SHOPPING TIPS FOR BUYING A CONSUMER OR COMMERCIAL POWER GENERATOR
Copyright © 2007 Will Gruver
We live in a very comfortable world. Air-conditioning keeps us cool in summer and heaters make sure we never get too cold. We have cars so we don't have to walk anywhere, and there are countless kitchen appliances dedicated to making cooking so simple that a monkey could be gourmet chef.
None of these staples of daily life would be possible with the use of significant amounts of power, specifically electricity. Because of the chronic controversy surrounding petroleum, the significance of electricity in daily life is often overlooked and taken for granted.
It is only in the events of power outages that we are reminded of how much we depend on this ever-present power source. Times without power are the driving force for the markets concern about power generators.
Once a homeowner decides they need a power generator, there are many options available to them. Finding the right generator for their home cannot only be cost effective, but can save them a lot of hassle and frustration.
Generators come in one of two styles, either portable generators or back-up generators. Portable generators are easy to move and can be used where and as needed. Back-up generators are typically installed into the power grid and are activated in the event that it registers a power failure in the primary electric system.
For typical residential use, a portable generator is more than sufficient in the event of an emergency. Back up, or Standby, generators are typically used in facilities such as hospitals where a power loss of more than a minute could result in death, or in manufacturing plants where a power failure could result in a large amount of lost revenue.
Portable generators come in as many diverse shapes and sizes as the structures that they might be used to power. Choosing the right one depends on the amount of power needed to fuel all of the desired appliances.
The range of most portable generators is between 1,500 and 20,000 watts. While the average usage varies between most homes and the amount of usage, lights generally use about 50-200 watts each. Heaters and air conditions use about 6000 watts depending on their size and refrigerators and freezers use around 750 watts.
The best way to determine the size needed to power all essential appliances is to make a list and determine how much wattage it would take to run your entire list without causing system overheating. When making a list try to remember that a generator would be used in an emergency-type setting that would not require a wide variety of luxuries.
To use the energy produced by a portable power generator, appliances are frequently connected to the generator by an extension cord. Before purchasing a generator, determine how many plugs it should have and how many different style of plugs will need to be plugged into it.
Another option for powering essential systems is to have an electrician install a transfer switch in the home. This connects the generator directly to the central power system in the house. In the event of a power loss, simply start the generator, and turn on the switch. Transfer switches connect directly into the houses' power supply, so it is always best and safest to hire a professional to do this installation for you.
Most portable generators are gas powered. A few generators run on diesel or an assortment of other fuel sources. Natural gas and propane are a couple of the additional fuel sources available. More ecologically friendly generators are being developed that will get started with fuel, but they will work primarily off of electricity produced by an internal battery.
While most back-up generators are limited to commercial uses, there are residential versions available as well. These often restore power to a home in about 20 seconds, in the event of a power outage.
They are installed with automatic transfer switches that activate as soon as the power goes out and runs until power is restored. These generators work on natural gas and are generally hooked into the homes gas line to eliminate the need to refill them in inclement weather.
The power output for back-up generators is considerably greater than that of portable generators. They are generally available in ranges from 6,000 watts to upwards of 40,000 watts. Smaller units are available for those who do not wish to power their entire homes, but only key systems within the home.
No matter what style of generator you choose to install in your home, it is best to know exactly what you need. If you are only interested in providing yourself with the option to maintain basic operations in your home then a portable generator is more than adequate.
If your home is in an area prone to power outages, or if you rely on any type of life-saving equipment, then a back-up generator is probably the only option you should consider. Knowing how much power you need and having someone to safely install it can save you from numerous potential hazards to your health and overall well-being.
About The Author:
Written by: Will Gruver of US Power & Environment. USPE's Eden Prairie, MN headquarters, assisted by in-house product technical and operations specialists, has the experience gained from supplying, installing and maintaining on-site energy systems across the country and around the world. They buy, sell, rent and repair natural gas and diesel power generators. To learn more, visit their website at: http://www.uspowerco.com or give them a call at: 1-888-515-USPE