Don’t wait until the next big storm to determine which generator is right for your family’s home. Plan ahead using these tips to choose which generator and installation will best power your house when the power goes out.
Calculate the Wattage You’ll Need
Put together a list of all the items you’d like to run via generator during a power outage. Your essential appliances, like the refrigerator, microwave and phone charger, should all be included. Using this list, add together each item’s wattage level to determine what size generator is necessary for your house. Take into account both running and starting wattage. Running wattage is necessary to keep an item running, while starting wattage is the larger number of watts needed for a few seconds while an appliance (or other motor-driven item) starts.
Overestimating your wattage needs gives you the ability to use a few smaller devices at a time with your generator. Keep in mind, however, that buying a generator with a higher output will be costlier.
Choose a Portable or Standby Model
A smaller portable generator is the most cost-effective way to power essentials during a power outage. You will need to start this type of generator manually when the power goes out and keep fuel at home so you can power it.
Tip: Buying a portable generator with a fuel tank large enough to power your home for 8 to 10 hours means you won’t have to refuel in the middle of the night.
To power your entire home, consider a standby or stationary generator. While more expensive, this type of backup power is also more convenient. When a power outage is detected, the generator will automatically take over, using your home’s natural gas or propane supply.
Invest in a Manual Transfer Switch
Portable generators powering just a few items can be connected to your house using heavy duty extension cords. This gives you flexibility and portability. You can also connect your portable generator to a manual transfer switch panel. This panel funnels the energy your generator creates into specific circuits in your home, similarly to how a standby generator works.
Tip: Keep a carbon monoxide detector on in your house while using your generator to keep your family safe.