Power Up After the Storm with a Generator for Your Home By Robert Cummings of Cummings Electric
With all of the unstable weather patterns we have been experiencing lately being prepared for a major
storm should be top priority. Almost all of us live in a geographic area susceptible to earthquakes,
hurricanes, tornados, or ice storms. In each of those disasters, a backup emergency generator can
quickly become your most valuable possession.
Generators come in different sizes and types. The larger the generator the more items you can operate
at once. You must balance your anticipated needs in an emergency with the cost of the generator.
Generally, there are two types of generators to choose from. The first type is the permanent standby
generator. This generator is installed as part of the electrical system in your home or business and
provides power directly to the building’s wiring. An automatic switch prevents the generator from “back
feeding” power to utility lines, as well as protecting the generator from damage once power is restored.
Permanent standby generators must be installed by a licensed electrician and require inspection from
your township building department.
The portable generator is probably more familiar to the homeowner. With a portable generator, you
can physically move the generator to the location required, and hook up specific items directly to
the generator. Most homes require a 5,000-watt generator, which cost between $500 and $3,000,
depending on options and quality. You may also opt for a smaller unit, capable of running a few lights,
fan, and a television. If you anticipate running a large appliance such as a full-size refrigerator, sump
pump, or water-well pump, make sure your generator can start and maintain the item. You do not want
to ruin the motor of your appliance because you tried to operate it with a small generator that could not
provide the appliance with the proper electrical current.
Consult with your electrician; evaluate what items you will need in an emergency and the amount of
current they pull. Your electrical contractor will then total the watts and offer you a generator that can
operate the amount of wattage you require. Also, keep in mind the type of emergency you anticipate.
Living in New Jersey you can expect blizzard conditions, a generator that will safely operate your furnace
will prevent frozen pipes, as well as keep you warm. If you live in the coastal Part of New Jersey you
also need to be ready for a hurricane, you will need a generator that can operate a cooling system, or
at least a few fans, as well as your refrigerator. And any home that is supplied by well water will require
the well pump to be on a generator if you want to flush the toilet.
As with any household appliance, there are some safety hazards associated with generators. As stated
earlier, generators installed as part of your homes electrical system can back feed current into your
home, causing damage to equipment, or even cause a fire if not properly installed. Consult a qualified
electrician to install this type of generator. Also, generators burn fuel and must be run outdoors.
Generators should never be run in a garage or in any room that connects to the house. Cords to and
from your generator should be properly sized to prevent overheating and damage to equipment. By
following these straightforward guidelines, you can enjoy heating or cooling, unspoiled food, cold beer,
working bathrooms, and even a little entertainment during an otherwise disastrous situation.