Whether you lose power from a major storm or a simple downed wire and are fumbling around in the dark looking for candles, that's when you ask yourself "Why don't I have a backup generator?" But what if that outage lasted longer than a few hours? Maybe days? It can happen, which is why having a generator isn't a nice-to-have but a must-have item for your home. A backup generator will help you make it through any outage comfortably and safely, prevent home damage by keeping crucial systems running, may save you money, and ensure that life goes on as normal when the power goes off.
First you need to consider the following before making any decision about what generator you need:
There are two generator options available for backup power: the standby (or whole house generator) and the portable generator. Both provide power backup but with some important differences that you need to know.
This should be handled professionally as it involves permits, building codes, and professional electrical, plumbing, and potentially gas line work if your power source is natural gas.
Can power essential items such as your refrigerator, cooking appliances, furnace, entertainment, and medical devices, and necessary business equipment. This prevents having to throw out hundreds of dollars in spoiled food in a prolonged outage. It can also help prevent frozen pipes from bursting and keep sump pumps running, avoiding potentially thousands of dollars in damage.
This generator is a good, backup solution for people that only lose power on rare occasions.
It can run on gasoline, diesel, natural gas, or propane and can be used to supply power safely to a select number of items in your home. It should not be used without having a properly installed generator transfer switch.
Portable generators cost substantially less than a standby generator and because of their size, can be easily moved to wherever you need them, at home, camping, etc.
Never plug your generator directly into the wall outlet (known as back-feeding). This sends power beyond the house, which could kill or injure utility workers and others served by the same utility transformer. Portable generators must be kept outside in a dry area, never inside the home or any enclosed or partially-enclosed spaces such as your basement, garage, or crawl space because of the carbon monoxide (CO) emitted while the generator is running, electrocution and fire risks.
Now that you know what types of generators are available, talk with a professional to help you decide whether a standby or portable one is right for you.