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Choosing a Generator

One of the most logical alternative power acquisitions for your home is a generator. Generators provide power, only when you need it, without ever drawing upon your household current. A generator is an absolute necessity if there is an asthmatic in your family, if you have all-electric heat, or if someone in the household is on oxygen. A generator is also essential if you care about your family’s comfort and security.

The following are some questions to ask yourself, before you purchase your generator:

  • Do I really need an alternative power source? You do if you want to run anything – if you need your air cooled or heated, if you want to run your refrigerator or your freezer, or if you can’t live without a pot of coffee.
  • Why a generator? Generators run refrigerators, washers and dryers, and air conditioners. Generators are reliable on a moment’s notice to avoid long or short-term power outages. It can also run your home computer, without all of those power fluctuations that can fry your machine. (AVR dependent)
  • How can it keep my family safe? A generator can run your air-conditioner, so that you can keep your windows closed and locked, protecting your family from harm and keeping your valuables safe.
  • Is a generator safe? A generator is perfectly safe, if you use the appropriately sized power cords that are recommended by the manufacturer. Never attempt to hook your generator to power lines. The electrical back feed can be fatal. Always read the directions, and follow them.
  • What about carbon monoxide? Carbon-monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas, that can kill you while you’re smiling. Never run a generator in an enclosed space such as a basement, attached garage, or an enclosed porch.

Choosing the Right Generator

If you have occasional needs during a brief power outage to simply run a few small appliances or lights, then a standard generator of 2,000 watts is a realistic choice. If your home or business needs a dependable backup power source for extended power outages, 3,500 watts or higher should do the trick.

Other features to consider are a spin-on engine oil filter; automatic voltage regulation (AVR); idle control; and 12-volt charging capability.

Remember, a generator is not a nifty toy or a really neat appliance. It is a powerful machine that can run serious appliances, such as furnace blowers, sump pumps, well pumps, televisions, lights, air-conditioners, electric stoves and microwave ovens.

Before you buy, check the safety tags on your appliances for wattage information. Generators are rated for both continuous running wattage and for surge wattage (just a few seconds) for starting an electric motor. You need a high rating for both. You want to not only be able to run a sump pump, for example – you also want to have the surge wattage necessary to start the engine.

The following are basic things you need to know before you begin shopping for your generator:

  • Stationary Generator: If you don’t have one, buy one now, before the storm. Stationary generators are more expensive, and they require a licensed electrician to install a separate “transfer switch” for safety, which allows you to run pre-selected lights, a refrigerator, air-conditioning and water. If you can afford it, this is the generator to buy.
  • Portable Generator: Portable generators are ideal for emergency power at a moment’s notice. However, they run on gasoline, and they must be kept outside the home. The deadly carbon-monoxide that it generates can kill you in your sleep. So prepare now, with a sturdy, outdoor shelter. Add a padlock if looters are a concern.
  • Carbon Monoxide Detector: This is essential if you have a generator. They are battery operated, and you should have extra batteries. This can save your life, for a small expense.

You do not need to see your family suffer through a power outage without the things they need for health and safety. Buying a generator is a big decision, but it just may be life-saving, and that makes all the difference in the world.

If you’ve ever been a victim of a lengthy power outage due to severe weather, odds are you are now a firm believer in having a generator stored in your garage for the next time you need it. A good generator can supply your home with the essential electricity it needs to help life stay as normal as possible until the utility company can make their repairs. Yet not all generators are designed for powering a home. In truth, generators are used for a broad range of purposes.

If you’re looking to purchase your first generator, it can be a confusing process because there are so many different varieties available. For instance, some turn on automatically when the electrical panel loses service, while others need to be pull-started like a lawnmower. Some are portable, and some are not. Some use gasoline, while others use diesel. The purpose of this buyer’s guide is to provide you with information you need to help you find the right generator for your needs.

Diesel generators–A diesel generator is one that runs on diesel fuel, which in some areas may be less expensive than gasoline. Available in a variety of sizes, smaller diesel generators ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 watts are often used by construction companies to power certain pieces of equipment or for a source of auxiliary power in mobile homes, whereas generators sized 8,000 to 30,000 watts are generally large enough for a home or small office.

Portable generators–Portable generators are just as the name implies, easily movable from one place to another. These machines are often used on construction sites or for satisfying short-term electricity needs. Portable generators typically fall under these three wattage categories:

750 to 3,500 watts–This size generator is ideal for camping or for producing enough electricity for operating a few essential electrical components in the home.
4,000 to 8,000 watts–This size generator is suitable for providing temporary emergency power to a 2,500- to 3,000-square-foot home (depending on the electrical demand).
10,000 to 17,500 watts–This size portable generator is suitable to be used as an electrical backup for most homes.
Portable generators are available in gas, propane and diesel models, and some feature an inverter for protecting sensitive electronic equipment from power surges.

Watt generators–Generators are rated by their wattage output, so choosing one means you should have an idea of how much electricity you need to get by. Typical home use generators fall within the following wattage ratings:

  • 1,000 watts
  • 2,000 watts
  • 3,000 watts
  • 5,000 watts
  • 6,000 watts

 

These generators are typically for temporary emergency use and not designed to power every electrical component in the home. For instance, air conditioning units require 30,000 surge watts to start, so a much larger, industrial-sized generator would be needed to power a home with a running air conditioner.

Industrial generators–Industrial generators are significantly larger and more powerful than portable models with wattage outputs exceeding 50,000 watts. They can be feuled by petrol or diesel and many are available as standby generators, which mean they will automatically start in the event of a power outage.

Standby generators–A standby generator is sometimes called an emergency generator or an automatic start generator, as this type starts generating electricity immediately upon a power outage. When the electricity is restored, the generator automatically turns off and goes back into standby mode until it is needed again.

Inverter generators–A generator that has a built-in inverter is necessary if you have delicate electronics in the home that can be damaged by powerful voltage spikes or dips. The inverter balances out the voltage and helps to reduce line distortion. The engine on inverter generators also adjusts to the load demands, so when very little electricity is being used, the generator is virtually silent. This also helps to make inverter generators more fuel efficient than other types of generators.

Starting Wattage vs. Running Wattage

Every electrical component in your home has a starting wattage and a running wattage. The starting wattage is the amount of electricity needed to start the appliance or device, while the running wattage is what’s needed to keep it running. These numbers can often differ quite severely. For instance, a refrigerator may have a running wattage of 1,200 watts, but it requires 2,400 watts to start the compressor. Likewise, a whole-house AC unit can have a running wattage of 15,000 watts, but double that amount is needed to start the appliance. When sizing your generator, it’s very important to know both of these numbers for each of the items you need to have powered in the event of a power outage.

How Much Generator Do You Need?

  1. Make a list of all the electrical items you need to have powered by the generator.
  2. Check the identification plate or owner’s manual for each device to see what the starting and running wattages are.
  3. Add up both individual sets of figures.
  4. If the appliance’s power consumption is rated only in amperes, use the following equation to convert it to watts: # of Amperes x Voltage = Watts

 

The generator that will best suit your needs is one that can handle both the running wattage and the starting wattage of all your electrical components if they all turned on together at the same time. For instance, if the total running wattage of your items is 2,250 watts and the total starting wattage for the components is 3,800 watts, then those numbers will need to be rounded up to the generator that can easily handle the load, like a 4,000 watt generator.

One of the most logical alternative power acquisitions for your home is a generator. Generators provide power, only when you need it, without ever drawing upon your household current. A generator is an absolute necessity if there is an asthmatic in your family, if you have all-electric heat, or if someone in the household is on oxygen. A generator is also essential if you care about your family’s comfort and security.

The following are some questions to ask yourself, before you purchase your generator:

  • Do I really need an alternative power source? You do if you want to run anything – if you need your air cooled or heated, if you want to run your refrigerator or your freezer, or if you can’t live without a pot of coffee.
  • Why a generator? Generators run refrigerators, washers and dryers, and air conditioners. Generators are reliable on a moment’s notice to avoid long or short-term power outages. It can also run your home computer, without all of those power fluctuations that can fry your machine. (AVR dependent)
  • How can it keep my family safe? A generator can run your air-conditioner, so that you can keep your windows closed and locked, protecting your family from harm and keeping your valuables safe.
  • Is a generator safe? A generator is perfectly safe, if you use the appropriately sized power cords that are recommended by the manufacturer. Never attempt to hook your generator to power lines. The electrical back feed can be fatal. Always read the directions, and follow them.
  • What about carbon monoxide? Carbon-monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas, that can kill you while you’re smiling. Never run a generator in an enclosed space such as a basement, attached garage, or an enclosed porch.

Choosing the Right Generator

If you have occasional needs during a brief power outage to simply run a few small appliances or lights, then a standard generator of 2,000 watts is a realistic choice. If your home or business needs a dependable backup power source for extended power outages, 3,500 watts or higher should do the trick.

Other features to consider are a spin-on engine oil filter; automatic voltage regulation (AVR); idle control; and 12-volt charging capability.

Remember, a generator is not a nifty toy or a really neat appliance. It is a powerful machine that can run serious appliances, such as furnace blowers, sump pumps, well pumps, televisions, lights, air-conditioners, electric stoves and microwave ovens.

Before you buy, check the safety tags on your appliances for wattage information. Generators are rated for both continuous running wattage and for surge wattage (just a few seconds) for starting an electric motor. You need a high rating for both. You want to not only be able to run a sump pump, for example – you also want to have the surge wattage necessary to start the engine.

The following are basic things you need to know before you begin shopping for your generator:

  • Stationary Generator: If you don’t have one, buy one now, before the storm. Stationary generators are more expensive, and they require a licensed electrician to install a separate “transfer switch” for safety, which allows you to run pre-selected lights, a refrigerator, air-conditioning and water. If you can afford it, this is the generator to buy.
  • Portable Generator: Portable generators are ideal for emergency power at a moment’s notice. However, they run on gasoline, and they must be kept outside the home. The deadly carbon-monoxide that it generates can kill you in your sleep. So prepare now, with a sturdy, outdoor shelter. Add a padlock if looters are a concern.
  • Carbon Monoxide Detector: This is essential if you have a generator. They are battery operated, and you should have extra batteries. This can save your life, for a small expense.

You do not need to see your family suffer through a power outage without the things they need for health and safety. Buying a generator is a big decision, but it just may be life-saving, and that makes all the difference in the world.

If you’ve ever been a victim of a lengthy power outage due to severe weather, odds are you are now a firm believer in having a generator stored in your garage for the next time you need it. A good generator can supply your home with the essential electricity it needs to help life stay as normal as possible until the utility company can make their repairs. Yet not all generators are designed for powering a home. In truth, generators are used for a broad range of purposes.

If you’re looking to purchase your first generator, it can be a confusing process because there are so many different varieties available. For instance, some turn on automatically when the electrical panel loses service, while others need to be pull-started like a lawnmower. Some are portable, and some are not. Some use gasoline, while others use diesel. The purpose of this buyer’s guide is to provide you with information you need to help you find the right generator for your needs.

Diesel generators–A diesel generator is one that runs on diesel fuel, which in some areas may be less expensive than gasoline. Available in a variety of sizes, smaller diesel generators ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 watts are often used by construction companies to power certain pieces of equipment or for a source of auxiliary power in mobile homes, whereas generators sized 8,000 to 30,000 watts are generally large enough for a home or small office.

Portable generators–Portable generators are just as the name implies, easily movable from one place to another. These machines are often used on construction sites or for satisfying short-term electricity needs. Portable generators typically fall under these three wattage categories:

750 to 3,500 watts–This size generator is ideal for camping or for producing enough electricity for operating a few essential electrical components in the home.
4,000 to 8,000 watts–This size generator is suitable for providing temporary emergency power to a 2,500- to 3,000-square-foot home (depending on the electrical demand).
10,000 to 17,500 watts–This size portable generator is suitable to be used as an electrical backup for most homes.
Portable generators are available in gas, propane and diesel models, and some feature an inverter for protecting sensitive electronic equipment from power surges.

Watt generators–Generators are rated by their wattage output, so choosing one means you should have an idea of how much electricity you need to get by. Typical home use generators fall within the following wattage ratings:

  • 1,000 watts
  • 2,000 watts
  • 3,000 watts
  • 5,000 watts
  • 6,000 watts

 

These generators are typically for temporary emergency use and not designed to power every electrical component in the home. For instance, air conditioning units require 30,000 surge watts to start, so a much larger, industrial-sized generator would be needed to power a home with a running air conditioner.

Industrial generators–Industrial generators are significantly larger and more powerful than portable models with wattage outputs exceeding 50,000 watts. They can be feuled by petrol or diesel and many are available as standby generators, which mean they will automatically start in the event of a power outage.

Standby generators–A standby generator is sometimes called an emergency generator or an automatic start generator, as this type starts generating electricity immediately upon a power outage. When the electricity is restored, the generator automatically turns off and goes back into standby mode until it is needed again.

Inverter generators–A generator that has a built-in inverter is necessary if you have delicate electronics in the home that can be damaged by powerful voltage spikes or dips. The inverter balances out the voltage and helps to reduce line distortion. The engine on inverter generators also adjusts to the load demands, so when very little electricity is being used, the generator is virtually silent. This also helps to make inverter generators more fuel efficient than other types of generators.

Starting Wattage vs. Running Wattage

Every electrical component in your home has a starting wattage and a running wattage. The starting wattage is the amount of electricity needed to start the appliance or device, while the running wattage is what’s needed to keep it running. These numbers can often differ quite severely. For instance, a refrigerator may have a running wattage of 1,200 watts, but it requires 2,400 watts to start the compressor. Likewise, a whole-house AC unit can have a running wattage of 15,000 watts, but double that amount is needed to start the appliance. When sizing your generator, it’s very important to know both of these numbers for each of the items you need to have powered in the event of a power outage.

How Much Generator Do You Need?

  1. Make a list of all the electrical items you need to have powered by the generator.
  2. Check the identification plate or owner’s manual for each device to see what the starting and running wattages are.
  3. Add up both individual sets of figures.
  4. If the appliance’s power consumption is rated only in amperes, use the following equation to convert it to watts: # of Amperes x Voltage = Watts

 

The generator that will best suit your needs is one that can handle both the running wattage and the starting wattage of all your electrical components if they all turned on together at the same time. For instance, if the total running wattage of your items is 2,250 watts and the total starting wattage for the components is 3,800 watts, then those numbers will need to be rounded up to the generator that can easily handle the load, like a 4,000 watt generator.

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