HomeownerEducational: A-M



Benefits of Generators

Power outages can be a major headache for homeowners, causing food to spoil and electronics to break. If a power outage lasts for too long, the home can become an uncomfortable place to stay. Installing a standby generator can put you and your family at ease. To prevent the many inconveniences of a power outage and to ensure a steady stream of electricity, many homeowners choose to install backup generators that run on natural gas or propane.

Standby Generators

Standby generators operate whether you are home or away. The generator senses the loss of power from the public utility, automatically starts the generator, and automatically switches the home’s electrical load to the generator. When utility power returns, the generator automatically shuts off and waits for the next power outage.

Transfer Switches

Standby generators supply electricity through the home’s wires and thus require the installation of a transfer switch. As the name suggests, the transfer switch transfers the home’s load from the public utility to the generator and back to the utility again. Because an improperly installed transfer switch could allow electricity to backfeed into the utility lines and potentially electrocute a utility worker, only licensed electricians should install transfer switches.

Safety Considerations

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

However, before making the decision to 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 function at their highest potential. Without regular maintenance, units may need to be replaced much earlier than normal.

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. Regular service can also eliminate the need for a contractor during peak seasons, such as the first cold spell of the winter, when good contractors are in high demand.

Because 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.