How To Select A Home Standby Generator ?
Blizzards, Ice Storms, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, a careless driver striking a power pole — there is no end to the natural and man-made disasters that can shut the power down at your home. In the past people would light some candles, fire up the gas stove, and tough it out. But now, with most homes being nearly 100% electric, losing power can be more than an inconvenience; it can be life-threatening.
Fortunately standby power generators, once exclusively used by factories and large companies, are within the financial reach of any home owner. They’re safe, quiet, and efficient. In fact, the only issue is: Which generator is right for you?
All about the output (Watt)?
Generators are sold by wattage rating. If you were absent from school on that day, you might not know that wattage is sort of the electrical equivalent to horsepower. Remember Ohm’s law? Don’t worry, I didn’t either. Anyway, Watts = Volts x Amps and Amps = Watts/Volts. While theoretical knowledge is a wonderful thing, here’s some more practical information to help you select the right home standby generator for you.
How to calculate Power Consumption ?
Most every electrical appliance has a tag somewhere that will tell you at least two of the numbers that you need to calculate the right size emergency generator for you. If you have volts and amps, you can use Ohm’s law to calculate the watts.
Of course, if they list the watts, then you’re all set — almost. Electrical motors require up to four times as much wattage to start up than they do to keep running. It’s got something to do with inertia and friction, but I was absent on that day as well. So, a good rule of thumb is to multiply the wattage on the label (or the wattage that you calculated) by 4 if you’re dealing with any electrical appliance that has a motor.
When it comes to calculating the wattage required to run electrical lighting, you could have been absent from school for the entire year and still get this one right. It’s printed right there on top of the bulb. That means, if you want to power a 60 watt light bulb, then you’ll consume… yep, 60 watts of power.
The following chart lists the average wattage for the average household appliances. Use these figures only as a guideline as your appliances may be extraordinarily un-average.
Typical Home Appliances Wattage Requirement Appliance
(multiply Watts x 4 to determine startup requirements for appliances with motors)
- Coffee Maker 1750
- 0 Dishwasher (no heat) 700 (2800)
- 1400 Electric Fry Pan 1300
- Electric Range 8-inch element 2100
- Microwave Oven 625 watts
- Refrigerator or Freezer 700 (2800)
- Clothes Washer 1150 (4600)
- Electric Clothes Dryer 5750 (23,000)
- Furnace (gas or fuel oil) 1/8 Horsepower 300 (1200)
1/6 Horsepower 500 (2000)
1/4 Horsepower 600 (2400)
1/3 Horsepower 700 (2800)
1/2 Horsepower 875 (3500)
- Lights as printed on bulb
- Radio 50 to 200 0
- Color Television 300
- 10,000 BTU Central Air Conditioner 1500
If you were planning to power everything listed above then, at first glance, you might think that you’re going to need a 30,000 watt generator. Maybe buying a small nuclear reactor would make more sense. But wait! Look what happens when you apply a little power management logic to the formula.
Power Management 101
The first thing to remember is that the maximum wattage for anything motor-driven is only used when the motor first starts up. Moments later it drops down to the normal running wattage. So, you need to select a generator that outputs enough wattage to handle the appliance with the highest startup rating. Then, simply make sure no two appliances are started at the same moment and you can dramatically cut down your calculation.
The second thing to remember is that the total of the running wattage column is only an issue if you plan to run every appliance, all at the same time, and all day and night. So you see, by simply mapping out a reasonable power management schedule you can cut way back on the size of your power requirements. For most people a 2500 watt generator will do the trick.
Fuel Requirements :
Although diesel-powered generators exist, they are typically used in commercial and industrial environments. For us homeowners there is a choice between gasoline and liquid propane gas (LPG). As a rule of thumb, the LPG models run quieter than the gasoline models. Fuel consumption varies depending upon the horsepower rating of the generator’s engine. An 8 HP model will run about 10 hours +-, at full load, while an equivalent LPG model runs 1 hour for every 5 lbs of fuel that it burns.
How to Start Your Engines
There are 3 basic ways to fire up a generator. Some models come with a recoil starter, just like a lawn mower’s starter, other come with an electric (battery) push-button starter, and other comes with an auto start switch, also called a transfer switch, that must be wired directly to your home’s existing electrical system.
If you lose power frequently, or there is some device in your home that must remain powered on at all times for health or security reasons, then a transfer switch-equipped standby generator will virtually ensure that you have power even if you are not home when the outage occurs. Summary
Now that you have the basic facts, go ahead and make your own wattage consumption chart. Then devise your personal power management program, decide if you need a transfer switch or not, and go shopping for the peace of mind that an emergency generator will bring in times of trouble.
Inexpensive Home Standby Generators
Purchasing inexpensive home standby generators will entirely depend on a number of things. Don’t just buy home generators on impulse – you have to know first your power needs and perform a careful product research after. It has been tried and tested that consumers almost always get the right inexpensive home standby generators by knowing what they want and need.
You’ll never know when natural calamities such as earthquakes, extreme weather conditions, and other unexpected disasters could take down all your power lines and cause a widespread electrical shortage. If ever that happens, you definitely have to be completely prepared. Actually, your neighborhood would be more prepared if inexpensive home standby generators were found at your homes.
As what has been mentioned earlier, the term “inexpensive” will only be possible if you are able to choose the right type of generator for your home. Basically, home generators are available in two types: transportable generator and fixed (standby) generator.
Although transportable generators are generally cheap (around $500 to $2,000), they’re only effective for short-term power shortage and are not suitable for massive blackouts.
Fixed (standby) generators require the expertise of a seasoned electrician for the installation process. These are hooked to your home’s electrical system and directly take the required natural gas or propane fuel from your city’s pipelines. Usually, fixed generators will cost at around $2,000 to $20,000, which respectively have watt ranges of 12 kW to 75 kW. These are an ideal source of long-term and continuous electricity because of its connection configuration.
Since a watt (wattage) has been mentioned, this is also important to consider when buying inexpensive home standby generators. The important role you’re going to play on this part is to decide the important appliances that you need the generator to support. From there, the rest would be easy because your dealer or electrician would gladly do the math for you. Actually, watts that are below the minimum requirement indicate that your generator would have to work harder to keep up with the demand (eventually, that will potentially destroy it). But too much watts also mean increased fuel consumption, which translates to increased fuel cost.
When looking for dealers, it’s always recommended that you get one closer to your location or browse through the internet. Make sure that these dealers carry trusted brands such as Lowes, G.E., Yamaha, and Generac. For example, the Generac Guardian Series includes fixed generators that are available in 8 kW to 60 kW. This series features an automatic transmitter switch that quickly activates standby generators within 10 seconds (the package also comprises a mounting pad). You won’t have to worry about expensive fuel cost because this consumes less amounts of it.