- Post Updated. Originally published August 30, 2018.
The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season was one for the record books. Hurricanes Maria and Harvey battered the Caribbean and the Texas Gulf coast mercilessly. Harvey inflicted 125 billion dollars in damage in the Houston area while Maria devastated Dominica and Puerto Rico. In 2018 Winter Storm Grayson brought blizzard like conditions to the US Northeast coast dumping seven (7) inches of snow on South Carolina’s coastal areas. Surviving major storms like these, and power outages caused by them, make a really strong case for investing in a backup power system for your home.
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If you live in a region that regularly experiences power outages as a result of severe storms then you should consider a home generator installation. But what type of generator should you buy? There are basically two types of generators to install in your home, portable and standby.
Portable generators are smaller mobile backup power units that are generally more inexpensive and fairly easy to install. You can purchase a portable unit from you major big box stores like Home Depot and Lowes. Prices to buy a portable generator can run anywhere from $500 to $2000 but they wont power your whole house. All you need to install a portable generator is a manual transfer switch and a cable connected to the unit. However, portable generators are more labor intensive. You have to be be at home in order to turn it on. All generators run on an alternate source of fuel. But most portables run on gasoline, making it necessary to store gasoline for refueling. And you will need to refuel the unit periodically as most portables can run for up to 48 hrs. Refueling efforts may include making trips to the gas station in hazardous conditions where they may be shortages in the event of a prolonged power outage. In addition, the unit must be placed in a well ventilated area. The generator should not be placed in your garage because it emits carbon monoxide. Depending on where you live, you may also have to keep an eye on it to deter theft. Portable generators require minimal maintenance but are very noisy.
Standby generators are the more expensive variety of generator power. You usually have to order one from an authorized dealer. Your big box stores may also serve as dealerships for brands such as Generac, Briggs & Stratton, and Kohler. A home standby generator system (permits, gas, electrical) installation could between $5,000 and $20,000 depending on the size of your house and what you want to power up in the event of an outage. Home standby generators are also known as whole home generators because they are able to power your entire home in the event of a power outage. Standby generators are permanently installed and run on either propane or natural gas. Permanent standby units automatically turn on when they sense a drop in power whether you are home or not. Standby generators are more hands off but more expensive and require professional installation. You have to hire an electrician to run the power and install the automatic transfer switch, a plumber to run the gas line from your fuel source (propane, natural gas) to the unit and a fuel supplier. In addition, nost municipalities require building permits to install a standby generator. Frequent maintenance is required for standby units to ensure they are operable in the event of a power outage. However a standby generator is also noisy but it can power your home for days.
So What Type of Generator Should You Buy?
If you are cost conscious and power outages in your area are infrequent but dont usually last more than 24 hours, a portable generator may suit your needs. However if you experience frequent storms and power outages in your area, you have small children, elderly and or vital medical equipment running in your home, a standby generator may be the best option.
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