There’s nothing more frustrating than power going out in your home. It usually happens during severe weather characterized by high winds and heavy downpours. The threat of ice and snow during winter can also knock out power. In situations like this, you need an emergency generator to ensure the continued use of electricity.
Local heating oil and delivery contractor Burch Oil also provides expert generator installation and repair. In this in-depth article, we take a look at the things you need to consider when selecting the right equipment for your home, as well as the reasons to invest in one.
Important Consideration to Keep in Mind
When investing in an emergency generator, you have to consider a few things first before making a purchase. These include the following:
Much like an air conditioner, an emergency generator comes in different sizes and wattages depending on your home’s needs. However, one of the primary aspects you need to look into is the type of generator. For this, you have two options: standby and portable.
A standby generator works automatically in the event of a power outage and can power an entire home. Like your outdoor HVAC unit, it is installed outdoors permanently. It requires professional installation since it will be hooked up to your home’s main utility panel and wired into your existing electrical system. It also needs fuel for it to operate; in fact, the heating oil used in furnaces also works well for generators. Depending on the standby generator you purchase, it can run on gasoline, propane, or natural gas.
If you are looking for limited power during sporadic outages, a portable generator might be a good choice for your home. It doesn’t power the entire home like the standby type, but it can ensure certain essentials are working smoothly like the AC system and refrigerator. It also runs on gasoline, but you have to operate it manually. Alternatively, there are portable generators that do away with the need for fuel. These are called portable power stations, and they are connected to a rechargeable battery or solar panel.
Except for portable power stations, standby and portable generators must be operated outdoors. That’s because both release carbon monoxide, which is harmful to one’s health if inhaled. For the standby type, you must pick the right spot for running it in case of an outage, preferably away from your windows or doors so the smoke doesn’t get inside your home. The portable type can be stored indoors, but see to it that you bring it outside before you operate it manually.
Aside from the type of generator, you also have to determine how much power you’re going to need. The power supply of a generator unit is expressed in watts—the more wattage, the more power it can provide. Generally, standby generators offer wattage between 5,000 and 20,000 watts, while portable units range from about 3,000 to 8,500 watts.
The wattage of your generator is dependent on the number of electric-powered items you want to keep running in the event of a power outage. Each one requires a “surge” wattage or the amount of power to turn it on, as well as ample wattage to keep it running. For instance, if you want to run only your air conditioner, refrigerator, and chargers for your phone and laptop, add the wattage of each to get the total. Then, buy a generator that can accommodate the surge wattage and the total wattage of the electric-powered items.
The level of maintenance should also be taken into consideration when choosing an emergency generator. If you are picking a standby generator, you want to make sure that it is ready when there’s a power outage. Professional maintenance is usually done either annually or bi-annually. When not in use, you have to turn it on at least once a week for 15 minutes to keep its inner workings running and in good condition. If used continuously, especially during a long outage, be sure to call a professional after 24 to 48 hours for an inspection. After ten days, the standby generator needs to have its oil and filters changed.
A portable generator, meanwhile, doesn’t require as much maintenance. However, you’d want to check its stored fuel level to make sure it is enough to operate it. In terms of storage, be sure it receives optimal protection to extend its lifespan. Sheds, tents, and covers are available to help make it easier.
Why Buy an Emergency Generator
An emergency generator might not be something you use every day, but you’ll be happy to have it when you do need it. Here’s a look at some of the things it can do for you.
Prevent Food Waste
Your refrigerator becomes useless when the power goes out. Since there’s no telling the exact time of power restoration, you’ll be dealing with food spoilage at some point, which is a waste of money. Having an emergency generator, however, helps prevent this from happening. With a backup power source, you can keep your refrigerator and freezer running smoothly, ensuring the long-term freshness of your fruits, vegetables and leftover food.
Keep Your Home Comfortable
When there’s a power outage, your home will be without the necessary amenities it often offers. The longer it lasts, the less comfortable it can be for you and your family. You can’t afford to sit out and wait for the power to return while everyone else is sweating (or shivering). With a backup generator providing power, your HVAC system still runs and provides consistent indoor comfort even during an outage.
Ensure Continued Use of Medical Equipment
Losing your Wi-Fi connection because of a power outage is one thing, but not being able to use electric-powered medical equipment in the same situation is a whole other thing. Ventilators and oxygen generators usually come with battery packs, but they only last for a few hours. Again, there’s no telling when power will be restored, which is why an emergency generator is a great addition to ensure uninterrupted care.
Need help choosing the right generator for your home? Get in touch with Burch Oil! We offer a wide selection of emergency generators from Carrier® that will fit your space and power needs. The ones we install can provide electricity to the whole house in a small, convenient unit. It can also be connected to your natural gas line so you don’t need to worry about tangled extension cords or gasoline. You can be sure our team of technicians who’ll install your unit are factory-trained and certified for your peace of mind.
Count on us for your heating oil delivery and HVAC services as well. Call (301) 373-2131 or fill out our contact form to get a free estimate.