When a home loses power, refrigerators, heating and cooling systems and even medical devices stop working. If a power outage occurs over a long period of time, a home may become uncomfortable or even uninhabitable due to temperature conditions. A home without electricity in the dead of winter is subject to pipe bursting, while extremely hot homes can create unsafe living conditions.
One way to protect your home and family from an extended power outage is to purchase a home generator , which can provide power to the home when the electricity shuts off.
“Generators can be a great safety measure in case of a power outage. It can prevent food from spoiling in your home, it can help you do your everyday things, keep pipes from freezing, and if you have any medical equipment that runs off electricity it can be a lifesaving tool as well,” advises Angie Hicks.
When deciding what type of generator you might want to have its dependent on your potential usage. If you are living in the city and you may just need it for a few hours a portable generator can be a great option, they cost about $1,000. But if you live in a rural area where you may be without electricity for a longer period of time or if you have medical issues that require equipment to be plugged in you are probably going to go with a whole house generator.
Homeowner Edward Cochran says, “I’m very glad that we have a generator. You don’t need it very often but when you do it’s really nice to have it. And it doesn’t have to be a big investment. You can get by for several hours on less than $1,000.”
Edward recalls, “We lost power a few years ago in April we had an ice storm and we were without power for like five days. We had a 2,400 watt generator which was enough power to run several lights, we could run the furnace, we could keep the refrigerator cold and we could cook in the microwave. We had a TV, coffee pot, basically we were pretty functional other than having to keep gasoline in the generator.”
“My wife and I both have sleep apnea and we use a CPAP machine through the night and the generator makes that possible," Edwards adds.
When it comes to generators, homeowners have a couple of options.
Portable generators are cheaper than permanent units, but are designed to run for shorter time periods and are powered by gasoline, so they’ll need frequent refueling.
Permanent units can start automatically or with the flip of a switch – and can power everything in your house.
Angie’s List, the nation’s leading provider of consumer reviews , asked highly rated electricians about generators.
Generators convert gasoline, natural gas, or diesel fuel into electricity. Some are portable while others are stationary. Both can have manual or automatic transfer switches.
· Portable generators: Designed to run for shorter time periods and are powered by gasoline so they’ll need frequent refueling. You can run only certain items with a portable generator. You also have to run extension cords into the appliances you want to run, or you can have an electrician install a manual transfer switch to your main circuit panel. You can purchase many reliable portable generators for under $1,000 – prices will vary depending on the wattage you choose. If you move, you can easily take the generator with you.
· Permanent/stationary/standby generators: Can start automatically or with the flip of a switch when the power goes out. These units appeal primarily to homeowners who either don’t want to risk power interruptions or can’t because they rely on medical equipment like a home dialysis machine – they can power everything in your house. These units resemble a small air conditioning unit. Providers can install the unit outside the home, where it will be permanently mounted. They can cost about $7,500 to $9,000.
A licensed electrician is the type of contractor you will want to hire to install a whole house generator.
Electrician/Contractor Chris Hinesley explains, “Portable is more common than permanent and there is a few reasons. I think that the ease of use is one. Probably the biggest one is its cost-effective. We can install your transfer switch, emergency panel, for around $500-$600, and then there would be the cost of the generator, whatever generator you would pick. That’s pretty cost-effect for a homeowner on a house around 1,500 to 2,000 square feet to have emergency power so that they would be comfortable in a power outage.”
Chris says, “Permanent/automatic transfer switch systems are chosen by people who really don’t want to worry about what breaker or what switch to turn on and when. The unit that you install figures that out for you and it provides you with emergency power when your power goes out and you don’t have to do a thing.”
Angie’s List Tips: Home generators
· Plan ahead: If you’re considering running your house on a generator, take the time to do your homework on generators before buying and installing one. You don’t want to find yourself scrambling in the event