Standby generators are common pieces of equipment for any household that wants to be prepared for a blackout or power outage. Any homeowner in a rural area, where loss of power regularly occurs, knows about the benefits of owning a standby generator.
Whole house standby generators are highly practical machines to have in any home. Outages can happen due to electrical storms, and other weather disturbances, anywhere at any time. Blackouts occur more often than is usually predicted. When they do, owning a standby generator can be the difference between waiting for the power to return in comfort or not. It can also save all the food in your fridge and chest freezer from spoiling.
Here is a buying guide to some of the best standby generators on the market now and reasons why having one in the home is so convenient.
What is a Standby Generator?
A standby generator is a backup for your house if there is a power outage. When the national or local grid power supplier in your area fails, an automatic standby generator will register the outage and begin to send power to the sockets and appliances in your home. This is why hospitals can keep their equipment running even during a blackout.
What makes a standby generator such a practical and convenient addition to the home is that once it is installed, it will be waiting for an emergency power outage with no additional set up. A gas or diesel operated portable generator will need to be manually set up by the homeowner after an outage. This means it is usually in the dark, usually in the cold or in a storm. Also you may not be home when the power goes out. What if you were away on vacation somewhere warm, but your home is in the midst of a Winter blizzard and the power is out for days? Pipes could freeze and burst, food in the fridge could spoil, presenting you with a terrible vision upon returning from vacation. That is why automatic generators are preferable.
Extra fuel will also need to be stored for a gas or diesel-powered portable generator. The storage has to be in safe containers and a fire hazard-free space. Gasoline has to be regularly replaced before it spoils, which is why a standby generator that is fully integrated into the home is a safer, easier option.
Why You Need a Whole House Generator
There were over 3,500 power blackouts across the United States in 2017. This led to over 36 million people being affected in various ways. Being left with spoiled food or falling in the dark and injuring oneself are some of the events caused by outages. On average, a power blackout lasts 81 minutes, but some areas lose power for many hours or even days.
Why the homeowner needs a whole house generator is to protect themselves from the minor and major fallout from such events. In winter, blackouts and power outages cause burst pipes and freezing temperatures. In summer, the family will be exposed to uncomfortable heat and food spoilage.
A whole house generator kicks into gear when the power goes out. Everything in the house keeps functioning as normal until the blackout is over. When a home has one of the best standby generators part of its structure, it also adds to the resale value of the house to potential buyers.
Who Needs a Home Standby Generator?
Anyone who wants to be prepared for unpredictable weather conditions needs a home standby generator. This is more important than most people think. Extreme weather temperatures are one of the leading causes of death in the elderly.
Home standby generators are the ideal partnership for both homeowner and manufacturer. Well-known brands, such as Briggs & Stratton and Generac, are household names in areas where the power grid is unreliable. These brands offer reliable backup power that keeps homeowners comfortable and safe. There is no reason not to utilize these appliances in your home if you want the best for your family.
What to Look for Before You Buy a Standby Generator for Your Home
The best standby generator for your home should factor in all the requirements that you need. You can discuss these with an electrician or standby generator installer. They will ask you questions like:
- Do you want an automatically controlled transfer switch or a manual one?
This is important to know before selecting a standby generator. Automatic switches change to generator power when sensing an outage. Manual switches need to be activated in person and do not cost much less than automatic switches.
- Will the generator be serving emergency loads or the entire house?
This information is key to determining the size of the transfer switch based the amperage. It also determines where the switch will be located and whether it needs to incorporate a utility disconnect and service entrance rating.
Other important requirements to consider, besides automatic switches and the size of the household’s power needs, are:
Depending on the size of the generator, the cost of fueling your generator can vary. As mentioned above, gasoline is a poor choice because of its shortened shelf-life. Other things you should keep in mind are the availability of the fuel where you live and whether you may require to re-fill the generator during longer outages.
Where you live will be the best indicator of what fuel type to choose. Check your local code requirements on what fuels are accessible. Propane is often not permitted in some city limits. If your on-site fuel is natural gas, it is possible for your generator to pull from this integrated source during blackouts because they will not be affected.
Standby generators will only be in operation during emergencies such as blackouts/power outages. As it is impossible to predict how long these will last, it is a good idea to check how much noise the system you want to install generates, so as not to exceed any noise ordinances. If your muffler is of good quality, it will be at an acceptable level. If not, check into adding a sound suppressor.
Space and Installation
A standby generator should be covered, or somewhat sheltered from rain and snow and allow easy access for service and trouble shootin. There are code requirements that stipulate minimum distances from walls and buildings when they are outside. For inside installations, the generator must abide by ventilation, exhaust fume, fuel supply, and flammable material proximity codes.
A licensed electrician is required by most town and city building codes as the installer of a standby generator. Some require a licensed plumber as well. The representative who helps you purchase your generator can help guide you towards choosing a competent professional.
When considering buying a standby generator, it is important to understand the duration of the warranty and what coverage is offered. If a generator seems like a better price, it might be because the warranty is for only two years. It is possible to find well-priced residential generators with warranties as long as five years.
A whole house generator with up to 20 kW power capabilities and a five-year warranty is the best appliance to choose within your price range.
Generators need to be properly maintained. This is to ensure the appliance will run as expected when an outage occurs. It is possible to hire the services of a generator maintenance program or to attend to the smooth running of the machine yourself.
You might have the best standby generator, but it will be worthless if you don’t care for it. Keeping your standby generator in good condition between the occasions when it is required will ensure it operates reliably every time. This vital appliance will bring peace of mind and comfort to your home for many years.