A generator is a savior-ship when a blackout occurs; it can keep your food from spoiling, can run the sump pump and home security system, and can maintain the normalcy in your life.
You can perform your daily tasks as scheduled when you have a backup generator. A talk about generators mostly breaks out after a power outage or before a natural disaster.
Then after most people rush to the market to buy the generator. But what should you know before buying a generator and what to ask?
In this post, we have given the answers to most of the questions which you should ask yourself before you make a decision.
Which generator Should I get, standby or portable?
Standby generators work on propane or natural gas, available on existing gas supply at the house, which means virtually they can run indefinitely. They don’t require refueling.
Standby generators cost more, not only on its purchase price but on the installation procedure too, it needs to be installed by a professional.
These are best as a backup generator for homes and businesses. They are powerful units and can power the whole house. Moreover, they operate automatically; when the power goes out, the generator will start, and when it comes back, it will turn off on its own accord.
Whereas portable generators are smaller units and don’t cost that much. They can be transported, with wheels and carrying handles, almost anywhere where power is needed. They require manual starting and need to be placed away from your house.
They are noisy. Their runtime will depend on the load and size of a fuel tank. However, you can be rest assured that they can provide a runtime of eight to nine hours.
How much will be the operating cost for a portable generator?
The operating cost depends majorly on the price of the fuel, which keeps fluctuating daily. For a general estimate, a diesel generator of 8-kW will consume about 0.5 gallons of diesel hourly.
So if you want your whole house generator to run for, say 12 hours, then find out the price of a diesel per gallon and find out how much fuel a generator will burn in 12 hours. Now, you can find out how much you will spend on fuel when running your generator for 12 hours.
Other than that, also add the maintenance cost to the fuel cost, and you will have your operating cost monthly or annually.
Is maintenance of a generator easy?
Yes, it is easy, you can perform it yourself. The periodic and proper maintenance is the key to a longer lifetime; a generator will run without any problems if you do this.
The main thing you will need to check is the oil level, and if this is not done properly, then the generator engine can suffer from irreparable damage. So, make sure that you do the oil changes promptly, and don’t forget.
Other than that, check the generator for any kind of visual damage and follow other maintenance guidelines provided in the instruction manual.
Even if you have done your best in maintenance, yet, a maintenance check from a professional is mandatory. If need be, You can ask for maintenance tips from the company helpline.
Which Fuel Should I Use?
The selection of the generator will depend on which fuel you would like to use. The most common fuels are diesel, natural gas, and propane.
Depending on the fuel, the operating cost of the generator will vary; the price of the fuel will determine it. So, it is important that you keep all the things in mind before making a final call.
Propane is the cleanest fuel available, and it emits very little toxic exhaust into the environment. It is an eco-friendly option. The long shelf life of propane makes it great to be used in an emergency as you won’t have to go anywhere to buy the fuel; it can be stored for about 10 to 12 years.
But, you should also acknowledge the fact that it is costly; the generators are also costly. So, if you have a budget and don’t mind a bit of a high operating cost, then you can certainly go with the propane.
Propane has a limitation on its availability, but diesel can be easily obtained even in the countryside. Besides easy access, its cost is less and so is the cost of diesel generators. The fuel cost is subjected to price fluctuations.
Diesel generators have a very low starting time, as they reach their peak effectiveness very fast. This is why they are mainly used as a backup solution where continuous power is needed. It also makes a great home backup generator. It is the most sought-after fuel choice of many homeowners.
Natural Gas :
Natural gas will be available at your house via pipeline from your utility company. If you choose natural gas, then there will be no need to store the fuel or to buy it from a gas station or refuel the generator.
It directly gets connected to the standby generator. The selection of natural gas will limit you to a standby generator. Portable generators which work on natural gas aren’t available.
When it comes to cost, then it will be decided by your utility company. You can’t buy it around the corner at a cheap price. Plus, if a pipeline gets damaged for any reason, then there will be no natural gas available, supply will be cut off.
Where Should the Generator be Placed?
In some states, there are code requirements, so check if there are any before you choose a place to keep your generator.
A portable generator will need storage space and a place to keep it when it is running. You can store it in the garage or a shed outside your house; if not, then you can find a suitable place inside the house.
Just make sure that when you need it again, you can conveniently access it. When it is running, a recommended distance from the house is 20 feet, it should be 20 feet away, and in the open, so the air can freely move around the unit.
Now, for a standby unit, the location should be such that the maintenance can be easily performed and it stays safe from water accumulation, especially if there is a flood.
It will need to be installed by a professional, so you can ask him/her to pinpoint the best, safe, and appropriate spot. A good location is where a fuel supply is also nearby.