Power outages of any considerable length are a major pain. Lack of HVAC can push your home temperature into uncomfortable or even dangerous ranges. Food begins to spoil inside the fridge. With no television or Internet, entertainment options dwindle, and with no way to charge your phone, communication can be a problem.
But with a home generator, you can hang on to some of these conveniences no matter what’s happening with the electrical grid. Buying a generator is something most homeowners should at least consider, though it’s not essential for everyone. And if you think you could benefit from a generator, there are even more decisions to make. Read on to learn about some of the considerations that should go into any generator purchase.
When deciding whether an emergency generator is worth the expense, it’s helpful to assess how frequently the power goes out in your neighborhood, how long it typically takes for power to be restored, and how easily you can weather an outage.
The frequency of power outages is usually affected most by local weather. If you can’t remember the last time a storm knocked the power out, a generator might never be useful. But if you live along the coast and lose power every hurricane season, it could be a lifesaver.
The time it takes to restore power usually has to do with how remote your home is. In densely populated cities, utility crews usually start restoring power to thousands of customers as soon as it’s safe. But if you live in a rural area, it might take days for those crews to reach you.
For some homeowners, the occasional prolonged power outage may not be a big deal. But if you operate a home business or need electricity to power essential medical equipment, you may not be able to afford to take the chance.
Not Too Big, Not Too Small
If you decide you need a generator after considering these questions, it’s time to choose a model -- and you have lots of choices.
The biggest choice is between portable and standby generators. Portable generators can still be very large and powerful, but even the big ones tend to be cheaper than their standby equivalents. They’ll also require a bit more work to set up and keep running.
Standby generators are wired directly into your home and are designed to activate as soon as there’s a power interruption. They’re the most convenient option -- but the most expensive, too.>
No matter which you choose, you’ll also need to choose a wattage level. The right level for you depends on how many appliances and devices you plan to power at the same time. Everything draws a different amount of power, so this is a good time to call in an experienced electrician for a consultation.
An electrician can help you calculate the total wattage for everything you want to operate, factoring in extra for those appliances that draw a surge of electricity on startup. If you simply guess your ideal wattage level, you could easily spend too much or get stuck with a generator that falls short of your needs.
For help with any of these decisions, call upon your local electrical experts