Rain, hail, tornados. Sounds like a scene from the Wizard of Oz but it’s just spring in the New Jersey area. And with storms come power outages that can last hours or even days.
That can mean minor inconveniences, like not being able to make a cup of coffee or see what you’re doing when you brush your teeth at night. Or it can mean a huge headache, if you can’t run your heat or air conditioning or if your freezer starts to thaw and everything in it is ruined.
But when do power outages go from mere inconvenience to major disruption? That’s what we’re going to tackle today, so that if you’re considering investing in a whole house generator, you’ll feel more confident in your decision.
If you and your family are the rugged outdoors-y types who can eat cold soup by candlelight and live without Candy Crush for a while, then power outages may not affect you as much. Consider how well you can handle a long period of heat or cold if necessary, not to mention the absence of creature comforts and the internet.
Consider, also, the age and health of those in your household. Young children and the elderly may not fare as well if a bad storm knocks out the power on a frigid winter day or a sweltering summer one.
Temperature, humidity, even air quality can be affected when you’re sealed in a power-less home. It can aggravate symptoms of asthma, allergies or respiratory illnesses.
You know your household best – the people, their needs and temperaments – so only you can truly decide where a standby generator falls on a scale from “nice to have” to “must have”.Not the cold soup type? Get a free estimate to install a generator.
Standby generators can power everything from a single room, to the entire house. Of course, the more power required, the larger the unit and the higher the cost.
But before you evaluate the cost of the unit, evaluate the needs of your household. How important is it to power the entire house? Could you manage for a few hours or even a number of days if you had electricity only in select rooms, like a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom? Would it be sufficient to simply power vital components like a refrigerator and HVAC system?
Or are you caring for a sick person with more extensive needs? Perhaps you live in a home (or have a summer home) where a power outage during the winter can mean frozen or burst pipes and damaging floods.
Making a list of “must haves” vs. “nice to haves” can help you choose an appropriate standby generator for your home.
Also consider this: powering more may actually be more cost-effective than powering less. It depends on how your circuits are set up. If an electrician has to set up sub panels to separate circuits so you can power select components or rooms, that could be far more costly than simply investing in a generator that powers everything.
Portable generators are cheap and easy to set up. You can purchase one at just about any home improvement retailer, fill it with gas and start it up.
Standby generators, more specifically permanent standby generators, are more expensive and require professional installation to connect it to your home’s fuel and power supplies.
But there are more significant differences than just cost and speed of installation.
Portable generators must be started manually. That means when the power goes out, someone will need to drag the generator out of the shed or garage and get it going. Depending on the weather conditions at the time, that may be more of an inconvenience – or a danger – than it’s worth.
You’ll also need to ensure that the generator is fueled at all times. During long outages, you may need to refuel it, whether from a backup supply or a run to the nearest gas station. It also means storing flammable gas in or near your home.
Portable generators produce far less power which means you’ll need to be selective about what it supports. There’s a lot of variance in wattage, so you may want to consult a contractor before relying on one to run power-hungry appliances like air conditioners, or you risk damaging the unit.
Permanent standby generators, on the other hand, start automatically when the power goes out. No need to deliberate over whether it’s time to run out into the rain, hail or high winds to start it up.
They tap into your home’s fuel supply so you never have to worry that you’ll run out of gas, or refill it when it does. It’s as safe as turning on your stove. And if you had (or know someone who had) a portable generator during Hurricane Sandy, then you know how long the lines were at the gas stations to fill backup supplies.
Standby generators also run self-diagnostics all year long, whether there is a power outage or not. That means you’ll be alerted to maintenance and repair needs long before they become a problem. You won’t have to wonder whether it will kick in, or kick the bucket, the next time the skies open up.Stop running outside in the rain. Get a free estimate to install a permanent generator.
Much like the leaky roof that you forget to fix until the next rain, generators are easy to forget when the lights are on. If you experience only one or two outages a year or fewer, it probably doesn’t seem like a top priority. It’s easy to push the decision off until the freak hail or tornado, when you’re stuck for days without electricity.
Plenty of people were fairly certain of their power supply until Hurricane Sandy hit, and the unluckiest ones found themselves without power for as long as two weeks.
You may recall that there was a run on portable generators, as everyone raced to their local Home Depot, Lowes and other retailers. Suddenly everyone was sold out, and even if you wanted a generator, you couldn’t get one. Then there were the long lines at the gas stations that we mentioned – if you were lucky enough to find one open that still had gas.
So the question is less, “Is a generator a good investment?” and more, “Do you want to risk another Hurricane Sandy or something similar?”
Think of a permanent standby generator like insurance. If you have multiple power outages and are tired of dealing with the headache, they can give you much-needed peace of mind. And even if you don’t experience frequent outages, you’ll have the insurance that a power supply will kick in whenever you do need it.
If you’re wondering what type and size of generator is best for your home and want to know how much it will cost to install, contact us for a free estimate. We’ll answer all your questions and help you make a decision that works for you financially and practically for your needs.