Having a backup generator can be amazing for homes that have to deal with a lot of weather-related power outages. When you have a backup generator in tow, you’re ready for just about anything. But shopping for a generator isn’t as easy as it might seem. You need to make sure you’re getting the right type of generator for the job, based on need, fuel type, size, and what kind of interlock kits you’ll require. While most homes can get away with a smaller portable model, certain climates that are prone to long-term blackouts might need a more sustainable stationary generator that can keep their home powered up for days and even weeks at a time. It’s all about figuring out what your actual needs are, and how long you can afford to go without certain non-necessities in your home. If you’re ready to buy a backup generator and want to make sure you’re getting the best deal, here are a few things to consider.
Portable or Standby?
Having a backup generator can seem like a huge luxury. However, the important thing to remember about your generator is that it’s not built to power your entire home for weeks. The point of a generator is to keep things going so that you don’t have to live in darkness and forgo showers and running water just to get through a storm. You might imagine that you need a ton of power to keep the lights on, but in reality, the appliances that use up the most power in your home tend to be less necessary. For instance, washer and dryer units use a ton of power, as do televisions, refrigerators, and even toaster ovens. Be honest with yourself about what kind of power supply you need in an emergency, especially in a situation where you truly don’t know when (or if) the power is going to go back on any time soon. If you feel like you can get by on very little, you should consider getting a portable machine. While this type of generator might not be able to power much more than the bare necessities, you’ll be able to save money on it and take it with you if you happen to move houses. A standby machine, on the other hand, will be able to keep the lights on as well as the security system and a number of energy-eating appliances. Because of this, you’ll have to spend a bit more money on it. Where a portable machine starts at around $2,500, a standby model probably can’t be had for less than $5,000.
Indoor or Outdoor?
Another important consideration involves that actual placement of your machine. If you don’t want your machine to live in your home, using a portable model might be best, especially if you’re not keen on spending a ton of money. However, consider the placement of your portable machine during a storm. Since portable models often run on gas, you can’t leave it in a small, confined environment. If you place your portable generator in a confined space like the garage, you could create a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. However, leaving it out and exposed might not be the best option, either. You’ll need to keep your machine plugged into your power supply by way of an interlock kit. You’ll also need to manually refill the fuel supply every so often and keep up with maintenance. If this seems too risky or simply like too much work, you should think about spending the extra cash on a standby model.
How Much Power Do You Need?
Again, before you invest in a generator, you need to be both realistic and sensible about your actual needs. If you’re someone who works from home, for instance, you’re going to consider different things as necessities than someone who can afford to go without internet or computer access. If you need to be plugged into your phone at all times, a portable generator might not be your best bet. If you want to have all the comforts of home available to you during an outage, including a washer-dryer unit and a full working kitchen, a portable model won’t have the kind of power supply you need. However, if you just want to wait out the storm in relative comfort, you can get away with spending less and keeping a portable model in case of emergencies.
What are Your Home Priorities?
You don’t just have to think about comfort during a big storm or longer power outage. You also have to think about your basic safety and security. During storms and outages, homes and entire neighborhoods become vulnerable to looters, thieves, and even intrusive elements like wildlife, flooding, and excessive water damage. Thinking about your generator in terms of protection will help you make a better choice when it comes to your actual needs. If you have a home security system that you can’t afford to live without, getting a standby generator could help drastically increase your personal safety.