. They run somewhat quieter than portables as the motor is housed. Portables emit a greater amount of both heat and noise.
Portable generators must be manually started as well as turned off. Standbys automatically kick in when the power goes down. The latter may be better for those who frequently travel for business.
Auto-start generators utilize installed natural gas or liquid propane lines for continual refueling. Portables are designed with gas tanks which must be hand filled. Safe fuel storage should also be considered for transportable generators.
Portables are generally employed for DIY projects, camping, and temporary emergency fixes. Automatic generators are a more permanent type of power outage protection. It is always better to at least have one or the other in the event of an emergency.
Traditional, fossil fuel generator technology is extremely basic and has been around for quite a while. An alternator is powered by a gas engine to generate AC power. This type of machine has an on and an off mode only.
Conventional generators have undergone some technical evolution. Today, there are inverter generators for smoother flowing power. This type converts the generated AC power to DC current then inverts it back to AC.
Conventional generators produce power which fluctuates. Inverter technology is utilized to smooth the power flow and reduce distortion. They are designed with an inverter alternator and can be operated at full capacity, half, or less depending on how much power is required.
Using an inverter generator can be more cost effective because it offers more control over energy production. Fuel to operate the generator should be figured into the overall investment.
Generators: Key Points
Fossil fueled generators offer a steady, backup source of energy. Three basic options are available.
Those referred to as camping generators are lightweight, compact and typically 1,000 to 2,000 watts. They are generally used for recreation and certain types of medical support equipment. Fuel usage is less than 1 gallon and runtime is about 12 hours.
Portable generators can range from 3,000 to 10,000 watts. They may be used to power home lighting and necessary appliances such as refrigerators. Portables are generally designed with a 4-gallon fuel tank which provides power for around 7 hours.
Larger, standby generators auto-start immediately upon blackouts and are available between 7,000 to 40,000 watts. High end models can provide enough energy to power an entire home. This power source is continuous unless the fuel line is jeopardized.
Inverter generators provide a two-step type of energy. Typical models are about 2,000 watts offer efficient control over energy flow. Inverter generators are equipped with around a 1-gallon fuel tank, but generally provide just over 10 hours of energy.
A basic guide to generators is the first step toward a vital home investment. All options and considerations should be weighed while evaluating its cost. Performing research on the internet as well as consulting a qualified professional are strongly recommended.