When your power goes out, you can do one of two things. Light candles or switch to your emergency generator. Which one would you rather do?
Is your home ready for a power outage? If you still use candles for light, you likely also see a lot of spoiled foods from a warm fridge. It may be time for you to get a power generator for your home.
Our lives revolve around electrical and digital technology nowadays. In 2017 alone, the average American home used 10,399 kWh. Many people find that their work or chores get put on pause when power outages occur.
To avoid these inconveniences, get a portable generator for your home. Below, we’ll tell you why and how. Read on further for some tips for your generator.
- Why a Home Generator Matters
How prepared are you for sudden blackouts? Don’t wait until the time you need a generator comes. Prepare for blackouts at home with your own portable generator.
You could be working on a report when the electricity goes out. What can you do?
Without a home generator, your best chance is to wait until the electricity comes back. With a generator at home, you only need to plug some things in. You could then continue where you left off.
This is the case for emergency generators. A standby generator is more convenient. It starts on automatic during a power outage.
This is vital if you’re running a business from home. You don’t need to keep everything powered up. The water and lights, your PC, and the fridge are enough.
- How Powerful a Generator You Need
Portable generators come in different sizes or electrical capacity. A generator’s electrical capacity tells how large or powerful it is. Find out the power or wattage of the generator you need.
A generator’s power depends on the sum of the loads you want to run at the same time. Make a list of the essential electrical functions you want to power during a blackout. These can be things like the fridge, lights, and such.
Appliances like air conditioners and stoves take up a lot of electricity when they start up. f you plan to use these, you need a generator that can handle the extra power requirements. Most portable generators won’t be able to support these.
There are two wattage ratings for every generator. These are the running wattage and the surge wattage. When you buy a generator, base your pick on the running wattage.
The surge wattage will align with what you need based on your running wattage. Generators have ratings for surge wattage. They should have extra capacity in case your load needs are larger than what you calculated.
There are many home generators for sale that come with different wattages. As long as you make the right calculations, you shouldn’t have too many problems. You can use online wattage calculators or sizing worksheets from retailers.
Considering Your Wattage Needs
When you calculate, consider the kind of load you are powering. There are two kinds: reactive loads and resistive loads. Resistive loads use the same amount of power to start and run.
Reactive loads will need extra power to run the equipment. Often, the extra power is three times the power needed to run it. Examples of reactive loads are refrigerators, well pumps, and power tools.
Determine your basic home power needs with three considerations. One is if you use well water. The other is your heating system and the third is how your water heats.
If you use well or city water, the wattage will be different. Pumps for wells need a generator larger than 240 volts. In other words, powering up a well pump will involve 3800 watts or above.
Your heating system may be electric, via a heat pump, or gas. Gas or oil-forced air systems are good with generators as little as 2500 watts. Base the power you need on the size of the furnace fan motor.
If your furnace is electric, the typical wattage needed is 15,000 watts or more. This is the same with heat pumps. A portable generator cannot power these.
Water heaters have a similar case. For gas or oil-fired heaters use 2500 watts or higher. Electric heaters often will need 4500 watts.
If your home has a smaller furnace and uses city water, 3000 to 5000 watts should be able to cover your needs. A larger furnace and/or a well pump will need a generator of 5000 to 6500 watts.
- Prepare Your Home for a Generator
After you figure out your load, you need to get your house ready for the generator. The first thing you need to do is to get a transfer switch installed. Below, we’ll explain further what it is and how it works.
A professional electrician should install the transfer switch. Get a hookup installed as well. This is where you will plug your generator from outside.
The next thing you should do is get an area ready for your generator. Clear out space in your shed that’s large enough for your chosen generator. Keep it in a dry and clean place.
When you get your generator, practice installation. This way you know what to do when a blackout happens. It’s best to exercise your generator installation process a couple of times in a year.
What a Transfer Switch Is and Why You Need It
A transfer switch is a device you install to your electrical panel in your home. This connects to the circuits in the electrical panel that you want to power in a power outage. When you use your generator, you have a safe and more direct way to power your appliances.
Generator transfer switches make powering your house easier. You wouldn’t need to run extension cords into the house. Power management is easier since you can turn circuits on or off with a flick.
A transfer switch is a necessity by the National Electric Code for any connection of power to a home. A licensed electrician will install your transfer switch to your home. He will connect it to the main breaker box.
Never backfeed the house’s electrical system. This is connecting your generator to the electrical system without a transfer switch. This violates the electrical code and it is dangerous.
With your transfer switch and generator ready, you can look forward to continuing your work. You can even get a new creative hobby on your smartphone. Charging smartphones take up little power anyway.
- Plugging It to Your House
With your generator ready outside the house, get the attachment cord you’ll attach to the hookup. Plug it in. Often, you have to twist the plug about 15 degrees to secure the cable.
Move to the other end of the wire. Connect and secure your attachment cable to your generator. If you can, select the voltage you want.
Next, check that your generator has enough oil. Before you turn it on, check that the throttle is in the correct position as well. Depending on where you live, you may need to preheat the engine with the glow plug.
Start the generator as the manual says. Generators have different starting instructions depending on the model and manufacturer. You could flick a switch or pull a starter rope.
With your generator on, go to your breaker. Flip off the utility main and then turn on the generator main. Flip the breakers on your transfer switch one by one.
Enjoy your new source of power during a power outage. Keep track of the dates and duration of power outages with a power outage tracker. This time, you would know how much fuel you need to get until the electricity comes back.
To return to utility power, start from the last step you took. From there, do the reverse order of operations. Your last step is to make sure to let your generator cools down before you put it in storage.
- Tips for Using and Maintaining Your Generator
The generator makes a lot of noise and heat. If you need silence to work, keep it a good distance from the house. This is also to keep your home from catching fire should go wrong.
Don’t run a power generator inside the house. The generator’s combustion engines produce carbon monoxide. These gases are harmful to your health and can be deadly.
Make sure to make space for the fuel as well. This space for your generator fuel should be a good distance away from the generator itself. Keep it out of the area of flammable objects as well.
Never check the oil while the unit is running. Check the oil level on a monthly basis. Change the oil and oil filter every one or two years.
Change the air filter of your generator yearly. Your manual will have a location of your air filter and how you change it. Make sure to use filters that your generator’s manufacturers approve of.
Discover More Home Tips Today!
Now, you know how to survive a blackout. With a home generator around, you can complete your electrical and digital tasks. We hope you found this post informative and useful.
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