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A Checklist for Selecting and Installing a Residential Generator

generator installation

American homes were first introduced to the power of electricity in the 1920s (pun intended). By the end of the World War II, nearly every home across the country was hooked into the electrical grid. Now, we cannot imagine life without electricity. It's not that we can't imagine using a gas lamp to hand-write our correspondence after dark, it's that so much of our way of life depends on electricity. Almost half of our electrical usage is heating and cooling. In fact, 5% of all electricity across the U.S. goes straight into the 66% of homes that have air conditioners, to keep them cool. And let's not even try to let imagine life without hot water heater, refrigerator, or electrical devices.

As our dependence on electrical power grows, so does the likelihood that we will encounter a power outage. According to the energy reporting organization, Inside Energy, the aging utility infrastructure combined with more frequent extreme weather conditions and our increased electrical usage has put a strain on the power grid, making outages far more frequent. Over the last 50 years, the number of power outages that Americans experience doubles every five years; this means that we experience 400% more power outages now than we did just 10 years ago. It is no surprise that many homeowners are turning to residential generator installation for reliability during our increased outages.

If you are one of those homeowners researching generator installation, we've created a checklist of things to consider, to help ensure that you get the most reliable generator services for your particular set of needs:

  1. Consider your priorities for generator installation
    While you are researching types of electric generators, you will notice generators are ranked by the wattage they produce. A generator's wattage determines how many electrical fixtures it can support, and how well they will run.

    In a power outage situation, you will probably only use essential electrical appliances. Most residential generators are designed to power your air-conditioning, lighting, refrigerator, an outlet to charge a phone, and if you are in a flood-prone area, perhaps a sump pump during an outage. This can usually be covered with a 5000-wattage generator, but your particular needs might vary. Take an inventory of your essential electrical usage and calculate the wattage demands before going any further with your generator installation process.

  2. Consider any extra generator installation features that matter to you
    Some features that homeowners look for in electric generator include:
    • Automatic back up
      As soon as there is a power outage, the generator automatically comes on.

    • Alternative fuel
      Most portable generators run on gasoline. Some have the option of being fueled by the homes propane or natural gas line, and some generators can be converted if they are not already equipped for it.

    • Start method
      Most portable generators start just with a pull chain, similar to how you start a lawnmower. Some have a feature that allows them to be started with the push of a button.

    • There are many additional features to meet your particular needs that you can consider after identifying what matters most to you.

  3. Select you transfer switch or interlock device
    You will need either a transfer switch or interlock device to use your generator. A transfer switch links your generator to your circuit box that controls electricity in your home and manages the power supply, to protect your electrical appliances from being fried, as well as anyone in contact with the power grid (such as utility workers) from electrocution. An interlock device just keeps the main power supply off, so that both the grid and the generator are not pushing power into your home at the same time, which is very bad news.

    The transfer switch gives you more flexibility and safety in a power outage, but costs $500 or more to purchase and install. An interlock device is limited in its functionality, but only costs $50- $150.

  4. Bring in a pro for safe generator installation
    The electricity created by a generator can be deadly if powered incorrectly. You should always rely on a professional to install your generator after you have chosen it.

Do you have any questions about residential generator installation? Please share them in the comment section or contact us directly.

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