Do I Need a Standby Generator? Things to Consider

Here in New England, we’re no strangers to power outages. From heavy snow and damaging ice storms in the winter (and fall… and spring!) to summer thunderstorms accompanied by lightning and torrential rain, we’ve seen it all. And for some homeowners, this is worrying! Maybe you did okay during the last power outage, but do you really want to go through that again? You may find yourself wondering whether a generator is the right option.

Do You Need a Generator?

It may seem unnecessary, but your first step should be to assess whether you really need a generator to begin with.

Some New Englanders pride themselves on surviving power outages. The stories of long outages begin to sound like fisherman’s tales: “I went without power for two weeks back in ‘08!”

But others aren’t so keen on the idea of being left in the dark. This may include elderly homeowners or those with special needs who really can’t afford to be without power, but it also includes those homeowners who just enjoy the comforts of a home with electricity!

Consider your personal needs when deciding whether or not you need a generator. If you don’t mind extended outages from time to time, a generator may not be in your best interest, but if the idea of another outage is less than exciting for you, it’s time to think about purchasing one.

What Type of Generator is Right for You?

Despite the frequency of hard-hitting storms in the area, it seems that right before each new storm hits, New Englanders make their way to their local hardware stores en masse, snatching every last generator off the shelves in frenzied last-minute preparation.

Think about this; if you grab the last generator left in the store, what are the chances it’s going to meet all of your requirements? Will it be the right voltage to power everything you need to run during an outage? Will it be the right brand? The right price? Probably not!

This is why it’s important to do some thinking in advance. What type of generator is really right for you? There are two main types of generator: standby and portable. Each type has its own advantages, and the type you choose will depend on your unique needs. However, we recommend standby generators over portable ones because of a few key advantages.

Do I Need a Standby Generator?

As you decide whether or not a standby generator is the right choice for your home, consider these points.

What Do You Need to Power?

Generators come in many different sizes, and the size you’ll need will depend on what devices you plan to keep running during an outage. If you only want to run a few appliances, such as your refrigerator, you may not need a standby generator. But if you want to run multiple appliances, keep the lights on, run your air conditioner, and watch television, a standby generator will be your best option. They are much more powerful and can handle power more devices – making your home more comfortable during extended outages.

The Power of Convenience and Reliability

Picture this: the next time there’s a big storm, your electricity goes out. What do you do?

If you have a portable generator, you’ll go to your garage or shed and drag your generator out of storage. You’ll trudge through rain or snow until you find the ideal place to put your generator, and then you’ll get it running. Did you remember to buy fuel for it? When was the last time it was run?

If you have a standby generator, your power goes out. Your generator – constantly monitoring your electricity – turns on, and you have backup power.

Which one sounds easier? Standby generators come with peace of mind you can’t get from a portable generator. You don’t have to do anything to get it running – and it will turn on even if you’re not home! You’ll never have to worry about coming home from vacation to burst pipes and a fridge full of spoiled food.

Cost

For many homeowners, the cost of a standby generator is the one thing standing in the way of purchasing one. While it is true that standby generators come at a higher cost than portable ones, the convenience and ability to power more appliances throughout the home is well worth the higher price tag.

Take the Next Step

Is a standby generator the right solution for your home? If you’re interested in installing a home generator, contact us today. One of our qualified technicians would be happy to help you select the generator that’s right for your home.

Can A Home Generator Run an Air Conditioner?

A standby home generator is a good option for powering your air conditioner, but be sure to do your research first. There are a lot of different types of generators, and you shouldn’t try to power your AC if your generator isn’t powerful enough to handle the load.

Can A Home Generator Run an Air Conditioner?

Summer in New England can often mean big storms, and with storms come power outages. While it may be a relief to know that your pipes aren’t going to freeze during one of these summer outages, you may find yourself uncomfortable without your air conditioner. So should you take the chance and run it off of your generator? Keep in mind that there are a few factors that will influence whether or not it will work.

The Wattage of Your Generator

The first thing that you should note is the size of your generator – that is, how much it is capable of powering at one time. Electric power is measured in watts, and standby generators are rated in kilowatts (kW). While a small generator may support about 3,000-4,000 watts at a time, a large standby generator can support 10kW to 15kW! This is a big range, so if you don’t know what size generator you have, find that out before you do anything.

The Needs of Your Air Conditioner

Just as there’s no one size fits all generator, there’s a lot of variation in the sizing and wattage of different air conditioning units. Are you looking to power one or two window units or a 3-ton central air system? There is a big difference in the power required to run these different ACs.

It’s also important to know that your air conditioner doesn’t use the same amount of power all the time – it takes much more energy to start your AC than it does to keep it running. Your generator must be powerful enough to meet these startup demands, or you won’t be able to use your AC.

Every air conditioner is different, but Kohler estimates that a typical window unit will take about 5100 watts to start and will run at around 1700 watts. Meanwhile, central air conditioners tend to run at about 3500 watts – and their startup wattage can often be thousands of watts higher than that! You can buy a hard start kit to reduce the impact of startup, but it’s always best to consult a professional.

The best way to know your power needs is to check for yourself. Take a look at your air conditioning unit – it should list the startup and running wattage on it. This is the only way to know for sure what your unique AC’s power needs are.

Don’t Forget the Rest

One last thing before you turn on your AC! Your generator may be strong enough to power your air conditioner, but is your AC the only thing plugged in? If you’re powering other appliances, your lights, or your TV, you don’t want the cumulative power needs to exceed what your generator can provide.

If you haven’t already, check the wattage of everything you want to power at once and add it up. Don’t forget to factor in those high startup wattages! Now does your generator still meet your power needs? Go ahead and enjoy that AC! But if it doesn’t, you’re going to have to decide what’s most important. Can you leave the TV off for a while to run the AC?

The Right Generator

Every home has unique power needs. Are you looking for a generator powerful enough to keep you comfortable during outages all year long? Contact Standby Generators today – one of our experienced generator technicians will be happy to help you find the right generator for your needs.

How Much Does a Whole Home Generator Cost?

If you’ve been considering getting a generator for your home, you know there’s a wide range of options out there. From portable generators to large whole house generators, there is a generator out there to fit every home’s unique needs. If you’ve spent some time weighing your options and decided that a standby generator is the way to go, you may be wondering about the cost of a whole home generator. PowerProducts specializes in Kohler brand generators, so we will talk specifically about Kohler, but these same considerations apply to all brands of generators.

Benefits of a Standby Generator

Standby generators are permanently installed outside your home and connected to your home’s energy source. Because they are constantly monitoring your power, they are able to quickly and automatically switch on when there is a problem. A whole house generator is powerful enough to keep your lights on and appliances running throughout your home. You’ll never have to worry about going days or weeks without power due to a severe storm, and because they’re automatic you don’t even have to be home to ensure your generator switches on. Having a standby generator ensures ease of mind, but that convenience often comes with a high price tag. Keep in mind that the confidence that comes with a reliable generator is worth the cost.

Cost of a Whole Home Generator

Because there is such a wide variety of generators, there are a lot of factors that will determine how much your ideal generator will cost. Your generator needs will not be the same as your neighbors’, so the cost of a generator will vary. These are some of the most important factors to consider.

  • Size of house. A large house with lots of rooms and appliances to power is going to need a bigger generator than a small home. When shopping for a generator, it’s very helpful to know your home’s square footage – it will help you to better gage your energy needs.
  • Power needs. Are you looking for a generator that will power your lights and refrigerator for a few hours, or one that can power your whole home, including all of your appliances? The more power you’ll need, the bigger your generator will have to be, and that will have an effect on the cost. For an idea of what size generator you’ll need, try out Kohler’s Generator Selector.
  • Installation. Once you’ve selected and purchased your unit, you’ll still need to get it installed. If you go through a certified Kohler dealer, they will install the generator, including hooking it up to your gas and electricity. Otherwise, you will have to hire a licensed electrician and gas piper. This is not a do-it-yourself project, so there will be costs associated with installation.

So, how much does a whole home generator cost? While it’s impossible to know for sure without discussing your power needs with a trusted dealer, doing your research ahead of time will help you to determine the range that you can expect. The Kohler Generators product page will show that a small 8 kilowatt generator has a starting price around $2,500, but a much larger 38 kilowatt generator starts at just over $14,000. The best way to know for sure how much a whole home generator will cost you is to reach out to a trusted generator dealer. Contact one of our certified technicians today to get your free quote and be prepared for the next power outage.

How to Choose the Right Generator Size

The cold weather is here, and with it you can expect snow, ice, and the occasional power outage. Are you prepared for the lights to go out? If it’s time to consider purchasing a generator, it’s important to select the right type and size for your home. But with so many generators out there, how do you go about choosing a generator size?

Assess Watt You Need

It all depends on what you need the generator for. If you just need the essentials, like keeping your refrigerator and lights on, you will not need a generator built to run air conditioners and appliances for several days straight.

When considering your generator needs, start by making a list of everything you will want to power during an outage and its wattage. Examples include a refrigerator (about 600 watts), computer (250 watts), television (200 watts), or washer (350-500 watts) and dryer (1800-5000 watts). Remember that some appliances, such as your refrigerator, require more wattage during certain times in their cycles. You should also take your heating system into account. Gas and electric systems will use different wattages, so take the time to consider your unique needs. If you’re having trouble assessing your energy needs, consult an electrician.

Choosing a Generator Size

Once you know what you’ll need to power, you’ll have a better idea of how much energy your generator will need to provide. Different sized generators offer different wattages, and standby generators can power more than portable generators, so be sure to select a generator that is capable of handling your power needs. A small portable generator can support 3,000 to 4,000 watts, while a large standby generator can support 10,000 to 15,000 watts. Carefully consider whether you may need the generator to power more in the future. You may feel that a small generator can power everything you need now, but somewhere down the line you may need more power (and a new generator).

Be Prepared

The most important thing when thinking about buying a generator? Don’t wait until you need one. When the power goes out, you want to stay in your home and enjoy your generator, not run to the store to purchase one. In an emergency situation, options will be extremely limited, and you will not have the luxury of selecting the right generator for your home. Prepare now: assess your energy needs, select a generator, and have it installed before there is a problem.

Choosing Between Standby and Portable Generators

As winter storms fast approach, do you have a plan for when your home loses power? As most New England homeowners know, a storm can strike at any time and loss of power can affect your home for days or even weeks. A generator is the best way to protect your home during these winter months. There are two kinds of generators: portable and standby. What is the difference, and which type is better for your home?

What’s the difference?

Portable generators are designed to be set up and used when the need arises. Because they are not permanently installed, they can be stored in a garage or basement until they are needed. When the power goes out, they need to be taken out of storage, set up, and fueled. They are powered by a fuel such as propane, which must be stored separately from the generator and added only when it is ready to be used. They can typically be used to power the basics, such as your lights, refrigerator, and heating system, and they require very little maintenance. However, they also give off high levels of carbon monoxide when in use, which means that safety precautions must be taken to ensure the gas is not inhaled.

Standby generators are professionally installed as permanent fixtures outside of the home. They are connected to your home’s energy source and constantly monitor your power. When a problem is detected, standby generators automatically switch on, so you’ll only be left without power for a few seconds. They can be used to power the basics, as well as your water tank, furnace, and other appliances, though depending on their size you may need to turn some appliances off in order to use others. Standby generators must be run for about 15 minutes every week to determine whether or not additional maintenance is needed, so it is often beneficial to work with a generator company to perform services as needed.

Advantages of Standby Generators

Though portable generators cost less and require less maintenance, standby generators are the best option for powering your home. Because they are always monitoring your power, you don’t have to worry about switching them on when there is a problem. Conversely, if you are not home to turn on a portable generator when the power goes out, you run the risk of your pipes bursting or food spoiling while you’re gone. Even if you are home when a problem comes up, you will have to go through the effort of setting a portable generator up outside and turning it on, which may be easier said than done during a big storm. Standby generators are typically more powerful than portable generators; while you may not be able to power everything in your home at once, you will have more flexibility to use the appliances you need.

If you want a worry-free way to ensure your lights stay on this winter, a standby generator is your best option. Don’t get left in the cold during harsh storms. Make sure your home is prepared by installing a generator before you’re left without power.