You have likely experienced the loss of electricity in your house at some point. Usually, these outages do not last very long, and you are resetting your clocks within a few minutes to a couple of hours. But, what would it be like to go without power for days or even weeks? It may be unthinkable, but it does happen, and it can be frustrating or even outright dangerous.
If you rely on electricity to power home medical equipment or you work mostly from home, the loss of electricity could have a significant and detrimental impact on your life. Without the benefits of lighting, heating or cooling, appliances, and electronics, your general sense of security could be diminished or eliminated. Your refrigerated food would soon spoil, and any children or elderly family members would be subjected to extremes in temperatures.
A backup generator can provide peace of mind
If you live in an area that has more power outages than usual, such as a hurricane-prone region, buying a backup generator can power air conditioners, sump pumps, refrigerators, heaters, washers/dryers, and lights for days.
Here are some of the benefits a backup generator can provide:
- Quick and efficient distribution of power
- The peace of mind that comes from knowing your family is safe during an emergency
- Continued use of heating and cooling systems, electronics, and appliances
- Comfort and safety during severe storms resulting in loss of power
- Protection from voltage surges when power returns
- Significant value added to the home
- A deterrent for burglars
- Reduced home insurance rates
Generators can be complicated machines and, depending on the type you choose, can be a substantial investment. There are two basic types of backup generators—portable and whole-house—each with its pros and cons. Deciding which of them is right for your needs and budget is the first step in the process to protect your home in the event of extended loss of power.
Portable generators are the less expensive option
Portable generators are precisely what their name suggests: they can be wheeled out of their storage space when the power goes out and wheeled back in when it returns. These generators cost quite a bit less than the whole-house kind—between $400 and $1,000—and they provide from 3,000 to 8,500 watts of power. You can use them on or off your property—think about tailgating or using hand tools for DIY projects away from the house or garage–but they may never be run in an enclosed area.
Portable generators are easy to use: add fuel (usually gasoline), start the engine, and run extension cords to your most essential appliances. You can also use a manual transfer switch and send the generator’s power directly to your home’s electrical panel, enabling you to power the hard-wired appliances like your furnace or well pump.
On the downside, these generators do not start automatically when the power goes off, nor can they replace all the electrical needs of the average-sized house.
Whole-house generators are quiet and efficient
Units that are sized to power an entire house for days or weeks during a blackout are called standby generators. Their power output ranges from 8,000 to 20,000 watts, and while the equipment costs from $2,000 to $5,000, installation can run the total bill to $10,000 or more.
These generators are permanent and stationary. They are larger and, as mentioned, more expensive than portable models. Instead of using gasoline for fuel, the standby generators typically are connected to propane or natural gas lines.
Standby generators provide fast and automatic emergency power immediately after a power failure, ensuring that you will have food and water during extended power outages. Since they have a continuous supply of fuel, they can operate for days or weeks without having to be refilled.
These whole-house units automatically disconnect your house from the utility lines when power fails, protecting your electronic devices from power surges, spikes, and brownouts. When the power returns, the generator will not transfer to the utility until the voltage has stabilized, which protects from potentially dangerous surges and voltage fluctuations when power is first turned on again.
Some of the disadvantages of standby units include their initial costs and an annual maintenance requirement that adds to the budget. Also, because they are permanently installed, it will be difficult or impossible to take them with you if you move.
A residential backup generator could reduce homeowners insurance premiums.
Ask one of the experts at NSI Insurance Group if a backup generator might reduce your homeowners insurance rate. Having a powered home during outages can reduce the risk of theft. Even if no one is home when the power goes out, your backup generator will automatically start up, leaving would-be burglars with the impression that the house is inhabited.