A Complete Home Generator Guide for Virginia Residents
Power outages had been increasingly frequent and troublesome in recent years. It’s hardly surprising that home generator demand has skyrocketed. Homeowners are starting to invest in the safety and convenience that backup home generators provide in light of the ongoing blackouts, extreme weather, infrastructure challenges, and other issues afflicting the electrical system.
For those unfamiliar with home generators and how they work, selecting the best one might be challenging. Keeping these people in mind, we have created an in-depth generator purchasing guide to help them select the ideal backup power option for their home.
If you want information about buying a home generator, keep reading this comprehensive Virginia Home Generator Guide.
How to Choose the Right Size Generator for Your Home?
Remember that the decision to acquire a home generator is only the beginning of a long process. Zeroing in on the perfect solution for your specific generator requirements may be as challenging. For example, you must first choose the generator model. Crucial things like the fuel type, the size you need, and the amenities you can’t live without should all be considered.
The sort of generator you choose will probably depend on the size of your home and the appliances you need to keep running during a blackout. In an average home, only the most essential appliances like the refrigerator, heating or cooling systems, and ensuring water supply will need between 5,000 and 7,500 watts.
Here are the steps to follow to find the generator size you need for your home:
Step 1: The first thing you should do is make a list of the circuits in your home that are the most crucial. They include refrigerators and freezers, central heating and air conditioning systems, sump pumps, well pumps, and medical gear.
Step 2: Calculate the initial and average wattage for each item on your list. You may use this if you can’t locate these numbers on the appliance’s label.
Please remember that the starting wattage is the electricity needed to start an appliance and running wattage is the electricity an appliance needs to run continually. The starting wattage is often two to three times greater than the running wattage for all appliances.
Step 3: After determining the estimated power needed, choosing the generator size is simple. Choose a generator with 10–20 percent more capacity than your estimated need. This is because if you decide to update your equipment and discover that you need more power, you may already have this additional wattage accommodated in the current generator output. It also helps with “de-rating,” or the generator’s underperformance relative to its manufacturer’s listed capabilities due to extreme operating conditions like high altitudes or low temperatures.
Which Is Better: A Standby Generator or A Portable One?
If you’re looking to buy a generator for your home, the first decision you’ll have to make is between a stationary generator and a portable generator. There are advantages and disadvantages to each option.
For example, portable generators are easier to transport, needs less maintenance, and are less costly. On the other hand, standby generators are ideal for dealing with frequent power outages since they are easier to run and provide more power output.
You can determine the best generator type by asking yourself these questions.
- How Will You Utilize It?
A portable generator can be used to power your home in an emergency or you can take it on camping vacations or tailboard parties. This provides it greater freedom than a stationary generator, which is hardwired into your home.
- How Much Power Do You Require?
The output of a portable generator is much lower than that of a stationary generator. A backup generator may produce 5,000 to 20,000 watts of electricity, more than enough to power your home.
In contrast, the standard output of a portable generator is between 3,000 and 8,000 watts. A few lights, refrigerator, a window AC, and a gas boiler fan will all be powered by that. On the other hand, they can’t guarantee that your whole home will continue to function normally.
- How Much Money Do You Have?
A portable generator is the least costly option, as most portable models cost between $400 and $1,000. You may build this kind of generator on your own, or you can hire an electrician for a few hundred dollars to install a transfer switch, which makes it safer and easier to operate. A backup generator cost ranges from $3,000 to $6,000, not including the cost of professional installation. Your overall expenses might be anything from a few thousand to over ten thousand dollars.
- How Much Do You Value Convenience?
There is no need to reconfigure or alter a backup generator. Once connected, it will begin operating when the power goes off. Portable generators take a lot more work. You must buy and conserve gasoline in advance for them and operate them regularly, at least once a month, to ensure optimal operation.
The portable generator must then be brought outdoors, connected, and started manually when there is a blackout. Last but not least, there is a higher risk of fire or toxic gases entering your home if you utilize a portable generator incorrectly.
- Where Will You Keep It?
Choosing a safe and dry place to store a portable generator is essential. It must be stored inside to protect it from theft and damage, but it must also be transportable, so you can take it outdoors when needed. Also, while utilizing it, you need a nice spot to put it up, ideally outdoors on level ground protected from the weather but not too near the home. Wherever it is positioned, a backup generator can keep running all year.
- Is There a Chance You’ll Require Electricity While You’re Gone?
When the power goes out, a backup generator will immediately restore electricity even if you are not at home. If a storm strikes your home while you’re on vacation and the pipes burst or the sump pump breaks, you won’t have to worry about coming home to a flooded basement.
We will discuss generator safety in the following segment of our Virginia Home Generator Guide.
Safety Precautions to Be Taken While Using a Home Generator
There is no need for extra safety precautions when professionals install a backup generator appropriately in your home. However, the three principal safety concerns connected with portable generators are fires, electrical hazards, and carbon monoxide poisoning. To minimize these hazards, always religiously follow the instructions given in the manual. Consider the following basic safety recommendations:
- Always Operate the Generator Outside: To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, always run the generator in a well-ventilated location outside your home. The quantity of carbon monoxide that may accumulate in even a partially enclosed space, such as an open garage door, is lethal.
- Use a Carbon Monoxide Detector: If your generator does not feature an automated carbon monoxide detector, install battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home to further reduce the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. Test the batteries often to guarantee their functionality. When the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, exit the building or go to a nearby open door or window.
- Keep the Generator Dry: If you run a generator in wet conditions, you risk electrocution. So avoid doing that. If you need to use it in the rain, cover it with a tarp erected on poles.
- Use the Correct Power Cords: If you don’t have a transfer switch, ensure your appliances are correctly connected to the generator. Utilize extension cables designed for outdoor usage or plug them straight in. In addition, ensure that the amp or watt rating of the extension lead is at least equivalent to the total wattage of all the appliances you are attaching to it.
- Never Back-Feed: Back-feeding is the dangerous habit of connecting a generator directly to a home’s electrical socket. Since it bypasses the circuit board in your home, you run the danger of harming your electronic equipment or, worse yet, starting an electrical fire.
- Prevent Overloading the Generator: If your generator is connected correctly, overloading it might cause overheating or generator failure. To avoid this problem, keep track of how many gadgets you have running at once, and do not use more power than the generator can provide.
- Let It Cool Off Before Refueling: Never try to refill a running generator. Spilling petrol on a hot engine might cause a fire. Before adding fuel, please turn off the generator and allow it to cool. It decreases the chance of being burned by the hot engine.
- Store Gasoline Safely: Use just the fuel that your generator prescribes. Keep excess fuel in a safe container that has been allowed in a room that is cool and well-ventilated. Do not keep additional fuel in or near fuel-burning equipment. Instead, store it in a secure location.
Let us explore the topic of generator maintenance in the next section of this Virginia home generator guide.
Tips On Generator Maintenance
If you want your generator to be ready during a power outage, you must maintain it correctly. Maintaining your generator should be addressed in detail in the handbook that comes with it. However, there are a few basic measures that everyone should take.
- Have Sufficient Fuel in Stock: 12 to 20 liters of petrol are needed for a generator to run uninterruptedly for a day. However, you probably do not need to use your generator continuously. For example, to keep your freezer and refrigerator operating, it may only need to be activated once every several hours.
- Check the Oil: Before starting your generator, ensure it has adequate oil to prevent any type of damage. If you think the oil is low, add adequate oil but do not let the oil level go beyond the full indicator on the dipstick.
- Replace the Oil: After the initial five hours of operation, please change the oil. Afterward, it should be able to work for around 100 hours without requiring an oil change. Please consult your vehicle’s owner’s handbook to determine what oil to use.
- Examine the Filters: After using the generator, inspect the filters. If the paper filters are visibly filthy, replace them. If case of foam filters, clean them.
- Examine the Spark Plug: Spark plugs for generators usually need to be replaced after a certain number of running hours. You will find this information in the handbook. If your generator does not have an hour meter, you must keep note of how many hours it has run to determine when it should be replaced.
- Drain the Fuel Lines: If you leave your generator idle for at least two weeks, empty the fuel lines before storing it. Please switch off the fuel valve while the engine runs and allow it to drain.
- Operate It Frequently: Even if you do not face any power outages in the current month and your generator is sitting idle where it is kept, ensure to switch it on for at least twenty minutes. In addition to lubricating the engine and recharging the battery, it also eliminates moisture. Also make sure to do test runs of your generator and its accessories every few months to ensure it can power all appliances during a blackout.
After reading this detailed Virginia home generator guide, if you still have doubts regarding a home generator needing clarification, please get in touch with Power & Systems Integration. To contact us, please fill up the contact form on our website so that our professionals can contact you as soon as possible and provide you with the necessary help.