Choosing a generator
Home generators can be either portable or stationary. They run on a variety of fuels including, gasoline, diesel, natural gas, propane and oil. Generally, gasoline portable models are less expensive to purchase. However, they typically have shorter run times because of the need to refill the tank, if used constantly. And if the outage is due to wide spread outages or severe weather conditions, gas pumps may not be operational. Natural gas with its constantly available supply, tend to be the more reliable for stationary models.
The main differences between stationary and portable models are in their connection and activation. A portable unit has to be moved to your location, filled with fuel and then connected to fuel line, manually started then connected to your load requirement. Portable units allow for easy storage when needed. A stationary unit can start immediately and is usually already wired to the home and the fuel source. A determining factor as to which works best involves how much space you have for the unit, since a stationary unit may require a concrete pad.
Generators usually come in sizes that range from an output of 1 kilowatt (kw) to over 100 kw.
Choosing a fuel type
Your choice of fuel should be determined by the fuels available in your area. The more remote your location is, the bigger the concern for having available fuel will be. As mentioned earlier, gasoline, diesel, fuel oil and to an extent propane, have limited availability and delivery in extreme circumstances. Natural gas can also be limiting if you are not connected to their distribution system.
A standby power backup device connects to the house wiring through a transfer switch. The transfer switch prevents ‘backfeeding’ into utility lines, which is dangerous and illegal. It also protects the device from damage caused by the utility company applying voltage to your house wiring while it is operating. These switches can either be automatic or manual and should be rated to carry the larger of the maximum load of the residence or the full output of the generator.
If your generator is intended to supply only a portion of your home’s electrical load, a list should be made of the electrical equipment to be powered during an outage, for example; appliances, lamps, furnace blower motor and the like. Compare the total wattage of the equipment to the total wattage output rating of the generator and do not exceed it.
In any case of installing stationary generators, or performing electric generator service, a licensed Mister Sparky® electrician should perform all the electrical connections to avoid any problems. Additionally, all wiring and equipment must comply with local, state and federal laws or codes, inspected and adhere to the rules and regulations of your local utility.