Key tips on purchasing a generator suitable for your needs.
May 23, 2019
When a blackout happens, a generator can help regulate the temperature in your house, making them essential equipment for home and business owners in order to keep families comfortable or to ensure that business operations continue.
Sadly, people usually buy generators during major storms, thus being unable to properly select a suitable generator. Follow the tips below to get the best generator for your needs so you won’t waste your money purchasing one you cannot use.
1. Know your needs when it comes to power output.
Generators are sold based on their power output. The amount of power (watts) they provide will determine how many appliances and lights they can run simultaneously. The consistency and quality of the power produced will determine how well these appliances will run.
You can try about 5,000 watts minimum to cover necessities. Then, think about which lights or appliances you can’t live without while the power is out. After which, add the amount of watts to the minimum number (5,000) that was allotted previously. It is best to check the appliances’ manufacturer’s brochure to ensure that you’ve got the watts correctly. Below are rough numbers for essentials within the house:
2. Know the type of generator suited to your needs.
When your electricity supplier fails during storms, you will need a generator to power your appliances. Selecting the right generator means you need to know the different options you can choose from. Standby generators around the house are permanently installed, automatically kicking in during outages. On the other hand, inverter and portable generators can be transported from one place to another, and they come in various sizes. Learn the generator suited to your needs by familiarizing yourself with the different types of generators below:
- Home Standby Generators
These types of generators range from 5,000 to 20,000 watts, and are installed by a professional. It starts automatically during outages. Home standby generators run self-diagnosis and alert you if maintenance is necessary. Fuel choices include propane, natural gas, or gasoline.
- Portable Generators
These are less expensive compared to home standby generators and range from 3,000 to 8,500 watts. Portable generators should be at least 20 feet away from structures (e.g., house, windows, doors) and should not be placed in an enclosed space as well.Some models have electric starting, though the battery necessary for this might not be included. Portable generators usually run on gasoline. A tent or cover can be used over this generator if it’s raining.
- Inverter Generators
These are more expensive than portable generators and are quieter compared to traditional counterparts. Inverter generators produce less emissions and work more efficiently. Safety precautions, however, should still be followed with this type of generator.
- Portable Power Stations
This type of device doesn’t use propane or gas. They’re powered by batteries that you charge through electrical outlets or solar panels (sold as solar generators). These machines are quiet and can be used indoors because they don’t produce carbon monoxide or emissions. They don’t power as many appliances and don’t run for an extended period. In addition, without electricity, portable power stations can’t be replenished.
3. Know the essential features of your generator.
Some of the features that might be important include the following:
- Automatic Start – The generator automatically starts during outages without the need to do anything.
- Electric Start – Push-button method of starting the generator, which is usually available in some portable models.
- Alternative Fuel Options – Typically, portable models run on gasoline only. Although some can use propane or natural gas, other models can be converted with the use of kits.
- Fuel Gauge – This allows you to check how much fuel remains within your tank.
- Low-Oil Shutoff – The generator shuts down automatically to avoid damaging the engine. This happens when oil levels fall below the minimum.
- Removable Console – This is connected to your generator so you can plug appliances without the need to use extension cords.
4. Know the importance of the transfer switch.
A transfer switch connects a generator to the circuit panel safely through a cable. Potential danger could result from the absence of a transfer switch, leading to generator damage and fried appliances. Usually, transfer switches are designed for an input of 220 volts. Thus, you’re looking at generators with a power output of 5,000 watts or higher. Transfer switches should be installed by a licensed electrician, who should walk you through how to use it.
When buying a generator, it is important to know your power output needs, generator types, essential features, and the importance of a transfer switch. Once you get the information you need, you are on your way to having a working generator that you can use once the power goes out.