The good news is, powering the entire home really isn’t necessary—as long as the system you choose can adequately power your essentials. If you’re considering a standby generator, here’s what you should know.
How a Standby Generator Works
In short, a standby generator is always, literally, “standing by.” Permanently installed outside the home, it is designed to automatically operate when an outage is detected, and to provide uninterrupted power to the home. It can run indefinitely on natural gas, or be fueled by propane, making it the most convenient option for homes that frequently lose power for extended periods of time.
Who Needs a Standby Generator?
Outages from any variety of causes can result in a loss of power that lasts a few hours, a few days, or even longer. The more rural your area, and the more volatile the weather, the more often you could be affected – and the longer it could take for service to be restored.
If you find that you are losing power several times a year, for extended periods of time, or that even short power outages are creating a genuine hardship, a standby generator can be a sound investment. It’s also a great idea for anyone who would not feel comfortable handling (or may not be physically able to handle) a gas-powered, portable generator.
Assessing Your Needs
Purchasing a standby generator is a considerable investment. And when shopping for a generator, it’s easy for homeowners to get carried away and purchase one that is much too large and expensive for their actual needs.
KARP Associates Project Manager Gordon Jacobsen explains, “Here at the Idea House, we’ve selected a 14kW standby generator; it’s not going to run the whole house, but the homeowners can rest assured that the essential circuits will be powered automatically in the event of an outage.”
TIP: Walk through your house and consider which items would be absolutely critical to you in the event of a power loss. Check each item (either the manufacturer’s label or website) to find out how much wattage it uses to operate, then calculate an overall estimate. Keep in mind that some items, like central AC or larger appliances, require a surge of watts at start-up, so you’ll need to choose a generator with output that is 20-30% higher than the expected power load.
Still not sure? Champion’s Generator Selector can help.
Essentials to Consider
We all have our own ideas of what we would consider to be critical, but here are a few common items you might want to include on your essential checklist:
- Lighting: Few things will make you feel as vulnerable as sitting alone in the dark through a storm. Ample lighting is a security and safety measure that will provide peace of mind.
- Electronics: They’re not just frivolous devices; cell phones, computers and routers can be a source of storm information and a vital connection to the outside world, so it’s important to be able to keep them operating reliably.
- Refrigerator: Besides the obvious advantage of not having to toss out a fridge full of spoiled food, if anyone in your home is reliant on refrigerated medications, being able to keep those items cool is of the utmost importance.
- Electric water heaters: All electric water heaters, and many gas-powered ones, need electricity to function; without electricity, you’ll be taking cold showers until the power returns.
- Heating & cooling equipment: Very cold or very hot temperatures can become extremely uncomfortable—and even dangerous. You’ll want to be sure you have the ability to heat or cool at least one room in your home, especially if you share it with very small children or vulnerable elderly persons.
- Well/sump pumps: If your home relies on well water, you’ll want to keep it flowing until power is restored. And ensuring continuous power to your sump pump can save you from a costly flood.
- Security system: Since these systems are hard wired they can only operate off a power source that goes through the electrical panel, such as a standby generator.
- Television: When the power is out, boredom can quickly set in, especially among children who want to be entertained. But you’ll also want to be able to stay tuned to local news for updates throughout a period of severe weather.
A Champion home standby generator provides peace of mind, security and convenience for your family during an emergency by automatically powering the essentials or your entire home. Find a dealer near you at championpowerequipment.com.