Monday, October 21, 2013

Home Generators are Becoming the “Norm”


Depending on where you live a power outage may be an all but nonexistent occurrence but the truth is that a power outage can happen anywhere at any time. Not only is a power outage incredibly inconvenient but it can be dangerous. Darkened stairs at 3 in the morning are no laughing matter not to mention if you’re in the shower when all goes dark. In the event that you have necessary medical equipment in the home for yourself or a loved one the loss of power could become a very serious matter.

The solution to this problem is quite simple and surprisingly affordable. A small backup generator will give you the power that you need in the event of an outage and will provide power as long as you have the fuel to keep it going. The most common types use either gasoline or propane and some even work with natural gas although in a real emergency this may be difficult to find.

Depending upon how much back up power you want prices range roughly from $500 up to about $2,000 but you will find that even the smaller units provide enough power for the true essentials such as a refrigerator, a microwave or electric stove and a few lights. The more expensive units will power most of the home although probably not a central air or HVAC system.

To determine what size generator is adequate for you simply add together the wattage of all of the items that you need to power and then multiply times 1.5. Why multiply? The reason is that the initial power up of most appliances requires more electricity than once it is actually running. If you need 1,000 watts to run your selected items during a power failure than you will need approximately a 1,500 watt generator to ensure enough juice to get everything started.

The watts add up quickly so make wise decisions. Do you really need your big screen in an emergency? What about using the hair dryer or your video game console? It’s better to worry about the real essentials during an emergency and doing without all the “goodies”. However, if you just can’t live without your tanning bed and are willing to pay the extra you can buy a generator to get the job done!

Keep in mind that a gas powered generator does emit carbon monoxide. It’s best to place it 100 feet away from the home (if possible) or as far as you can and be sure to use only 14 gauge or heavier extension cords. NEVER run a chord from the generator into an outlet in your home to provide power to that entire circuit. This may sound cute but the truth is that this type of feedback is extremely dangerous to your local utility workers. They will be busy repairing the problem and will not be aware that you are actually sending power back to them on the line. The safest way to use your generator is to run heavy duty extension cords directly to your appliances and NOT into an outlet.

One last important thing to know: Most generators can only produce 100% of their rated output power for a short period of time. To make sure that you have enough power to do what you want base your generator size on about 80% of its actual output. Simply stated, a 1,000 watt generator can produce 1,000 watts for a time but continuous power will be more like 800 watts.

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