In any given year, everyone in the United States can expect at least one power outage and anywhere from around 2 to 4 hours in a given year. Of course, that’s an average across all the US and covering around 328 million people.
In practice, some locations suffer far more frequent power outages. Some areas are prone to extreme weather events that will knock out the local grid. In those areas, buying home generators makes a lot of sense.
Choosing the right generator for your needs, though, can prove trickier. Keep reading for our quick guide to picking generators for houses.
Know Your Needs
With so many options for generators, it helps if you understand your essential electrical needs. That means things like refrigeration, a portable heater, lighting, and maybe your sump pump. You can check the power needs of most of these devices right on their labels.
Once you have all the numbers, add them up. If you aren’t sure about your exact needs, a 7500-watt generator will typically cover the essential electrical demand for a home.
Types of Generator
There are a few main types of generators. The top-of-class generators are standby generators. These typically kick on by themselves when the electricity goes out and can produce up to 20,000-watts.
Next up are your portable generators. These typically max out at 8500-watts.
Then, you have inverter generators, which operate a little differently. They adjust their performance based on your home’s electrical demand. they top out around 6500-watts.
Different generators run on different fuel sources. Smaller generators often run on regular gasoline. That can prove useful during short outages where you can easily access more gasoline.
For larger and standby generators, you usually end up using a fuel source like propane, diesel, or natural gas. If you use propane or natural gas for heating or cooking, you can often hook standby generator up to your propane tank or natural gas hookup.
You should bring in a professional for hooking up your generator to a fuel source, as well as installing the transfer switch at your panel.
You should also rely on professionals for repairing your generator. It’s not something you want to wonder about when you need the generator.
Comparing generator costs is a little deceptive because the different kinds of generators perform differently. As a general rule, standby generators cost the most and may run you around $12,000 for generator and installation. Higher wattage inverter generators cost more than portable generators and top out around $4000.
A good, high-wattage portable generator will typically top out around $2500.
Buying Home Generators
Buying home generators isn’t as straightforward as most homeowners might like. You must balance cost against expected need.
If you experience regular power outages, a standby generator may prove the best — if costliest — solution. For occasional outages, you can likely get by with an inverter generator or a portable generator. For cost savings, a portable generator will typically cost less than an inverter generator for similar wattage.
Looking for more ideas about home upgrades? Check out the posts over in our Home Improvement section.