In a perfect world, everyone would have uninterrupted access to electricity. In the real world, however, things aren’t so simple. Power outages are an unfortunate reality for many people, and they can occur at any time and place—even in your own home.
Even if you live in a safe neighborhood with attentive neighbors and responsive law enforcement, there’s no telling when a natural disaster might strike that will affect the electricity or how long it will last.
Armed with this information, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that millions of people globally experience power outages on a regular basis. With this in mind, it’s important to develop a plan for keeping your essential appliances running during an extended power outage.
What is an Emergency Power Source?
In the most basic sense, an emergency power source is any device that provides power to your home during a power outage. Most people think of generators when they hear the term “emergency power source,” but there are actually several other devices that fit this description.
Backup batteries, power inverters, and even solar panels can all be used to provide emergency power in a pinch.
These devices are typically connected to your most important appliances, such as the refrigerator, freezer, water heater, and furnace, but they can also be used to power lights and other small appliances that are essential in an emergency situation.
In short, an emergency power source allows you to continue living a normal life even when the power goes out.
Importance of Having a Backup Generator
The most important thing about having a generator is that it can provide backup power when your local electric utility fails. Depending on where you live, this could happen quite often.
These outages can last from a few hours to a few days and can be caused by natural disasters like storms or wildfires, or man-made events like vehicle collisions with power poles.
Generators can be used to power essential appliances like refrigerators and freezers, water pumps, and heating systems, as well as important safety systems like smoke detectors and CO alarms.
It’s important to note that generators aren’t designed to power your entire home. According to Amgis, a renowned transformer manufacturer, any professional generator installation company can help you determine the maximum load you can safely run on your generator.
When selecting a generator, it’s also important to consider its power rating, fuel type, and noise level. Generators that are too small to power your home are not helpful and may even be dangerous.
6 Important Factors to Look for When Purchasing a Generator
Before you buy any generator, you’ll want to make sure it’s the right one for you. Here are six important factors to keep in mind:
|Generator Capacity||The amount of power your generator can deliver is called its capacity. So the first thing you should do is choose the right capacity for your family and the appliances you want to power.
The capacity of your generator should match or exceed your home’s daily energy needs.
|Fuel Type||There are three main types of fuel that generators use: gas, diesel, and propane.
Gas and propane are easier to obtain than diesel, which can be hard to find in some areas.
Gas-powered generators are very good for residential use. They’re easy to start and run much quieter than other types of generators.
Diesel-generators, on the other hand, are typically more powerful than gas-powered generators, but they’re also much louder.
They require frequent maintenance and often need a special type of fuel called diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) to operate efficiently.
|Run time||Run time refers to how long your generator can continuously power your home before needing to be refueled.
Ideally, you’ll want to find a generator with a long run time—at least 8 hours or more.
|Ease of Use||Depending on who you are and what you’ll be using your generator for, you might want to prioritize ease of use.
For example, if you want to use your generator for the occasional power outage or other emergency, such as a snowstorm, you might want a simple, plug-and-play model.
If you want your generator to be a permanent backup source, you might want a more versatile model that allows you to customize it to your needs.
|Brand Reputation||It’s important to keep in mind that generators are machines that are designed to be used on a regular basis.
With this in mind, be sure to purchase a generator from a company with a good reputation for reliability and customer satisfaction.
|Price||Finally, you should consider your budget. You don’t want to spend too much on a generator, but you also don’t want to skimp on quality.
You want a generator that is durable, reliable, and is backed by a solid warranty.
Different Types of Generators
|Standby generators||Standby generators are the most common type of home generator.
Standby generator systems are designed to automatically start up when the power goes out, providing backup power for your home’s essential appliances.
If you’ve ever witnessed a generator start up automatically during a power outage, that was probably a standby generator coming online.
Standby generators can be fueled by propane, natural gas, gasoline, or diesel.
Diesel generators are typically used for industrial applications, while the other three options are primarily used for residential applications.
|Inverter Generator Systems||An inverter generator system is a type of generator that runs on a DC power source.
This type of generator is often used to power sensitive electronics during an outage.
|Portable Generator Systems||Portable generators are designed to be moved from one place to another.
They are often used for construction sites because they are highly portable. However, they can also be used as backup generators.
Reasons to have a backup generator
- Sustained power: If you have a large appliance or resource that requires extended periods of power, a generator can help keep that resource running while the outage is being resolved.
- Backup power: Even if your outage lasts just a few hours, a generator can help reduce the stress associated with the event.
Pros and Cons of Owning a Generator
|Provides sustained power||If you’ve ever experienced a power outage, you know just how frustrating it can be to lose access to your favorite appliances.
Your lights go out, your televisions and computers shut down, and your refrigerators stop cooling.
A generator prevents these inconveniences by keeping your essential electrical appliances running during a power outage.
|Expensive upfront costs||The cost of purchasing a generator can be quite expensive.
This may be the biggest drawback of owning a generator, especially for people who live in areas that rarely see extended power outages.
|Reduces stress during an outage||A generator can help reduce the stress associated with a power outage by providing backup power to your home’s essential appliances.||Loud noise||The noise emitted from a generator can be loud and disruptive.
In some cases, the sound of a generator can be loud enough to violate local noise ordinances.
|Comfort||Having a generator means that you’ll never have to be uncomfortable in your own home during a power outage.
You can keep your lights on, your appliances running, and even the heat running using a generator.
|Risk of carbon monoxide poisoning||While generators are designed to reduce carbon monoxide emissions, they still pose a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
You can reduce this risk by installing a CO detector near the generator and keeping it away from sensitive parts of your home.
|Keeps Your Home Safe||If your home’s security system runs on a local power grid, an outage can leave you vulnerable to criminals and burglars.
But with a generator, you can keep your home safe by powering important safety equipment, such as security lights, CCTVs, alarm systems, CO alarms, sump pumps, and water filtration systems.
Emergency power sources are one of the most important pieces of gear you can own, and for good reason.
With the right emergency power source, you can rest easy knowing that your home is prepared for the unexpected and will remain comfortable, safe, and fully powered even after a widespread power outage.