Backup Generator Shopping Tips for Homeowners

If you live in an area that is prone to power outages due to inclement weather, earthquakes, or such population density that providers are forced to implement rolling blackouts during instances of high demand, then you may be interested in using a backup generator in your home to ensure that essential electrical functions aren’t cut off. Say you live in a region that suffers severe winter storms; the last thing you want to deal with is a power outage when it’s twenty degrees below zero. And people in warmer climes don’t want to see their food spoil and their fish float to the top of the tank when the power is cut off. But before you run out and buy the first backup generator you find, there are several things you’ll want to take into consideration.

For starters you should probably take the time to learn the lingo. If you don’t know the difference between terms like amps, watts, and volts, it’s probably a good idea to check out a glossary of basic electrical terms. And you need to do a little leg work on the home front, as well, by taking the time to figure out which electrical items are crucial to maintain in a blackout (the furnace/thermostat, the fridge, etc.) and how much energy they require to function (generally by kW/hour). Showing up for your shopping experience prepared will help to ensure that you get the equipment you need to keep your house up and running when the power goes out.

From there, the first thing you’ll probably want to decide is whether you prefer a standby or a portable generator. Permanent machinery will require you to create a pad (like the one for your outdoor AC unit), whereas a portable unit can be wheeled into your home. There are pros and cons to each. A standby unit will be permanently affixed outside and attached to your electrical system. What you will likely enjoy with such products is automatic transfer when the power goes out, so you don’t have to bother hooking things up or turning things on, not to mention the fact that you needn’t suffer through the racket of having a generator inside the house. These units also tend to have greater size and capacity than portable units, meaning you won’t have to fuel them as often and you can probably power more of your home.

But there is something to be said for portable units, as well: mainly that the cost is far more affordable for the average homeowner. Whereas you could end up paying several thousand dollars for a standby unit, a portable one will likely cost you a few hundred dollars. And if blackouts in your area tend to be fairly infrequent, this may be a better solution, even though it’s not nearly as convenient. Just remember, you might need to add a transfer switch when using a portable generator to ensure that it will work safely with your existing electrical system.

You’ll also want to ask about warranties, comparison shop for pricing, and eventually take the time to learn¬†how generators work¬†before you make a final decision. But finding the right generator for your home means that you’ll never be without power when you need it most. It will take a little research and forethought on your part, and probably a lot of targeted questions, but the end result will be the peace of mind that comes with knowing your necessary appliances and electrical equipment will work even when the power goes out.

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