With the advent of winter around the corner, ice storms and power outages might cause your electricity to temporarily fail. Your Carrollton electric company, Pronto Power, wants you to stay safe this winter by offering tips on shopping for the best generator to suit your needs.
According to the United States Energy Administration, every home loses power an average of 8 hours a year. This may not seem like much, but that average could mean you have very few outages several years running, then a week without power one year. Considering that average is double what it was in 2013, the number of hours without power seems to be on the increase. A generator is an inexpensive stopgap for those times you desperately need power.
From small, portable units to whole-house generators, you need to determine exactly what you want to power before you purchase a generator. If you are concerned about charging your phone and saving the ice cream in the freezer, you may only need a small generator. On the other hand, if a family member needs constant electrical power for medical equipment or your infant needs the heater on since it is not able to maintain a steady body temperature yet, a larger generator may be in order.
Keep in mind that most generators are noisy and consume a lot of fuel. Large generators can burn through 20 gallons of gas a day. Unless you have the capacity to store a huge amount of fuel, it may not be feasible to purchase a large generator.
What about watts?
How do you determine how much wattage you will need since generator production is based on wattage? Find out approximately how much usage the most vital electrical appliances you use require. Add those together and compare to the output on the generators.
Be aware that large appliances – air conditioners and heaters, for instance – drain a huge amount of power upon starting, then level off.
How often will you use your generator?
This may be difficult to predict, so go back to how often you have needed a generator in the past 5 years or so because of power outages, then read below.
• Regular power outages: you may opt for a large inverter, a large portable, or a home standby generator. All 3 of these can directly connect to your circuit breaker panel with a transfer switch.
• Occasional power outages: look to a large inverter or large portable generator. These are portable rather than stationery, but cost significantly less. They are still able to connect to the circuit breaker panel via a transfer switch.
• Rare power outages: consider a small, portable generator to plug in your refrigerator and a few other appliances.
Large portable generators produce ample electricity to power a house. They can direct connect to the breaker panel as long as a transfer switch is installed and can produce up to 8500 watts of power. Cost: $950-$2000
These permanent generators are installed next to the house and come to life when power fails. With 20,000 watts of available power, your entire home can run as if the power never went off. Home standby generators are powered by natural gas or propane. After the initial installation, no cables need to be connected or switches flipped or engines fired up. They are automatic and turn off when electricity is restored. Cost: $2000-$6000 not including installation
These generators are more expensive than traditional generators, but they are quieter, more energy efficient, produce fewer emissions, and run longer.
Inverter generators are available in a variety of sizes.
• Large inverter generators weigh in at 250 pounds and can power an entire house with 5000 watts of power at 220 volts. These generators can connect to your electrical panel via a transfer switch. Cost: $1400-$8000
• Mid-sized inverter generators weigh approximately 80 pounds. They produce 2500-5000 watts and allow multiple appliances to be plugged directly into them while burning through about 2 gallons of gas a day. Cost: $800-$2400
• Small (recreational) inverter generators produce up to 2500 watts. These are usually sufficient to store in case of a power outage and can accommodate several appliances, but could probably not properly handle a whole-home air conditioner. Cost: $450-$1600
What is a transfer switch?
A manual transfer switch subpanel gives your generator a dedicated inlet to power circuits in your home rather than individual appliances. In other words, you no longer need extension cords running everywhere, and all outlets and lights connected to the breaker with the transfer switch are live.
Whatever your choice, purchase your generator before the threat of severe weather. For more winter safety tips, call Carrollton electric company Pronto Power today at 844 621-2852. We look forward to helping you.
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