Important Considerations for Backup Generators | Best Pick Reports

Many homeowners install backup generators that run on natural gas, propane, gasoline, or diesel to provide their homes with electricity in the event of a power outage. Electricians typically sell and install these systems. Before purchasing a system, you should clearly define how you plan to use it.

One issue to consider is how much of your home you would like or need to use when the power is out. A lower cost option might provide only enough electricity to power the refrigerator and a few lights, while a more expensive option may provide enough electricity to power the whole house, including the air conditioners. Before purchasing a generator, add up the power requirements of the appliances and fixtures you intend to operate, and then buy a generator that is sized appropriately.

Another important decision is whether to purchase an automatic or a manual generator. While more expensive, the automatic option senses the loss of power from the public utility, automatically starts the generator, and automatically switches the home’s load to the generator. The manual option often requires the homeowner to wheel the generator out, plug it into the home’s wiring, start it, and manually switch the home’s electrical load to the generator.

All backup generator options that supply electricity through the home’s wires require the installation of a transfer switch. As the name suggests, the transfer switch transfers the home’s load from the public utility to the generator and back again. Because an improperly installed transfer switch could allow electricity to backfeed into the utility lines, which could potentially electrocute a utility worker, only qualified electricians should install transfer switches.