How do I choose a backup generator?

propane-generatorAs we seem to see more and more often these days (about twice as often as a decade ago, according to statistics), severe weather can cause inconvenient – and sometimes dangerous – power outages. But there is one piece of home comfort equipment that can protect your family and home when the power goes down: a whole house generator.

Often called a standby or backup generator, the unit looks like a covered central air conditioner and connects directly to your home’s HVAC and electrical systems (these are not the portable generators you commonly see on wheels at construction sites; these are much more complex and powerful pieces of equipment).

So how do you choose a backup generator that’s right for your Connecticut home? Here are three key steps you’ll have to take:

  1. Choose a fuel source – Residential standby generators in sizes up to 22kW (more on sizing below) are typically powered by either natural gas or propane (diesel-powered models are available, but cost considerably more).

    Propane generators are slightly less efficient than natural gas generators, but propane burns significantly cleaner than natural gas; this means that a natural gas generator will need more frequent maintenance to provide reliable backup power. You will also need to connect your natural gas generator to a pipeline, which may not be available in your neighborhood.

  2. Assess your power needs – The next step in choosing a backup generator is to determine how much power you’ll actually need during an outage. Backup generators are rated by kilowatt (kW, the equivalent of 1,000 watts), which measures the generator’s electrical power output.

    A good place to start if you are trying to find a generator that will meet your demands is to decide if you want to power your heating and cooling equipment during a blackout, since your air conditioner and furnace or boiler are the most power-hungry appliances in your home. From there, you can make decisions about what else you want to power to set your priorities during an outage.

    A typical checklist of home items to power includes:

    • Essentials: Central / window AC, well pump, electric water heater, gas water heater, gas furnace, refrigerator, freezer, sump pump, home security systems, Computer, Wi-Fi
    • Appliances: Electric oven / stove, gas oven/stove, microwave, dishwasher, garage door, electric dryer
    • Extras: Hot tub, pool heater

    A home generator expert can help you size a generator that meets your needs.

  3. Choose a transfer switch – When power from your utility goes out, the responsibility for generating power for your appliances transfers to your backup generator; this transfer can happen either automatically or manually. An Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS) is needed to turn on your generator the moment a power failure is detected. It is critical that the ATS is matched to the amperage of your home’s breaker panel, so be sure to consult a backup generator installation expert before you make your purchase!

A backup generator is a great investment that can protect your home, family, and property. To get a FREE, no obligation estimates on a whole house generator for your northern Fairfield or northern Westchester County home, contact the pros at Casey Energy, today!