Winter is around the corner and the holiday season is upon us, are you ready for this winter season? While you may be out shopping for gifts and decorations, one very important easily missed item that’s needed to prepare for any holiday season is the gift of power independence. During the winter season power outages have doubled in the last 2 decades in the United States and having a backup plan ready is a must to ensure that you and your family won’t be left in the dark this season. In this article we’ll be covering how to start preparing for the next winter storm outage.
If your area is prone to power outages during winter, then purchasing a generator is a must to keep your lights on and your family safe; but, finding the right one to suit your needs can be overwhelming. Luckily, we’re here to simplify the process, here’s a breakdown of the steps.
- The first step to finding the right generator is determining what essential items that you’d like to keep running during an outage and notate the power requirements. Please note to keep in mind that there are 2 ratings for any item that has a motor, compressor, or generates heat or cold; the rated output which is the minimum power requirement to keep the item running; and the starting output which is the initial startup wattage requirement to get the motor spinning or heat generated. The startup requirement is typically 2 to 3 times higher on average than the rated output.
- The second step will be to add up all the rated wattages of the items listed and add the single highest starting wattage of all the listed items; then your total will be the size generator you’ll want to look for.
- The third step is to determine what fuel type is best to use for your situation. Here’s a list of different generator fuel types available and the advantages and disadvantages of each:
- Gasoline – The most common fuel to use in a generator. The advantage for gasoline is that it tends to maintain a higher power output and is readily available in most areas around the US. The disadvantage for gasoline is that it has a very short shelf life, requires more generator maintenance on average, and is commonly the first fuel to run out during an emergency.
- Propane – Is a great green alternative fuel to use in generators. The advantage for propane is that it has an indefinite shelf life, requires less generator maintenance, can be stored in very large quantities, is better for the environment, and is less likely to run out than gasoline in the event of an emergency. The disadvantage for propane is that it commonly will produce slightly less wattage when compared to gasoline (most current models have 5% power drop from gasolines wattage output) and some US locations might have limited access to propane.
- Natural Gas – Is also another great option as a fuel source. The advantage to natural gas is that it can be an unlimited fuel source that hooks directly to your home line, is more environmentally friendly when compared to gasoline, and has an indefinite shelf life. The disadvantage to natural gas is that it produces less wattage on average than propane or gasoline, may not be available in some US areas, and requires a plumber for installation.
- The fourth step is to determine the best way to hook the generator to your home. Here’s a list of common ways to hook the generator to a home and the advantages and disadvantages to each:
- Transfer switch – The most common and traditional way to hook up a generator to your home. The advantages to a transfer switch are that it is simpler to operate than other options, the circuits are already prewired to the items you want to run helping eliminate the guess work, and some models are available with automatic options to switch to generator power when the transfer switch senses the power is out. The disadvantage to the transfer switch is that it is the more expensive option for both the equipment and installation, typically has a longer installation time, and the circuit choices are hard wired and not easily changed after installation.
- Interlock kit – The newer option on the block that’s been gaining popularity. The main advantages to an interlock kit are that the equipment and installation costs are much less than a transfer switch, faster installation when compared to transfer switch, and the interlock kit allows full access to your breaker panel. The disadvantage to the interlock kit is that it can be easier to accidentally overload your generator, requires an electrician to install, and the circuits will need to be manually flipped on each time.
- Extension cords – This can be the easiest solution for most people that don’t want to invest in installation costs. The main advantage to using extension cords will be that it is the cheapest option of the three, it doesn’t require an electrician to install, and can be set up quickly. The disadvantage to this option won’t be capable of powering hardwired appliances in the home, and the extension cords getting ran through the house can be messy and cause trip hazards.
- The final step for the process is to get estimates on the installation costs with your local electrician (if applicable) and purchase the right generator for your needs.
Keep in mind that it is better to plan and prepare in advance before winter season starts because once the storm is bearing down it can be very difficult to obtain a generator due to high demand and shipping restrictions. Start your plan today and don’t risk your family getting caught off guard this winter season. We here at DuroMax have multiple generator options to fit everyone’s needs, and we offer generators in dual fuel (propane and gasoline), and tri fuel (propane, gasoline, and natural gas) for maximum fuel flexibility. See our home backup generator options here. Enjoy the peace of mind and freedom of power independence.