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Today’s modern world is totally dependent on electricity. No American home will function without electricity. The home’s heating and cooling units run on electricity. The lights need electricity. Kitchen appliances such as your refrigerators, microwave, and coffee maker all need electricity. All of your laptops, desktops and modems also dependent on electricity.
Without electricity which provides the power to run these tools that make life comfortable, living will be harder and more inconvenient than the usual. It is in the absence of the supply of electricity from the grid that the need to generate our own power arises.
What Are Generators?
A generator is a machine that converts mechanical energy to electrical power for use of an external load such as your appliances, gadgets, and other electric and electronic devices.
Generators do not and cannot create energy. They simply convert a motive energy (which is your mechanical energy) into another form which we can use to power up our devices and appliances.
There are basically two types of generators. These are:
Standby Generators - These are generators that are usually used to power an entire household in the event of a power outage. They are also known as stationary generators. Standby generators can provide your home uninterrupted power supply for days. They are installed permanently in your yard and they can use liquid propane, natural gas, or diesel as energy source.
Portable Generators - Portable generators are basically generators on wheels, so you can move them where they are needed. They are perfect for commercial use, and they can run on diesel or gasoline. Some homeowners also use portable generators to power their homes in the event of blackouts. Generators come in 2 basic types, the first being your conventional generator and second, the inverter generator.
Here is more information on the difference between standby and portable generators.
What Are The Sources Of Energy For Generators?
In the early years, generators were hardly portable. They were machines driven by turbine movement, and their energy sources include hydropower from hydroelectric dams, nuclear energy from nuclear plants, solar energy from solar plants, and coal combustion steam. These generators were designed to power entire cities.
Portable (including many solar generators) and standby generators of today however have more energy source options that allow them to be easily transported or be used for residential homes. Here are some of them:
Fuel cells use electrochemical energy conversion to convert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity. They have many advantages compared with other energy sources, such as higher efficiency, more silent compared to internal combustion engines, more environment friendly since its only by-product is water, helps eliminate greenhouse gases, reduces dependency on oil producing nations, and simple maintenance.
Diesel is mostly used for portable generators. Diesel generators usually have automatic off switches to prevent damages to your load or appliances when power is restored while the generator is running. It will also automatically shut off if fuel is too low. It needs lesser maintenance than gas-powered generators and more efficient, has longer generator life, more rugged, more reliable, and they are safer than gas-powered generators.
Natural gas can be used to produce backup power for both household and commercial needs. Natural gas is efficient, dependable, cleaner, safer, and more environment friendly than other energy sources. It is also cheaper to obtain and maintain compared to diesel. Natural gases are non-toxic to animals and humans, making it safer for home and residential use.
Propane is a by-product of natural gas processing and the refining of petroleum. A propane generator uses the energy released from the combustion of propane. Propane can be used for both standby and portable generators. Compared to gas and diesel, liquid propane is cleaner and has infinite shelf life. It can easily be stored in cylinder tanks so there is no risk of spills and wastes.
Why Do You Need Alternative Power Sources?
There are many reasons why you should invest in an alternative power source like a generator for your home. Being prepared for emergencies is one main reason and we're all becoming used to unpredictable weather. Having a generator (whether portable or standby) available can make a huge difference in the event of power outages in your area.
Power outages, though they may be short-lived, can affect our work and our home life and it's really important to be ready for them.
For instance, when an outage occurs at night, you will need to have your lights restored first. Then there is the need to power your small but important gadgets, such as your laptops, smartphones, and tablets. These electronic devices have become more than just tools for communication; we need them to be productive both at work and in our daily lives. Being ready for short and frequent outages is as essential as being ready for major blackouts.
Natural disasters such as hurricanes, typhoons, floods, and earthquakes can leave many properties and lives damaged. The many damages caused by these deadly natural disasters can include a downed power grid. Outages due to emergencies and disasters may take a while longer to be fixed. Thus, an emergency generator that will last you longer is definitely needed.
If you live in a disaster-prone area, consider investing in a reliable alternative power source that will ensure the continuity of your daily normal routine. Your generator must be able to support your normal and critical needs which may include heating, cooking, any medical equipment or support, lighting, and your small electronic gadgets and devices. Your best bet would be a standby generator, which can provide uninterrupted power for days.
An outage is not the only thing that will call the need for a generator. Going on an adventure on the great wild and outdoors may also call for the need of an alternative power source. A camping trip can be made more fun and enjoyable with a portable camping generator or even a portable phone power pack.
A camping generator should be enough to power a few essential appliances, it must be quiet, and it must produce minimum fumes. A generator, when you are on the road, can help you jump start your car, bike, or boat battery. It can help you have a well-lit and safer camping site. It can help you avoid having your smartphones drained, for your safety and connectivity with the outside world.
Lastly, it can make you enjoy some simple luxuries on your trip: some music, coffee and food that does not taste of smoke from the camp fire!
Choose The Right Generator For You And Your Needs
Choosing the right generator for you will depend on your need and your purpose. List down the appliances and their power ratings that you believe you really need even during power blackouts and emergencies. The bigger the capacity of your generator, the more expensive it will be.