In this day and age, it’s almost impossible to survive without access to electricity. Losing power on any given day – let alone several days – can be disastrous. It’s no wonder that more households are choosing to protect against power outages by purchasing and connecting both standby and portable generators. The choice isn’t always easy, however. Picking the right generator requires taking several factors into account:
A standby generator automatically provides power in the event of an outage. These types of generators are permanently installed on your residence, usually in concrete, and are connected to the building’s electrical circuits. During a blackout, an automatic transfer switch will turn the generator on within seconds, bringing power back to your home. When the blackout is over, the transfer switch will shut the generator down again.
Unlike standby generators, backup generators are not permanently installed and don’t work automatically. These portable generators must be started manually by the user after a blackout has occurred. Many households elect to plug devices directly into the generator; others prefer to connect the generator to the house’s electrical panel in order to power outlets as well as household systems.
Generators can be easily connected to an electrical panel by installing an interlock kit that functions like a manual transfer switch. While the interlock kit will not automatically engage or shut down power, it will isolate the household and utility systems to protect against unsafe overloads.
Selecting the Right One
The type of generator that will work best for you depends entirely on the needs of your family and your home or business. A portable generator may work best for small homes with few electrical needs or in an area where blackouts are not common. However, for those considering the more reliable (and larger and more expensive) standby generators, there are still a few more things to take into consideration.
Size & Strength
Different sizes of generators exist to suit different needs, and standby backup generators can be quite large. A large generator creates more power, making them ideal for homes with a lot of electrical needs. If you need to run your air conditioner during a blackout, for instance, you’ll need to purchase a stronger generator. You’ll need to know exactly how much power you require in order to select the right unit for you. Portable generators typically max out at 10,000-watt units, while standby generators can be as powerful as 30,000 watts.
The vast difference in power also results in a vast difference in price. Portable generators are a far more economical choice with units ranging from $500 to $1500. On the other hand, standby generators carry a heftier price tag. The permanent generators start at a price of $5000 but can get as pricey as $15,000. In addition to that price tag, the units will need to be installed.
Picking the right generator for your family really comes down your specific needs. Some families may not be able to handle the cost of a permanent standby generator, while others wouldn’t be able to survive without it. When it comes to picking a backup generator, carefully weigh the pros against the cons.