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Home Generators

Home generators have increased in usage since the Y2k scare where the population feared power would be out for days. Since then, other natural disasters have shown the need for home generators. Events like the Great Northeast Power Blackout of 1965 and ice blizzard, hurricanes, and tornados throughout the years, all have represented the need for generators. Generators are extremely useful equipment to safeguard electricity loss during blackouts caused by anything including hail storms or mud slides.

Because power outages can cause damage or injury, acquiring a fail-safe backup can save money and lower risk of serious injuries. Keeping appliances like refrigerators and freezers operating can hinder spoiling of food. Alarm systems can be kept up and running for security and other important products requiring power can be maintained, including TV for some people. Some home power generators can power the whole house including lights and all appliances. Although having a generator at home is not vital for everyone, those who really consider safety, especially in areas more prone to loss of electricity, will definitely have a backup plan for their homes.

Choosing Standby Home Generators

There are a variety of home generators available ranging in wattage levels to deliver alternate power to small homes to larger 5 bedroom houses. Before picking a standby home generator, there are many factors to check including size, brand, and applications. The first item to examine is what needs to be powered rather it be the entire house or just some essential appliances like heaters, coolers, or air conditioners. From here, the amount of power needed and type of generator can be selected accordingly.

Next is to determine grade and pricing of the power generator. There are several brands of residential power generators and each is manufactured in a unique manner just like other tools. Some cheaper ones may not last as long while more expensive ones can extend as long as you stay in the house. Since these generators are designed only for very rare emergency blackouts, they can last quite a while.

Prices of residential power generators will vary according to power provided and grade so adjusting what appliances are indispensable or the longevity of the units needs to be figured. For areas with higher degrees of snow fall where blackouts are more frequent, a higher grade unit may be a better selection. For areas where blackouts rarely occur, a less grade, cheaper unit might be a more appropriate solution. For critical areas, commercial grade units might be opted for even if they are much costlier in price.

Another determination is to decide between a portable generator or a standby one that. The standby generators are set and ready to go during any loss of electrical power. Standby generators are connected to the homes power system and once a power loss is detected, the generators kick in and supply substitute power. Portable generators are different and need to be left outside and used with extension cords to power appliances.

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Residential Generators Usage

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There are some guidelines for installing residential generators for safety and proper use. Residential generators have many risks if not installed correctly and used properly. It is best to have a licensed individual to install any generators. Improperly installing power generators in homes can cause anything from fires, electrocution, or carbon monoxide poisoning. Using a home power generator inside living areas can cause CO buildup and poisoning which is one of the reasons the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has required portable generators to come with a label that says "Using a generator indoors CAN KILL YOU IN MINUTES". Installing extra carbon monoxide detectors can help prevent major problems.

Another safety hazard when installing and using home generators is fire hazard. Because residential generators require a fuel source that is most likely flammable, keeping fuel sources away from heat sources and homes is mandatory. Electrocution or fires caused by electricity are another hazard to watch for when installing generators. Improper installs can lead to electrical casualty and fires as well as electrocution of any public employee working on the wiring. Safety switches like double-pole, double-throw transfer switch and manual switches are good specifications to secure safe operation. Note again a licensed electrician or other expert should install generators.

Portable vs. Standby Home Generators

Before deciding on the purchase of generators, consumers need to understand the difference between portable generators and standby generators. There are portable generators that can be used during power loss by running extension cords to the various appliances that need to be powered. The transportable generators are kept outside and away from allowing carbon monoxide from leaking into the house. If installed correctly, portable generators can also be tied into the home's electrical configuration but requires a license electrician to install safety measures to protect the home and workers working on power lines. For home generators, this option definitely works and is cheaper in cost but entails more work during blackouts.

Standby home generators are more efficient as these generators are installed directly into the house's electrical structure and are located similar to how AC units are. If there is a loss of electricity, it takes the generators a few minutes, if not shorter, to jump start and restore power to the house. This allows minimal effort by consumers and with the numerous fuel choices like natural gas; it makes it easy to replenish fuel to the generators unlike portable generators that depend upon manual fuel changes. Depending on individual consumer needs, either choice will work but standby home generators are superior options for instant power restoral during any most interruptions. Consumers should notice that some natural disasters like an earthquake may affect home standby generators running on a fuel like natural gas.

Generator Tip

If your home runs on propane or natural gas, installing a standby, residential generator that runs off the source when power is out is very efficient.


Safety Hazards of Home Generators

  • Fire - power generators using flammable fuels have fire risk
  • Electrocution - power generators can cause electrocution
  • Carbon Monoxide - power generators produce high amounts of carbon monoxide