This time last year, the Seattle area was undergoing its own wall of white, something we affectionately called “snowmaggedon;” it left more than 12,000 area residents without power for 1-4 days. During a recent snowstorm in January 2020, several communities were without power for several days. Even in the most sophisticated urban centers, outages can happen. If you live in an area that frequently gets power outages, you may have even considered purchasing a generator. It’s nice to have a fallback. Having a way to restore power to your home makes it a lot easier to weather the storm.
Not all generators are created equally. There is a big difference between portable and standby generators when it comes to cost, convenience and how much of your home you can re-power.
Portable Generators: There are steps involved. First, a portable generator needs to be relocated from its indoor storage or garage to a spot at least 20 feet away from the house, always outside. Second, connect the transfer cable from the generator to the circuit-breaker panel in the house. Third, you manually fire up the generator, which requires setting the choke, switching the unit to run mode and pulling the gas cable (similar to starting a gas lawnmower). Portable generators can use up to 20 gallons of gasoline a day, which means storing large quantities of fuel with stabilizer. Portable generators tend to be noisier and produce less power (wattage) than what’s known as “standby” models. You’ll want to manage the power you get by only starting with one critical appliance at a time. During bad weather, you may need to protect the generator with a cover of some sort while it’s running outdoors. Still, it’s an option.
Standby Generators: Standby generators are those that are installed permanently by professionals. They are protected by an insulated weatherproof housing that keeps them relatively quiet. They are connected to natural gas (not gasoline) so they can run uninterrupted if needed. Standby generators start automatically, within seconds of a power outage. The power generated is transferred to the main circuit breaker panel, through a whole house transfer switch. The standby generator can be sized to handle the entire power needs of the house, and with regular maintenance is relatively worry-free. If you have a loved one running critical medical equipment, the standby kicks in right away, leaving nothing to chance. The generator starts regardless of if anybody is home, which gives homeowners a great sense of security. Although the initial investment is more substantial than its portable cohort, standby units can last about 15 years (we recommend maintaining every couple of years for maximum life).
If you are considering purchasing a generator, we can help you run through the appliances watt/kilowatt usage needed to keep your household running to make an informed decision about what makes sense for your household. Give BelRed Energy Solutions a call. We can help you keep the lights on during the next power outage.