Electrical power in the homes is often taken for granted- until we lose power. What would you and your family do if one day you woke up to no electricity or an emergency situation or natural disaster caused a power outage. How would you provide heat for your family? How would your family cook food or charge their cell phones?
I have been in this situation, where during the midst of a hurricane the entire city lost power for weeks. It was easy to charge little things, such as laptops, cellphones, radios and medical devices using power from the car, however it is not something that you can rely on, eventually you will kill the battery in your vehicle and it is not always a convenient option. There were times that I told myself, “I wish I were better prepared by having a generator.”
Don’t let this be you
Don’t let this be you, prepare yourself by having a generator. With so many types and sizes of generators on the market., how do you know which size and type of generator works best for you? This guide will provide you with all the information that you need to know about choosing the right generator, and the difference between the different generators, so that you are able to produce electrical energy for your home in an emergency situation.
Questions to ask yourself
What are your daily power needs?
Are you trying to power the entire house, or do you just need the bare essential?
How often do you lose power?
Do you live in a disaster prone area?
How much are you willing to invest in a generator?
If you are in a disaster prone area then you are going to want a larger
Things to consider
When deciding on the type of generator that you should purchase, you need to consider the following:
- Environmental effect
Determining your power needs/choosing the right size generator
How do you determine what your daily power needs are? First, you want to think of all the appliances that you will need to use. Some of the main appliances that you need to consider should be the following:
- Air conditioner
- Pressure pumps
You need to know the starting watts and running watts required to run each appliance. What’s the difference?
Starting watts- Power that is needed to start up an appliance. It tends to be higher than what is needed to keep an appliance running.
Running(rated) watts- This is the amount of energy used to keep the appliance going.
You also need to know what voltage the appliance runs at. The most common in the US is 120V, however some electrical tools might run at 220V. This information is listed on the label of the appliance.
Finding the right type of generator
When it comes to generators, the following types of generators can power your entire home and connect directly to your home’s circuit breaker panel:
- Home standby
- Large inverter
How do generators run?
Generators have engines that convert different forms of energy sources into electricity that you use for your appliances. These types of energy sources include the following:
- Natural gas
When it comes to choosing generators, you should know the pros and cons of each type of generator. This section will go over the different types of generators, pros and cons, and the best appliances and situation each type is
Gasoline- Gasoline is probably the most readily available generator however, they are not efficient and you can burn through a lot of gas. This is because only 20% of the energy is used for electricity. The longer that you burn the generator the more you will burn through the fuel.
Propane- Propane is also not very efficient but it is readily available and you can install a thousand gallon propane tank underground at your house.
Diesel- Diesel generators are very efficient. You will pay more money for a diesel generator but they are more sturdy and durable than gas generators. The down fall is they are generally not portable
Solar/portable solar panels– Solar generators use energy from the sun to generate electricity. They consist of 3 basic elements:
- Solar panels
- Charge controller
The panels convert sunlight into electricity, the battery stores the power, the controller controls the flow and the inverter takes the power from the battery converting it in what is needed to power your appliances.
This type of generator is easy to maintain and care for. You wash panels once in a while and replace the inverter when it is ready to be replaced. These generators last roughly 20-25 years because there are no moving parts on this generator to wear it down. Panels can be roof-mounted or portable.
Downfall with this type of generator- portable panels require safe storage and this type of generator is better suited for low-current appliances. Power storing can be affected by the weather, a very expensive option to set up.
Multi-fuel- These generators allow you to use different types of fuel to supply energy for electricity. The plus with this is that you can use whatever type of fuel is readily available to you at the time.
When you are looking for the right size or type of generator, here are some tips to help choose which generator will best suit your needs:
- It’s better to go with a generator that is too big rather than too small. The last thing you need to worry about when you lose power, is your generator being overloaded and shutting down.
- When you are choosing a generator look at both the starting watts and running watts.
- If you are still unsure about the size generator that you need, the rated wattage to run the essential equipment in your home all at once is about 5,000 to 7,500 watts. To run your house you would typically need around 10,000 watts.
- Using generators at full capacity shortens the life span of the generator.
Depending on what you need to run during an emergency or how often you need to use the generator throughout the year, will determine the best generator that will suit your needs. A portable generator is sufficient for you if you are not prone to constant power outages or only need to use it in emergencies.
If you are prone to disasters, a larger unit installed with a transfer switch is best to use. It is best to try and use a variety of different types of generators based on what your needs are.