Residential Standby Generators

In: Home & Family

26 Aug 2013

An early, fall storm swept through the area some years ago dumping massive amounts of heavy snow which completely paralyzed the entire region. Trees still had their leaves which captured even more of the wet snow. Branches were quickly overburdened and snapped like twigs under the tremendous weight taking out power lines, roofs, cars and anything else underneath them.

By evening, power was out in the neighborhood and most surrounding areas. As the winter blast subsided, a strange, eerie darkness descended upon the storm ravaged area. Candles and flashlights cast fleeting shadows in homes up and down the icy street.

The only sound that could be heard was the occasional roar of a generator engine. One of those generators belonged to us. We rode out the storm in the safety and comfort of our own home with little inconvenience thanks to a 10kW Generac Guardian natural gas generator wired directly into the electrical system of the house. Our lights, furnace, refrigerator/freezer, sump pump, computer, television etc. were all operational due to the emergency, standby power.

Utility crews worked around the clock to repair the vast number of downed power lines, but some homes went without power for over a week. Rotten food and flooded basements became a hallmark of the area. Some people were actually forced to flee their homes and stay in hotels or move in with relatives.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates that there will be a 7% annual increase in utility outages over the coming years with costs reaching $1.5 billion per year. Emergency backup power can not only bring peace of mind, it can also save time and money.

Standby power works on a pretty basic principle. Backup generators are hard-wired directly into a house’s electrical system. (Portable generators are generally mounted on wheels and moved to where they’re needed.) When electricity from the utility grid is lost, the generator becomes active and supplies power to the home.

A home, standby generator is essentially an internal combustion engine which runs on either natural gas or propane. This engine powers a generator which produces electricity. The backup system comprises a generator and a transfer switch which is hard-wired directly into the residential electrical system. (Portable generators are rarely hard-wired directly into a home’s electrical system. They’re often mounted on wheels and easy to move around.) The standby generator is located outside the home usually near the utility power lines. The transfer switch is placed near or integrated with the main circuit panel inside the home.

The backup system constantly monitors utility power. If there is any loss or interruption of this service, the transfer switch disconnects the home electrical system from the utility grid and transfers it to the standby generator. The generator then starts up and supplies power to a set of dedicated home circuits. When utility power returns, the transfer switch reconnects utility power to the home and the generator shuts down returning to a quiescent standby mode.

When deciding whether to install a standby home generator, it’s crucial to estimate your potential energy needs. How many appliances do you want to be able to operate during an outage? Be sure to have enough power to run essential items such as furnaces and sump pumps. Most appliances have their wattage ratings listed on them, so it’s a simple matter of adding up all the devices that you would like to operate off of generator power and then match it to the appropriate size generator.

Authorized Generac dealers have trained technicians who can assist you in finding the right generator to fulfill your standby power needs.

Learn more about home, backup generators by visiting Generac Generator.

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