It is important to choose the correct size of generator to meet your needs. You want to choose the smallest size generator that will meet your specific needs. One way to figure this out is to add up the wattage of everything you would want to keep powered by the generator during an outage. Some appliances such as refrigerators, HVAC systems and sump pumps will draw a surge of power upon start up and this needs to be considered as well. You can choose a generator sized to run everything in your house as normal or only certain critical items. A portable 2,000-Watt generator would power a few essential items but if you want all of your appliances and lights, you will want to look to something larger.
Portable generators can be bought for under $500 up to about $4,000. Portable generators will need to be manually placed, turned on and kept fueled with gasoline by the user. A transfer switch is recommended to provide power to the home itself, and these can cost from a few hundred to several thousand to be installed by a licensed electrician. Permanently installed home generator systems are significantly more. The equipment alone ranges from about $2,000 to $15,000 and the installation is quite a bit additional requiring both plumbing and electrical services as well as permits. For a fully automatic standby generator installed, permitted and ready to go, you can expect the total to range from $10,000 to over $20,000 depending on the specific requirements of your area and the generator you choose.
It really depends on your needs and budget. If you only need occasional backup power for a few critical items, then a portable generator will suffice. If you want to have a generator automatically turn on any time the power goes out, then an automatic standby generator is the solution for you.
Permits are not required for portable generators but are required for permanently installed standby generators.
Yes, automatic standby generators are powered by natural gas or liquid propane. APortable generators are powered by gasoline.
NO. You can plug items into your generator but in order to feed power to anything hard wired you your house, you will need a transfer switch.
Standby generators require gas plumbing, electrical plumbing and permits. They are not recommended for installation by homeowners.
NO. NEVER, this is extremely dangerous. Generators must be operated outdoors where there is plenty of airflow and ventilation.
If you need to power appliances or lights that do not plug into the wall then a manual or automatic transfer switch is required to shift the power from your panel to the generator. A manual transfer switch will allow you to transfer one or more circuits to be powered by the generator and disconnected from the utility power. It must be switched manually. An automatic transfer switch will route the power from your electrical panel to the generator as soon as an outage is detected.
Yes. Basic maintenance is required for automatic backup generators. All generators should be cleaned and checked for leaks annually. The oil should be changed every 50-60 hours of use. A maintenance contract is highly recommended for automatic backup generators.
Portable generators typically last 2,000 -3,000 hours of use. Typically standby generators have a lifespan of 20-40 years depending on how well they are maintained and how frequently they are used.
If you cannot install an automatic standby generator due to permitting or location restrictions, there are other options to keep you critical items running. You can use a portable generator or battery backup system.