How to choose the right generator, especially with the Winter snowy season coming

We all survived all the crazy havoc from Thanksgiving and Black Friday! Can you believe that it is soon that time of year again?  I know many of you have probably already started decorating for Christmas, it is such a joyous holiday to celebrate; so much joy and laughter! Along with this holiday we receive the snow and ice!  I know, it is a bittersweet feeling, we all love the the idea of a nice white Christmas, and being able to watch the snow fall with candles.  That will not be so enjoyable however once the electricity goes out and you are left without a back up generator or fresh food!  This is exactly why you need to know how to pick the right generator.

Here are a number of things you can do to to prepare in advance to alleviate all the stress and future damages.

Basically, there are 3 types of generators to choose from:

  1. Standby or permanent generators:  Used for multiple items that need to be kept running during a strong storm.  They get wired to your home’s utility system.  Standbys produce larger power output, great for areas of high frequency levels of storms. Generators that come with a higher price tag usually require professional installation and potentially obtaining permits.
  2. Portable generators: Portable ones are extremely efficient if you do not plan on using it all the time and you plan on storing it away.  A disadvantage to this is that portable generators are not always the most powerful.  This does provide the essentials and the basics though, as well as durability during a short storm.  Portable generators can be set up outside with the use of heavy extention cords.
  3. Inverter generators: Everyone wants a ligther and quieter generator, this would be it! There is only one slight downfall to this: they are not nearly as effective during a severe storm.  They have their own personal use such as to go away on camping trips, or to power electronics- not for major scenarios.

What size generator is best for you?!

Killowatts per hour is the power input for how generators get rated.  A good size generator for a small-medium home for a short period of time is one that produces 5,000 killowatts per hour.  If you are trying to alleviate outages that could last up to a couple weeks, the best idea would be to review your overall power use and consider going larger.

  • Start by adding up all your power requirements- everything that you need during a storm that requires power use, as well as what you think could not be a priority for use.
  • Account for startup surges- after you have figured out what is a necessity and what is not and have calculated your total power needs, don’t forget the fact that many appliances have a surge at startup.  So to get the proper calculation you must multiply your total number by 1.5 to account for these charges.
  • Don’t test its limits- Never run your generator at full power, doing this will certainly run it out a lot quicker.  A good recommended percentage to keep it between would be 50-75%.

Wiring into your home:

Wiring a generator into your home will then enable you to power more appliances than what a normal generator would have outlets for.  Transfer switches are essential when wiring your generator into your home.  They allow you to switch the power from your utility company to run the generator itself.  These switches allow you to either switch the power manually, or have it automatically transfer on when there is no power.

Other things to Consider:

 Generators can produce odorless and deadly carbon monoxide. Basic rule, never, ever use them in an enclosed or partially enclosed space.  You must always follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding placement for the generator, as well as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your entire home.  Fuel is also an important attribute to a generator, not to mention each generator uses a different starting fuel.  Be smart, energy consumption is important- get the best usage for your dollar.  Here are a few key things to consider:

  • Noise- Generators can often times be extremely noisey.  Keep into consideration your family as well as your surrounding neighbors. Always place them away from the house or in neighboring distance of someone else.
  • Starting- Often times manual generators take a little bit of time to start up.  Considering an electric starter might be ideal when trying to weigh out your pros and cons.
  • Gauges- Oil and temperature gauges are ideal.  Always pay attention to the notifications.  They will always tell you if something is wrong before it completely destroys your machine.
  • Weight- Keep in mind the weight factor.  If you plan on moving it around more frequently you might want to consider purchasing a lighter weight generator.

Now that you have enough information on which generator could be best for your and family, be proactive before the real trouble begins.  You don’t want to spend another snow season tied up wondering what to do, or when the power will return!!

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