HomeownerEducational: A-M



Benefits of Generators

Power outages are a major headache, causing food to spoil and electronics to break. If a power outage lasts for too long, the home can get uncomfortably hot or cold. A standby generator can put you and your family at ease. To prevent the inconveniences of a power outage and to ensure a steady stream of electricity, many people install backup generators that run on natural gas or propane. Battery-powered generators are a good option if you don’t have a safe, ventilated outdoor space for a gas-powered unit.

Standby Generators

Standby generators operate whether you are home or away. When the generator senses the loss of power from the public utility, it automatically starts up and switches over the home’s electrical load. When utility power returns, the generator automatically shuts off.

Transfer Switches

Standby generators supply electricity through the home’s wires and thus require the installation of a transfer switch. The transfer switch transfers the home’s load from the public utility to the generator and back to the utility again. An improperly installed transfer switch could allow electricity to backfeed into the utility lines, which could electrocute a utility worker. Only licensed electricians should install transfer switches.

Safety Considerations

Storms and other causes of unexpected power loss can leave you stranded without electricity for hours or even days.

However, before you purchase a generator, it is important, for safety reasons, to consider where on your property you will install it. Enclosed spaces allow carbon monoxide to build up while the generator is in use, and it can remain for hours after the machine is shut off. Because of the chance of carbon monoxide poisoning, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends that generators be placed well outside of the home or garage.

Regular Maintenance

Generators require regular maintenance to ensure that they’ll work when you need them.

Routine safety checks on generators that run on natural gas are especially important; each year many people in the U.S. die from carbon monoxide poisoning. Check battery-powered generators on a regular basis, too. If you plan to rely solely on a battery-powered generator during a power outage, having a solar panel and battery bank system for recharging is a good idea. Regular service can also eliminate the need for a contractor during peak seasons when contractors are in high demand.

Because gas-powered generators must be placed outside, leaves and other debris can sometimes interfere with their performance. Keep clutter and debris clear of the generator unit. You never know when a power outage will occur, but with regular upkeep, a standby generator can help you weather the storm.