Don’t Leave Your Home in the Dark


Filed under Living & Housing

Extreme weather continues to increase nationwide, and power failures often accompany these events. According to the National Weather Service, each year Americans cope with an average of 10,000 thunderstorms, 2,500 floods, 1,000 tornadoes and six hurricanes. Although over two-thirds of power outages are caused by weather-related events, these are not the only causes. Blackouts and brownouts also occur because of high power usage, aging utilities and other unpredictable forces.

In a world of high dependence on technology, an increasing number of homeowners and small business owners are installing a permanent standby power generator — and even more are considering one, based on the growing popularity of these automatic units.

“Residential standby generators are becoming increasingly popular lately because they are convenient and more affordable than before,” says John Schultz of Kohler Power Systems-Residential. “But we advise consumers to research their options, figure out what their back-up power needs are and then plan ahead before investing in a home standby generator.”

Most home standby generators feature an automatic transfer switch (ATS) that continually monitors utility power and automatically transfers electrical loads from the utility to the generator when power is lost — whether the resident is home or away. The ATS reverses the process and shuts down the generator automatically once utility power resumes.

Tips regarding standby power

• Always Plan Ahead. Orders for most residential generators may have a lead time. For homeowners who don’t have access to natural gas, preparing for a liquid propane (LP) tank is necessary before installing a standby generator. Planning ahead ensures customers don’t have to wait any longer than necessary to get systems up and running.

• Seek a Site Visit First. The Internet and retail stores are a great resource for researching standby generator options, prices and features, but before you buy online or off the shelf, consult with a local generator dealer or electrical contractor first. Ask for a site visit and assistance with matching the right generator size to your electrical needs and wants. They will conduct a load measurement, taking into consideration exactly the electrical wattage needed and the appliances/equipment you intend to back up with the standby generator. The result of this load measurement will give you the amount of power (watts or kilowatts) required. The majority of today’s homeowners use a 12-15 kilowatt generator to backup the key essentials in the home, while those seeking to backup every electrical item in their home will likely require a generator sized at 30 kilowatts or larger.

• Professional Installation Required. Because installing standby generators involves working with existing fuel lines and electrical wiring, professional installation by an authorized manufacturer’s power expert or licensed electrical contractor is strongly recommended. These qualified individuals are also knowledgeable about local and regional ordinances concerning flood plains, noise and electrical codes, and can assist in applying for the proper permits and to ensure your installation is compliant.

• Shop Around. Often, in an emergency, vendors will engage in pirice gouging. Be sure to purchase your generator from a certified dealer.

• Look for Efficiencies. “Building or remodeling is the perfect time to consider standby power needs,” says Ed Del Grande, three-time master pipefitter. “Even if you aren’t able to install a generator immediately, pre-wiring can save time and money down the road.”

• Understand Key Features. When shopping products from various manufacturers, be sure to consider noise levels, size, power quality, warranty and service support, in addition to the product’s kilowatt capacity.

• Make Safety a Top Priority. While a portable generator can be a cost-effective alternative to a permanently installed standby generator, always take proper safety precautions. These gasoline powered generators can create sparks and need to be operated in a well-ventilated area because of the carbon monoxide produced.

To calculate what size standby generator will meet your home’s power needs, use the Sizing Calculator at where you can choose which home appliances you would like to keep powered in the event of an outage and learn more about standby power.

Article courtesy of ARAcontent

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