When power outages strike, home AC power
generators provide a convenient
for electricity. Model choices
for your home
depend on these factors:
- Capacity - are you trying to provide power
for the whole house, or just a few appliances?
- Convenience - will it start automatically,
by key start, or pulling a cord, and will
it automatically provide power without throwing
a transfer switch?
- Noise - will you be able to keep power to
your house without waking the neighbors?
- Installation requirements - is it portable
or permanently mounted on a concrete pad?
The first and most important factor is the
capacity. Generators are rated in watts (the
"load"). You add up the wattage
for the lights and appliances you wish to
run off the generator to estimate the minimum
capacity required. Note: Appliances with
electric motors that draw a spike of power
when they kick on (such as refrigerators)
should be estimated as requiring three times
their running load. While a capacity of 2500
watts can handle most refrigerators and a
few small appliances and lamps, homeowners
will want to look in the 3000-5000 watt range
to satisfy most of their electrical needs.
Many portable models need to be started by
pulling a cord (like a lawnmover), but more
expensive models feature key starters --
an important for elderly or infirm homeowners.
Some advanced models start up automatically
on a monthly basis for testing, or whenever
they sense a power outage. -- a handy feature
if power goes out frequently in your area.
You also need to plan how you will get the
electricity from the generator to your appliances.
One option is to unplug your applianes and
then plugged them into a heavy-duty extension
cord running outside to the generator. Better
yet, you might want to install the generator
permanently outside and tie it into the entire
house electrical system using a manual or
automatic transfer switch. However, remember
not to exceed the capacity of the generator.
Most permanently installed generators
almost all portable models run
Similar to a lawnmower running,
be noisy. Look for quieter models
live in a dense neighborhood,
or one that
runs on an alternative fuel,
such as natural
Permanent installation needs to be done by
a qualified electrician and probably requires
a concrete pad and a building permit. Professional
installers will observe electrical isolation
guidelines involving the use of a transfer
switch so that your generator doesn’t backfeed
the neighborhood electrical grid and shock