Portable Or Standby Generators: Which Is The Best For Your Needs?

With the severe weather pummeling most of the United States, people are understandably concerned about power outages. Regardless of what area of the country you live in, a little disaster planning can go a long way in making sure your family is safe and has access to power. A generator is necessary to ensure you have the power your family needs to make it through a power outage. There are two primary types of generators, portable and standby. Here are some tips to help you choose the most appropriate generator for your needs.

Portable Generators

A portable generator is a gas-engine generator that is wheeled into position outside of the house and plugged into a transfer switch. Some portable generators can be connected to an electrical load by using heavy-duty extension cords. The majority of portable generators runs on gasoline; some are designed to operate on propane.

Standby Generator

Standby generators are a type of generator that is permanently installed outside. A standby generator has an automatic transfer switch that is used to monitor the utility power. As soon as the power goes out, the automatic transfer switch will automatically turn the generator on, whether you are at home or not and it will continue to provide energy until your electricity is restored. As soon as the power comes back on, the automatic transfer switch will turn the generator off.

What Size Generator Do You Need?

The size of generator you need depends how much electrical power you will need, which is measured in watts. To find the total wattage, you will need to add up all of the electrical loads you want to run simultaneously. Keep in mind that larger items, such as the air conditioner will use a lot of power when it first starts up, typically about double of what it will use while it's running. To find the total wattage of your appliances,

  1. Check the label or tag on each appliance to find the total voltage and amperage
  2. Multiply the voltage times the amperage for each appliance
  3. Add all of the wattages together to find the minimum power capacity you will need in a generator

Whichever generator you choose to use, it is essential that you use it safely. If you opt for a standby generator, it is recommended that you hire a professional electrician to install the generator to ensure it is correctly connected to the power lines and gas lines for your home. If you choose to use a portable generator, always keep it several feet away from the house to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure the smoke detectors and CO detectors are working when using the generator. Talk to a professional like Original Donnelly Heating Cooling & Electric for more information.