Having a constant and reliable electrical system is an important part of modern life. Virtually every device in the average home uses this type of power in at least some capacity. If a storm knocks out the power or problems arise with your electric service, it is important to continue to have power for the things we need on a daily basis.
A portable generator fits this bill nicely and can be a cost effective electrical backup system for most homes. There are, however, a few important considerations to make when looking to buy one. Being educated is the best way to make getting and using one go off without a hitch.
Things to Look for When Selecting a Portable Generator
There are a few important things to look for closely when selecting which portable generator to buy. Failure to do so can result in having to return your first pick to purchase the correct one. This can be both aggravating and time consuming, so taking these simple steps is well worth the time.
Size and Wattage
Your first concern should be selecting a model that meets the power needs for all devices you want it to support. This is measured in wattage, with more devices requiring a higher wattage output. The best thing to do is make a worksheet listing the power requirements for each device. These values can be found easily on most appliances and electronics. Add these values up, and select a generator that exceeds that resulting number.
It is wise to get one that is more powerful, in case you want to add devices in the future. The wattage rating for the average home is about 5,000 watts. The size of the generator should also be considered, especially if you plan to move it around.
While most portable generators run on gasoline, there are more options on the market now. Propane, natural gas, and even solar power, are all choices available for reasonable costs. Consider which type of fuel will work best for your individual needs and select accordingly.
Portable generators now come with many added features that can make operation simpler and more efficient. These include things like automatic and electric start, mufflers, and integrated fuel gauges. Know which extras you need and can afford and make sure your selection has them.
Connecting one or more appliances or devices to a portable generator is usually a simple matter. Any device that has a cord can be plugged into the sockets located on the generator itself. It is usually best to plug it in directly, since an extension cord can affect the powered devices’ performance.
Since most portable generators are placed outside, however, it may be necessary to use an extension cord. Since running multiple cords from the devices to the generator can be hazardous, pick one that has multiple outlets. This allows you to keep things neat and tidy and reduce the possibility of tripping or an unsightly appearance. Make sure the cord has thick insulation; otherwise it could overheat and start a fire.
As with all electric and fuel-driven devices, safety is extremely important. Always consider the following things before you actually use your generator.
- Ventilation: Since most portable generators run on some variety of fossil fuel, proper ventilation is mandatory. Never run a generator in a closed room, open all windows until its smell dissipates completely. If possible, place the generator outside to avoid any possibility of suffocation.
- Fire or Explosion: Improper handling of the fuel can result in catastrophic and deadly fires, or even explosions. Take great care when handling the fuel, and make sure not to over fill the tank.
- Electrocution: If you are not absolutely sure about how to hook up the model you bought, consult a professional. Never connect the generator directly to your home’s power, as back-feed can easily cause injury or death.
- Placement: Make sure to clear enough room around the generator, usually at least five feet. Try to avoid areas where children can easily access it, since it can hurt them. Place it on a flat area that is free from excessive dirt and moisture.
Having a portable generator when the power goes out can be a blessing, one well worth the time and expense it takes to acquire it. Understanding these basic considerations should easily lead you to a positive experience.