During a power outage, expected or not, a backup generator can be a lifesaver — if you have one. If you don’t already own one, here’s what you should know before you go out and purchase one.
1. Know what appliances and devices need power, and which ones can go without.
Once you know which devices and appliances you’d like to keep running, you need to calculate how much power you will need. Consumer Reports provides the following breakdown of devices/appliances and their power needs:
Refrigerator: 600 watts
Sump pump: 750 to 1,500 watts
Portable heater: 1,500 watts
Window air conditioner: 1,000 watts
Lights: 60 to 600 watts
Computers: 60 to 300 watts
Generators vary by the amount of power they can deliver, but a typical generator provides 5,000 watts.
2. Identify the circuit breakers controlling the outlets that will need power.
You can purchase a device called a digital circuit breaker finder to identify the outlets that will need power and label them for future reference.
3. Know the different types of generators.
There are 4 types of generators:
Home Standby Generator
- Permanently installed
- Powered by natural gas or propane
- Automatically turn on during an outage
- Require professional installation
- Power range: 5,000 to 20,000 watts
- Cost range: $3,000 to $6,000
- Less expensive than home standby generators
- Powered by gasoline and require stabilizer for storage
- Produce high levels of carbon monoxide and should not be used indoors
- May require a battery
- Power range: 3,000 to 8,500 watts
- Cost range: $400 to $1,000
- Quieter than portable generators
- More efficient and produce fewer emissions
- Power range: 3,000 to 8,500
- Cost range: $500 to $4,000
Portable Power Station
- Battery-powered; also sold as “solar generators”
- Extremely quiet
- Don’t produce fuel emissions
- Can’t run for extended periods of time
- Don’t produce as much power as portable generators
- Cost range: $750 to $3,000
Before deciding on a generator, be sure to take the time to understand the different features and benefits. After purchasing a generator, carefully read through the safety manual to help prevent potential accidents during a power outage.
For more information about power generators, speak to a Blue Apple Electric certified electrician.