Buying a power generator is important for those who live in areas where there are frequent power outages. California, Texas, Michigan, and Pennsylvania top the list of states that experience the most outages. The power grids are old and need a huge amount of investment to function well. The aging equipment and the weather calamities cost the country $150 billion a year. This expense includes total electrical power outages, surges, and spikes.
Since 1992 the weather-related outages have been rising steadily. Every year, the country is struck by storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes that disrupt the power lines. In Indiana, power outages are common and it takes hours and days for restoration.
If you have a generator running in the house you can continue watching TV as if nothing has happened while those who are in the dark will look to keep their food safe from spoilage. In the coastal areas where the humidity levels are high, it takes a little time for food to rot. One has to drive down to the grocery store to buy more groceries or has to eat out. This makes for undue expenses which may be beyond many budgets.
In the case of an emergency, everyone has to be well prepared. Now with the modern generators, you do not have to do anything when the power goes out. The unit turns itself on using the automatic transfer switch. Your electrical lines will continue to be powered up by a generator when utility power fails.
If you plan to buy a power generator think of the following before making a choice:
Inverter or Non-Inverter
Good inverter generators give you stable energy for any device while the non-inverter ones can damage sensitive electronic circuits. If you use laptops and have the modern alarm systems choose an inverter. The ones that can power up your entire house are comparatively a lot more expensive than the non-inverter ones.
Portable or Standby Generator
Portable generators are easy to manage and are also less costly. You will have to manually start it up and plug it into a sub panel or home appliances. The cost depends on power output. If you are on a budget you can power up essential items for much less. For popular units, the price ranges from $267 to $7,439. When you buy a portable unit, do plug in a carbon monoxide detector in your house which will alert you when the generator exhaust peaks to an unsafe level.
Standby generators, on the other hand, can be powered by natural gas and can start automatically if you have a transfer switch. You can run your entire house on a 22kW generator. Generac 7043 22kW Guardian Generator with 200A SE Transfer Switch costs only $4,697.00 and has a harmonic distortion of less than 5% which makes it a good option for a modern day family. It disconnects you from utility power and turns itself on to transfer power to the electrical panel.
A must read: How to Live Without Electricity
Choose the Right Output
During an emergency, it is not necessary to power up each and every appliance. Make a list of the essentials such as a freezer, refrigerator, sump pump, air conditioner, heater, and microwave and add up the wattage they use. Look for the tag on each item to check the minimum and maximum wattage requirements. You can also get the same information online. Use the minimum watts while calculating and then select a power generator that can handle 2 times the calculated amount.
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD)
The older generators have a higher THD and therefore can damage your laptops, LCD TVs, cell phones and tablets. Choose a unit which has no more than 5% THD. Check the technical specifications carefully to ensure you buy a good unit. Branded items are better and are backed by 5-year warranties. When buying Generac look for True Power Technology and with Kohler, look for Premium Power Quality.
Choose a Low Decibel Level
If you live out in the wilderness the decibel level may not matter at all. For those who live in a residential neighborhood, it is important to have a quieter unit so neighbors do not complain. Look for a Generac generator that is 10dB quieter than other units.
Related article: How to quiet a noisy generator
Gas Powered or Diesel
While diesel generators are robust and reliable they also make a lot of noise and give out fumes that are dangerous for health. If cost is your concern and your neighbors never complain about the noise you make then buy a diesel generator. If you want a constant supply of gas you can buy a unit that runs on kitchen gas.
Save on Cost
Compare cost and look for rebates and discounts. Select a good brand that offers 5-year warranties. The smaller units are less costly and take the lesser load. If cost is your concern get a small unit to run only the essential items.
After you shortlist a few generators online, read their reviews. This way you can use other user’s experiences to come to the right decision.
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4 thoughts on “8 Tips for Choosing the Best Power Generator”
In the article you stated that every year, weather-related outages keep steadily rising. I’ve noticed this in my own life, and have been thinking about getting a generator. I’ll have to find a place that sells powerful generators, as my family is quite large and we require quite a bit of power. Thank you for the tips.
I found your comment on finding a generator with a low decibel level makes sense. I like how you say that you would want to have a quiet generator if you live in a neighborhood. My brother is looking for a generator so he’ll have to find one that will service his needs but also be quiet.
I really like how you warned against diesel generators being louder and more dangerous for health than a regular gas one. I’ve been looking for a good generator that could power our RV trailer when we don’t have outlets, and I think that getting a reliable gas powered one would suit our needs perfectly. I don’t think the diesel generators are something we need to look at yet, but maybe if we get the whole family up there without power! Thanks for the help!
You are right about power outages, especially in Michigan. Anywhere there are above ground power lines and an older electrical grid and infrastructure can incur more power outages than normal. People should remember that food safety, lights, heat, a/c and security systems all require electricity and the cost of a generator is mostly outweighed by food spoilage or water damage after a storm when power is out.