Both portable generators and standby generators can be used to power a house but it is not as simple as popping down to the store and picking up a generator. Not if you want to power a whole house. Still, there are necessary elements if you want to power the whole home besides the generator itself.
As mentioned there are two types of generator, portable and standby. Portable generators are just that, portable. They are able to be stored in a garage or shed and moved from location to location. The second type is a standby generator that occupies a static location beside the home and is connected to the home via a transfer point.
Portable generators can also be connected to a transfer point if the objective is to power a complete home. Typically, to power the entire home the best generator for that purpose is a standby generator and so the main focus here will be on that type.
Advantages of Standby Power
One of the key advantages for going with standby power to power an entire home is this type requires little to no intervention in case of a grid power loss. Should the grid power go off, a standby power generator will respond in a few seconds automatically.
For the portable types, they need to be retrieved from storage, pulled to the location near the home and connected via cords or transfer point. In addition, standby power generators are typically powered by propane or natural gas and so have a longer run time.
Although, there are diesel powered standby generators, these usually require larger tanks or an external tank which require more set up or concern. Of course, there are multi fuel standby generators for those who wish to have extra potential in case of a fuel shortage of one or the other.
Selecting Standby Power
The best process to developing the power numbers needed is to make a list of all devices and appliances used on a typical day in the home.
Everything that is used for a full 24 hour period. Then proceed to each device and appliance and note the amount of volts and amps each device or appliance uses. For refrigerators and central units include the initial draw when the unit first engages the compressor. Most of this information is located on the unit or in the manual for the unit.
Once you have added up all the volts and amps for each device or appliance, use this formula to determine the wattage. Watts= Volts X Amps. The reason for what is used over a full 24 hour period is to help factor the peak usage.
In most situations not every device and appliance will be used at once, however, by using the 24 hour method you have enough calculated power for a whole day of usage and can then easily understand the peak usage should multiple devices be used at once. The wattage that you calculated can now be used to determine what size unit you will need to power your home.
Some recommend selecting the fuel source type next, however in most cases the fuel source will be determined by location. For example, in places with easy access to natural gas, that is preferred. In fact, the next phase in the selection process is to find the right standby generator with the right safety features.
One of the most important features for a standby generator besides wattage size is to make sure the unit has overcharge and overheat protection. Some generators can actually put out too much power and this can cause fires or damage in devices and appliances.
It should also provide surge protection as well. In addition, make sure the unit has voltage regulation. Having a variation in voltage of more than 1 percent up or down can damage sensitive electronics. This is critical if there are any medical devices in the home.
Part Professional Job, Part DIY
Installing a standby generator is part professional job and part do it yourself project. Installing the generator and the component parts are the do it yourself part of the project.
Of course you can take on the whole project yourself, however, if you are unsure about the electrical connections or you live in a city that requires inspections it is best to have a qualified electrician make the connections to the home and grid.
This varies by location naturally but some locations require permitting and inspections and therefore require a professional electrician to make the final connections.
Static standby power is the best generator type for supplying a complete home with power. Always on standby and can deliver power to the home in seconds when called upon. No worries about having to dig out the portable and running cords through the house. Realistically, it isn’t too much more expensive than a portable generator with the capacity for a home and the peace of mind is very comforting. So, if you want full backup power for the home in case of a power outage, standby power is the generator for you.