Picture a stormy night, the wind and the rain against one’s windows. Then suddenly, the lights go out and it’s pitch black. With the wind blowing outside, your family gathers together for a candle-lit dinner without power and wonders how long they will have to suffer. What if there were to be a way out such as a retreat that could offer light and warmth amid all the fury of Mother Nature? A whole-home generator that can kick in within minutes of an outage to provide backup power is a great choice for many homeowners who want reliable electricity. To choose the right generator for your home, there are several things you need to consider.

1. Calculate Your Power Requirements

The first step towards choosing a generator is to decide how much power your family needs. The greater your power demand or the number of devices you wish to operate simultaneously will determine the capacity of the generator you need.

To determine your power requirements, make a list of all your home’s appliances and how many watts they require. This information is easily accessible on the product’s label or instruction manual. From this list, you can estimate how much power your generator will have to provide during an outage.

Check the wattage ratings on every appliance. Take the sum of all devices you intend to operate at one time. The total wattage will give you an estimate of the size generator that is needed. When it comes to the selection of a generator, choosing one whose capacity exceeds your estimated wattage requirement by 20% is advised.

At Potts Electric, located in Ellisville, MO, and serving the St. Louis Metro area, we offer various services to help you make the best decision for your needs. We provide new generator installation, maintenance and testing, transfer switch installation, and generator replacement or restoration.

2. Portable Vs. Standby Generators

There are two main types of generators: portable and standby. The portable generators are for short-term power outages while solving long blackouts should be addressed by a standby generator.

Portable and standby generators are largely powered by gasoline, propane, or diesel. Portable generators can be cheaper than standby generators. They can be stored or transported when not needed. Portable generators tend to be noisy and have to be refueled periodically.

Standby generators are installed in your home and hooked up directly to the house’s wiring. They use natural gas or propane as fuel and have relatively long running times. Unlike portable generators, they can supply power to your entire home and start up automatically within seconds of a blackout. They may not be quite as inexpensive, but they are more convenient and safer than portable generators while offering virtually no maintenance.

3. Choosing the Right Fuel Type

Generators can be powered by gas, diesel fuel, propane, or natural gas. Your decision on fuel will depend upon your preferences, budget, and convenience. Here are the pros and cons of each fuel type.

Gasoline Generator

The most widespread of these is the gasoline generator. They are the cheapest, and also the most expensive. Gasoline is relatively stable and easy to store, but can easily go bad after a time. In addition, gasoline generators need regular maintenance. For instance, they need to have their oil changed and spark plugs replaced at regular intervals.

Diesel Generators

Diesel generators are more fuel efficient than gasoline and have a longer life. Diesel fuel has a longer shelf life than gasoline and is more stable. Further, they are more convenient to use than gasoline generators and need little maintenance. However, diesel generators are more costly than gasoline ones and hard to obtain when there’s an emergency.

Propane Generators

Places without natural gas, on the other hand, do well with propane generators. In comparison with gasoline, propane has a longer shelf life and resistance to deterioration. What’s more, propane generators use much less fuel than gasoline. However, propane generators are the most expensive fuel types. Additionally, propane tanks occupy space.

Natural Gas Generators

The most convenient and environmentally friendly fuel is natural gas generators. They are hooked directly into your home’s natural gas lines and require no refilling. Natural gas is both clean and cheap. The natural gas generator is even more dependable and requires the least maintenance. But on the other hand, natural gas generators have high overheads, and can only be installed where there is a source of natural gas.

4. Size Matters

The generator size you need will be determined by how much power you need to run the appliances in your home. For example, you you only want to supply power for a 1400-watt appliance, your generator must be able to supply 1400 watts of power. We recommend that you choose a generator that can handle all your power needs while using no more than 90% of its capacity.

If the generator is oversized or under-sized, you could experience issues. For example, if you use an undersized generator, then it won’t have sufficient power to meet your home’s needs. An oversized generator, on the other hand, can lead to a misuse of resources such as more fuel and require greater maintenance.

5. Noise Level

Besides assessing your power requirements, it’s also important to take into account the generator noise level. Some generators can be quite noisy and become an annoyance to you and your neighbors. That’s why selecting a generator with an operable decibel (noise) level is extremely important.

Fortunately, many generators incorporate low-noise technology. Choosing the right generator with a little thought and professional guidance, you can choose one that will suit all your needs including keeping down the noise level.

6. Budget

When choosing a generator, you’ll need to consider your budget. The fuel type and generator size will determine how much it will cost. Besides the initial expense, there are also maintenance and operating costs of a generator. Some fuel types, such as gasoline, must be regularly maintained and this consequently increases the operational cost. A natural gas generator may be more expensive to install upfront but has a lower operating price than other fuel types.

7. Safety Features

Another consideration in selecting a generator is safety. Choosing one with safety features helps to avoid accidents and protect your family. Some safety functions it should have are automatic shutoffs, ground fault circuit interrupters, and protection against overload.

When it comes to electricity installation, maintenance, or any other type of electrical service you can rest easy knowing that all will be done properly when you schedule an appointment with our professionals. Our experienced technicians at Potts Electric are dedicated to providing top-notch services for residential and commercial clients in Ellisville, MO, and the greater St. Louis Metro area. We offer new generator installation, testing and maintenance programs, transfer switch installation services, and upgrades for increased power needs for HVAC systems. Contact us today and see how we can help you.

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