Diesel home power generator for emergency electrical backup

How to Choose the Right Home Power Generator

Choosing the right Northwest Arkansas home power generator can be very confusing There are just too many home power generator nowadays that come in various shapes, sizes, models and prices coming from different manufacturers and retailers. More often than not, instead of going home with a home power generator,, one ends up going home with nothing other than more confusion.

The article below outlines the pros and cons of two types of emergency electrical generators—the portable type and the larger standby type—and tells you how to decide between them.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Plug-in generators

The most basic method of supplying backup power is running a portable generator in your yard, then plugging in extension cords that plug into your appliances. It’s also the least expensive solution since you don’t need to hire an electrician to install a subpanel. The downside is you have to run extension cords everywhere you want power and you’re limited to how many things you can plug in at once (most generators have either two or four outlets). You also have to start and maintain the generator.

When the power goes out, place the generator on a flat surface outside, at least 10 ft. from the house. Don’t set it under awnings, canopies or carports, or inside the house or garage. It’s absolutely critical that you keep the generator away from your house and especially away from doors and windows—your life could depend on it! More people die from carbon monoxide poisoning from the gas engines on generators than from the disasters causing the power outages.

Caution:
Plug in a carbon monoxide detector when using a portable generator. It’ll alert you if generator exhaust reaches a dangerous level inside the house.

Extension cords must be at least 14 gauge to carry adequate power. Follow the cord’s maximum wattage rating (listed on the cord’s label). Start up the generator, then plug in the extension cords (photo above). Be careful not to overload the generator by plugging in high-wattage appliances that you didn’t plan for. It’ll trip the breaker or blow a fuse on the generator, or damage the appliance motors.

Portable generators range in price from $500 for a 3,250-watt unit to $1,500 for a 10,000-watt unit. Options include wheels (get them—generators are very heavy to lift) and electric (key) starts rather than pull-starts. Consider how long the generator can run on a tank of gas. Some run just a few hours, so you’ll have to get up in the middle of the night to add fuel. Others have 16-gallon fuel tanks that can run up to 10 hours.

For help in wiring or installing a home power generator in Northwest Arkansas call (479) 640-7476.

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