What are the Best Generators For Home Use?
Generators provide backup power when the main source of electricity is unavailable. In many places, it is the only source of power, particularly in areas that are too remote to tap into the power supply grid. A residential generator uses a small engine that converts mechanical energy to make it useful as electric energy. Before choosing a generator for home use, you need to consider the following:
Residential or Commercial?
A commercial generator typically provides a lot more power than a residential generator. It is usually bigger and has a larger fuel capacity, allowing it to work for extended periods of time. While more powerful, commercial generators are not always a good choice for most homes for several reasons.
Commercial generators tend to produce more power than the average home needs which make them inefficient for home use. Furthermore, they typically use up more fuel. For residential generators, manufacturers usually put a lot of effort into making them quieter however this is not the case most of the time with commercial generators. So most of the time they will be a lot louder.
For these reasons in most cases it is best to purchase a generator specifically designed for residential use.
Stationary Generator or Portable Generator?
Stationary or standby generators are preferred for long-term continuous use. These can be connected to a source of fuel, such as a gas line and is hooked up to the wiring of a house or building. In case of a power outage, it can start automatically or manually through a push button.
Stationary generators can also turn off on its own and reconnect the house to utility lines once the power is back again. The transfer time is brief and can be as short as 10 seconds or as long as 30 seconds, depending on the model. Standbys are generally more powerful and offer a more convenient source of emergency power. They also tend to be bulky and more costly.
A portable generator is a good option for homes that require an external power source for a limited number of hours. Portables run on fuel and generally need to be refilled several times a day. As an alternative, there are also models that can be hooked up to a gas line for extended use.
The benefit portables generators have over stationary models is their portability. They are lighter and can be carried around on trucks and RVs to provide a power source for outdoor activities like camping, fishing, and several others. Some models, like those from Yamaha, are actually light enough to be carried around in one hand. Most of these generators are also comparatively less expensive.
A residential generator should have enough power to meet the needs of a household during a power outage. There are actually a few load calculators online that can be useful but most of these offer only a ballpark figure – an estimate that most homeowners will not find helpful.
A better option is to determine how much the required power is in order to run the different types of lights, appliances and electrical equipment during a power outage. Once these are turned on and operated simultaneously, the power consumption can then be measured for a more accurate load reading.
An efficient home generator is one that has a slightly higher wattage than the combined simultaneous loads in the house, which should include the total running watts of all electrical devices and the startup wattage of the largest appliance. Be especially careful about calculating power needs of resource-hungry equipment, such as air conditioners and water heaters since these can demand a lot from the generator.
To be on the safe side, look for a residential generator that offers sufficient surge capability and a feature that allows the user to prioritize loads. ‘Intelligent control’ and automatic features are also helpful in that these allow the generator to work independently and safely.