Choosing the right generator
Using a small standby generator for electricity during an outage can keep your home and business running smoothly. In a power failure, plug your generator into the panel with a special power cord and then switch the circuits from utility to power to your generator.
Types: the two main types of residential generators are portable and permanent standby.
Sizes: standby generator sizes range from an output of 1 kw to over 100 kw. If you plan to run a few lights and minimal appliances, you can use a smaller model, but if you intend to run all your lights and several major appliances, you will need a permanent standby model.
Fuel: engines usually run on gas or diesel, but models are also available for propane or natural gas.
How to choose a generator
Get power for the basics. Smaller, portable models will power basic needs and cost $1,000 or less.
Match the size of your generator to your electrical needs. Operate it at no more than 75% of its capacity.
Calculate your generator size. Total the wattage of the appliances and other items you want to simultaneously power and then double that number. Most homeowners will need a 5-kilowatt portable generator to power a heating system and a few other appliances.
Consider a manual transfer switch. It costs around $500 and should be installed by a licensed electrician.
- Store your generator outside in a dry location to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Never plug a generator into any electric outlet in your home or business. It can be deadly.
- Follow all instructions on properly “grounding” the generator.
- Turn off the generator for at least five minutes before fueling to avoid fires.
- Keep extension cords out of the way so they don’t present a tripping hazard.