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Home > Home Security > Home Generators

Home Standby Generators

Homeowners can improve the safety and security of their family and home with a home standby generator. An emergency generator can keep security systems such as cameras, intrusion detection alarms, smoke and fire alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and other security and safety equipment operational during home power outages.

In addition, the backup power provided by a generator can keep key appliances working so you have heat, water, and food continues to be refrigerated. Emergency generators provide some safety and comfort during power shortages caused by weather or other types of disasters.

Free Online Generator Price Quotes


Home Standby Generator Considerations

The challenge associated with purchasing a home standby or emergency generator is deciding what type and size generator to purchase for your home.

Professional Installation or Do-It-Yourself (DIY)? If you are handy with electricity, electronics, and home repairs you might be able to self-install a home standby generator. This will save you a bit of money. But electricity can be dangerous and complicated and there are certain building and installation codes that you will need to follow. So it might be best to go with a professional installation by a technician who does it every day!

Portable or Permanent Standby. Portable generators are cheaper and can be used for a variety of purposes. Portable generators will run the few vital appliances that you need for a short time. A permanent standby generator can be connected to your existing fuel supply and power many more appliances for a longer time.

Fuel Capacity.  Generators run on fuel so the size of the generator fuel tank could be a limiting factor. The amount of fuel used will depend on how many and what type of house appliances are running for how long a period.

Connecting to Generators. You will need to connect the generator to the appliances that need power. You can do this with long extension cords, plugging in only those appliances or lights that you need at the time. Another option is to use a Manual Transfer Switch system. Some more expensive generators come with an Automatic Transfer Switch. Be aware that connecting some appliances (such as stoves) can cause injury to utility workers.

Municipal Noise Restrictions. Some communities have regulations that limit how much noise a home generator can produce. Be aware of those restrictions before purchasing a generator.

Generator Testing. You should run your generator periodically to ensure that it will function during an emergency. Do these test runs when it is less likely to annoy the neighbors! More expensive generators will have automatic generator testing features. You may want to build an enclosure for your generator to reduce the noise it produces.

Surge Power vs. Constant Operating Power. Appliances use more power the initial seconds that they power on than they do once they are turned on. If you turn on your appliances one at a time you will not overload your generator.

Well Pumps. If you have city supplied water through water pipes then this isn't a consideration. But if you have a well pump - as many homes in rural areas do - then you could have a significant startup spike when your well pump kicks on. You definitely want running water during a power outage so keep the power requirements of a well pump in mind when calculating the size of a generator.

Basement Sump Pumps. If you have one you may need to hook this up to your generator as well to avoid water coming into your basement.

The Positives of a Small Generator. For short-term power outages a small generator is sufficient. They are less expensive to buy, consume less fuel, and have a lower noise level (keeping your neighbors happy). However, you may want a large generator in case a natural or man-made disaster knocks you off the electrical grid for a long period of time.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
on Home Standby Generators

What is Load Shifting? The term load shifting refers to turning on and off appliances while relying on emergency generator power. Unless you have a large, expensive generator you will not be able to run everything in your house that requires electrical power. So you need to pick which appliances are on and which are off during a power outage. Load shifting is turning on the refrigerator for short periods of time just long enough to keep food frozen or cool. You would keep only those lights that are essential. You may opt to keep your security system running. Load shifting can be done one of three ways: manually (turning on and off items), through connections in your electrical panel, or with an expensive automatic transfer switch (bought as part of the generator package).

How do I Wire a Transfer Switch to an Electrical Sub-Panel? If you are asking this question you should probably hire an electrician; you want your installation to be safe and in compliance with electrical codes. A manual or automatic transfer switch will connect to a subpanel in your home electrical system. This provides electrical power to the circuits in that panel.

What Size Generator do I need? This depends on where you live. If you are in the woods of Maine and you experience power outages during the winter as a result of ice and snow storms then you may want a large generator to run your heat, plumbing, lights, stove, refrigerator and more. If you have a wood stove you can choose to not run the furnace. You need to decide what appliances and home systems you want to run and then decide on the size generator you need (or want). Many generator manufacturing firms have generator sizing tools on their websites. The best way to determine your generator sizing requirements is to have an electrician do it for you. He can compute the wattage and voltage requirements for the different electrical appliances within the home.

What Type of Fuel Should I Use? There are pros and cons with any type of generator fuel. Diesel fuel is more economical over the long haul however it is hard to start in cold weather environments and the fuel needs to be "winterized" to prevent clogged fuel filters.


Videos on Home Standby Generators

How Does a Standby Generator Work? By GE Generator Systems. This video is 2:19 minutes long.
www.homestandbygeneratorsystems.com/choosing-a-generator/how-it-works/

Generator Buying Guide. By Consumer Reports.
http://news.consumerreports.org/home/-how-big-a-generator-do-you-need.html

Home Standby Generator. By Cummins Onan.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDpKv1fM4Dw


More Information on Home Standby Generators

Portable Generators for Emergency Use. By Norwall Power Systems.
www.norwall.com/blog/news-and-updates/portable-generators . . .

How Does an Emergency Generator Work? By eHow Home.
www.ehow.com/how-does_4597772_emergency-generator-work.html

Generator Buying Guide. By Consumer Reports (published August 2012).
www.consumerreports.org/cro/generators/buying-guide.htm

To get through an emergency, how big a generator do you need? By Consumer Reports (published October 29, 2012).
http://news.consumerreports.org/home/-how-big-a-generator-do-you-need.html

Emergency Preparedness: Get a Backup Generator for When Disaster Strikes. By Mother Earth News (published May 18, 2012).
www.motherearthnews.com/ . . . /back-up-generator-emergency- . . .

Everything You Need to Know About Emergency Generators. By Bob Villa.
www.bobvila.com/articles/485-everything-you-need-to-know . . .

Backup Generators for Emergencies. By State Farm Insurance.
http://learningcenter.statefarm.com/. . . /back-up-generators- . . .

Choosing the Best Power Generator. The Family Handyman.
http://www.familyhandyman.com/ . . . /-best-power-generator/View-All

Installing a Home Generator for Emergency Power. by Ron Hazelton.
www.ronhazelton.com/projects/how_to_install_a_home_generator_ . . .

Emergency Home Generators. By Home Advisor.
www.homeadvisor.com/ . . . Emergency-Home-Generators . . .

Generators Buyer's Guide. By Northern Tool and Equipment.
www2.northerntool.com/generator-buyers-guide.htm


Stores and Firms Selling Home Standby Generators

BJ's Emergency Preparedness Home Generators.
www.bjs.com/store/generators-emergency-preparedness-home.html

Home Depot Generators.
www.homedepot.com/ . . .-Generators/ . . .

 

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