Major storms do major damage. One recent example is Hurricane Sandy, which killed over a hundred people, did $50 billion in damages, and knocked out electricity to millions of homes. Loss of power can be particularly hard, and even fatal, on many people. This is true especially in the winter when Arctic winds comes. The recent and repeated phenomena of the “polar vortex” brings sub-freezing temperatures with ice and snow storms that take out power lines and delay first responders. The very young, very old, and those with certain medical conditions requiring medical equipment are most at risk without electricity to negate extreme temperatures and power the devices they rely on. The best protection against being left in the cold and dark is getting the best whole house generator, with the help of professional home generator reviews.
Why Should You Get the Best Whole House Generator?
If you absolutely can’t do without power to the entire house, or don’t want to face the limitations of a small, gas-powered generator selecting from among the best whole house generators (for example:
A unit generating 20 kilowatts can easily power the average home, and you may not need to forego the microwave popcorn or even turn down the AC. It depends on the size of the home and power needs; a 5,000 watt unit might be better for an RV or small cottage. The best whole house generators allow even very large homes with high power use to keep things running smoothly no matter what happens to the public power grid. Most likely you’ll conserve power to conserve fuel, but if you’re one of those whose loved ones or livelihood depend on electricity being available, the best whole house generator for you budget is vital.
Boredom is also an issue. If you face the possibility of days without electricity, that means days without television, computers, electric lights, and all the other conveniences. More than boredom, it could mean misery. It means no AC or fans in the stifling heat of summer, and little warmth in the bone-chilling winter. No more home-cooked meals. Children and even adults will tend to go stir-crazy. Even if you have a camp stove or back yard grill for meals, no power means all that food in the freezer or refrigerator will go bad, and you’ll find yourself making daily trips for fresh supplies and bags of ice. Aside from comfort, there is also safety to worry about, without bright lights and backup power to security systems.
What Do You Need To Know Before Buying a Whole House Generator?
The best whole house generators can of course be pricey. The more power you need, the more you’re going to pay up front. Then there’s fuel costs. The more power you use, and the longer runtime the generator needs to provide it, the more fuel you need. The type of fuel a particular unit uses, and how expensive it is or difficult to get in your area, should be considered when shopping for a whole house generator. Fuel levels will have to be checked, unless you want to be scrambling for fuel every time the weatherman predicts a storm. Some units might also require a certain amount of fuel pressure, so be sure your hardware or local utility can deliver.
There’s also a noise factor. Even a portable generator can run at a constant 80 decibels – about the sound of a loud lawn mower, and running continuously. A whole house unit is generally more efficient and more insulated. But noise level is something to consider, so be sure to take a look at the manufacturer ratings and consumer reviews for each prospective unit to give you some idea, balanced against any options for enclosures, insulation, or sound-proofing. Many models are given a rating of 62 decibels, but that is often the noise level measured at 25 feet away. The closer the generator is to your living area, the lower level of noise you’ll be looking for.
There may be hidden costs. A licensed electrician will be needed to do the electrical work, and probably a plumber or local utility technician to hook the unit up to its fuel source. A contractor may have to come in to pour the concrete slab. Whole house generators tend to be bulky, so unloading, moving, and space requirements should be considered. Unless you or friends and relatives can handles all this safely and reliably, special labor costs should be factored in.
As a home generator is a permanent addition to your home, and will generally contribute to its value, you may also run into red tape such as building permits and property tax. There are also safety inspections and code requirements. Sometimes the retailer or installer will handle these things, but it pays to be sure up front, so you don’t get slapped with a fine or citation for non-permitted improvements.
Odds are you won’t need the unit to run at full blast 24/7, but noise levels and fuel consumption can also be dependent on run time.
Before purchasing, make sure a trained technician visits your home to assess your power needs, living area cubic footage, home electrical system, appliances, and possible installation issues. Find out the minimum level of wattage you need, and go from there.
There’s also quality and durability. Whole house generators work hard and will need maintenance if they’re going to be ready to power your home in an emergency. The best whole house generators can be set up with periodic self-tests to ensure they’ll be up and running when needed. Standby generators require a short run-time periodically, known as exercise, to test and ensure the system is functioning properly and ready for an emergency.
How Much Should You Spend on a Home Generator?
Be aware that the energy produced by generators is not the same as grid-supplied electricity.Generators produce harmonic distortion, which can affect or even damage sensitive devices like televisions and computers.
To get your own rough estimate of what kind power you’ll need, you’ll have to add up the relative requirements of the appliances in your home. You can find a guide online on sites like consumerreports.org. Adding up all these numbers will give you an idea of the maximum wattage you might be consuming. though you should refer to an expert technician for actual needs, at least this will give you a rough idea of what kind of wattage you’re going to need.
A permanent generator that provides 10-15 Kilowatts will typically cost between $3,000 – $10,000, and an added $400 – $1,000 for installation fees. A larger generator that can provide 20 – 40 Kilowatts will usually cost between $5,000 and $20,000. These generators will operate even if you’re away, saving you the headache of returning home to a refrigerator full of spoiled food. In terms of relative costs, it’s often wiser to spend that extra $500 or so on higher wattage for your family needs.
To determine the best whole house generator for your needs, make a list of items you would want powered during a blackout. Each device should have a watt rating. If there is only an amps rating, multiply that number by 120 to find the wattage. If an appliance uses a motor, you’ll have to find the startup wattage and use that instead. Add up the total wattage of the items, and then add an additional 10 or 15 percent to be safe. This is the amount of power your choice of the best whole house generator must provide in order to meet your needs.
Even the best whole house generators involve extra costs such as fuel tank installation and set up fees, consider that generators are generally a little larger than comparable AC units, and regulations usually require that they be located x amount of feet from property lines or dwellings, and concealed by fences or shrubbery, all of which can add up. Some local regulations may also include periodic inspections.