Choosing a Home Standby Generator
Choosing a Home Standby Generator is easier than you think and is a great investment:
Safety – No gasoline cans or extension cords, reducing risk of fire, CO poisoning and electrical shock while facilitating the operation of security systems, air conditioning, refrigeration and powering medical devices.
Convenience – Provide peace of mind, even when you’re away. Power will automatically be restored to critical systems or the entire house. Continue watching the game or working on your PC, like nothing ever happened!
Value – A standby generator is an investment that pays for itself and increases the resale value of your home. It delivers the cleanest power possible for sensitive electronics found in today’s homes.
The 3 Steps for Choosing a Home Standby Generator
- Pick a Fuel Source – Standby generators up to 22kW mostly use natural gas (NG) or liquid propane (LP). If you’re looking for a generator that runs on diesel, you’ll need to upgrade to a liquid-cooled whole-house type that may cost more. Both LP and diesel fuels will require tanks large enough to properly run the generator. NG unites will require the natural gas meter and gas lines be the correct size. Your contractor will verify this with you prior to installation and you can find this information in the installation manual.
- Determine Power Needs – Determine exactly how much power you’ll actually need during an outage and whether or not you want to only back up crucial systems like refrigerators and lighting or the entire house. The best way to determine the power needs of your home is to first decide if you want to power your central air conditioner or HVAC equipment during a blackout since it is the most power-hungry appliances in your home. How can you tell what size you need? Look at your air conditioning unit’s data plate and it will tell you the size in either BTUs or Tons. There are 12,000 BTUs for each ton of capacity and 3.517 Kilowatts of energy. So for example, if you have a 3-ton (36,000BTU) air conditioner, it will require a standby generator that is 11kW or larger just to run the AC unit. (3T x 3.517kw = 10.551 or 11kw)
- Choose a Transfer Switch – An automatic transfer switch (ATS) allows your generator to automatically spring into action the moment a power failure is detected. It does this by continuously sensing utility power. After an outage is detected, it starts the engine and disconnects power coming from the utility line, powering your home through generator power. Getting the right switch is just as crucial as getting the right generator as they work together to restore power. You will need to know the amperage of your electrical service panel. You can check this by locating the main breaker in your electrical panel (usually the big pull-out at the top) or ask your installer to verify this for you. The average sized home usually has a 200-amp main breaker, so the maximum amount of electricity your home can consume is 200 amps. Smaller, older homes may have 100 to 150-amp service. It’s very important to get the amp switch to match your homes service panel.