What to Consider in Buying A Residential Generator

by Ann Triune

Having your very own residential generator is very important if you want to secure your home from a power outage. During a blackout, a residential generator allows you to continue usage of important electric appliances and devices like your air-conditioner, heater, lights, refrigerator, and computer. It works by converting mechanical energy into electrical energy.

In choosing a residential generator, you can either go for a portable or a stationary (stand by) generator, depending on what suits your needs. There are different types of fuel that can be used, and includes natural gas, diesel, gasoline and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). The cheapest models are portable generators that run on gasoline. Despite its tempting cost, it only has a short running time, and you would need to refill the gas tank over and over again. It is also not reliable as a power backup for a long-term power outage since gas pumps may not work during blackouts.

In contrast, a stationary generator can provide continuous power. It is directly connected to an external fuel source (ex: external gas line) and because of this, there is no limit to the power it can supply. If you want your portable generator to lengthen its running time, you can also choose to hook it up to an external source.

In addition, portable generators, despite its affordability, come with disadvantages. You need to transport it from the storage, hook it up to the loads, fill it with fuel, and manually operate it just to get it to start functioning. A standby residential generator on the other hand functions with just a push of the button, or even with no manual operation at all, if it has an automatic transfer switch. This is because it is connected to the house wiring and fuel source. The average transfer time of an automated system is about 10-30 seconds. Furthermore, a standby generator provides higher levels of power compared to portables. Although it might be expensive, standby generators guarantee total protection from long-term power outage since it can supply electricity even to the whole house.

In choosing your own residential generator, make sure you not only consider wattage and price, but also take into consideration how long you might need emergency power, fuel availability, convenience of use, and safety. You should also consider whether you want to power the whole house or just a few mission-critical select circuits. If you have the financial resources to power the whole house, go for it. If not, you can just choose select circuits that are most important to you, like those leading to lights, refrigerator, heater, air-conditioner, and such.

Just bear in mind that having a residential generator might bring about accidents and health hazards. It can cause fires, electrocution, and a high emission of the poisonous gas, carbon monoxide.

Overall, you should choose a residential generator that suits your needs. Assess whether you need it for short-term/long-term blackouts and for whole house/select circuits. Of course, you should determine the wattage requirements of the electrical devices you need to power at the same time, so you can look for a generator that supplies the right amount of power.

Keep in mind that there is more to buying a residential generator than its price tag. Your home’s safety from a power outage depends on a residential generator, so consider it as a very important and wise investment.

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