Coming face to face with a natural disaster- earthquakes, floods or hurricane can be terrifying. And being left without electric power due to a downed power grid further adds to the nightmare. Having an emergency back-up generator for events such as this is essential.
This is even more critical if you live in disaster-prone areas. A power outage could last for any number of days, so it makes sense to have a reliable power generator that keeps your home running and minimize the impact of an emergency.
There are two broad categories of portable generators that you can use to back up your home during a power outage
- standby generators and
- portable generators.
Your choice will depend on your power needs during an outage, the size and location of your home.
Standby generators are permanently installed (by professional electricians) outside the home and can be powered by propane, natural gas or gasoline. These generators are always connected to your house on standby and are designed to detect loss of power to your home, which triggers an automatic power up and switch over, seamlessly replacing lost power to your home. This feature is especially useful if there are life-preserving medical devices in the home that need to be constantly powered.
The type of generators can produce lots of power from 5,000-watts to over 50,000-watts without breaking a sweat and powering just about anything you can think of.
Uninterrupted power means that your household might never notice the power grid has been knocked out. However, this comes at a cost as they can be quite pricey.
But if you live in areas that have constant power outages, investing in a standby generator will be worth it in the long run. Apart from allowing you and your family to enjoy all the comfort of modern conveniences in an emergency outage, it can also be used to power your heater to prevent frozen pipes in extremely cold weather.
For a more affordable emergency power solution, consider a portable generator. These normally generate less power but offer more usage versatility. It is better suited for smaller homes or if your area only suffers power outages infrequently. They come in different sizes and power ratings – from a puny 1,000-watts to a beastly 18,000-watts – to cater to any application. You should also look out for transfer switch ready portable generators. This feature allows you to connect your generator straight to your breaker box to power your home during a power outage. For emergency back-up for homes, bigger models are preferable because of their larger tanks and therefore longer running times.
Consider what appliances and devices you do need during an emergency black-out and tally up their cumulative rating using a power calculator. This will give you a good idea of the ideal generator for your home.
Apart from power needs and cost considerations, a good emergency generator should also be durable and reliable because they might need to provide power non-stop for prolonged periods. They should be soundproofed enough to comply with existing local noise ordinance. They should also be very easy to start and operate; you wouldn’t want to be fiddling with a pull cord in the dark and in freezing weather.