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Home Generator 101: Advantages, Cost, and Options

Buying a home generator is a great way to keep your house running even if the power goes out. Whether your neighborhood is affected by a storm, a downed power line, or any other electrical emergency, you can keep important appliances like the refrigerator as well as your household electronics chugging along with the help of a generator.

Buying a home generator is a great way to keep your house running even if the power goes out. Whether your neighborhood is affected by a storm, a downed power line, or any other electrical emergency, you can keep important appliances like the refrigerator as well as your household electronics chugging along with the help of a generator.

Choose a Generator Based on Your Needs

In the event of a power outage, are you going to want to power your entire house, or only single appliances? Further, are you in a scenario where you might like to move your generator around? These are the types of questions that you’ll need to ask yourself before investing in a generator. Categories of generators include:

  • Standby generators. These are the large, fixed generators you see outside of homes. They kick in when the power goes out, and supply electricity to the entire house. Their cost and the amount of power they put out will depend on your needs. These generators can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars or more depending on your needs. The price tag comes with the convenience of automatic power in the event of any outage.
  • Portable generators. These generators can cost only a few hundred dollars, and provide the advantage of portability. They can double as power sources for camping, or can be moved to other homes. However, you will have to choose which appliances to power at any given time, and typically their power output is much lower.
Aside from not providing adequate power, portable generators do have some other serious risks. Many portable generators are gas-powered, meaning there is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC), home generators account for over 80 percent of deaths from engine-driven household tools. Always run a generator outdoors – never inside.

How Much Wattage is Enough?

When you buy your generator, you’re going to need to decide how much power you need. Don’t worry; you won’t have to make this decision alone. Nonetheless, it’s a critical factor in the ultimate performance of your home generator. You and a dealer will calculate the wattage of every appliance you will power with the generator – including “startup” wattages which can be three times as high as its running average. The maximum wattage of the generator has to exceed all of these put together. A portable generator may be able to kick out 20,000 watts, while a standby generator could manage up to 500,000.

Choosing the right type of generator to suit your needs will help your home stay running strong when the power goes out. Whether you simply want to have a home backup system in the event of a power outage, or you want your backup system to double as a generator for outdoor projects and events, you can find the solution that best fits your needs.

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