A Generator Can Make a Rolling Blackout Bearable, but Should You Choose Portable or Standby?

When the power grid is overloaded, the power company can temporarily cut the power to your home. This can happen when parts of the power grid are damaged in a wind or ice storm, or when extreme temperatures lead to high demand from home heaters and air conditioners. If you want (or need) to keep the power on in your home during a rolling blackout, you need a home generator.

There are two types: 1) standby generators are permanently installed outside your home and connected to your hoA Generator Can Make a Rolling Blackout Bearable, but Should You Choose Portable or Standby?me’s electrical and fuel systems, while portable generators are stored until they’re needed; they can be hooked up to your home, but generally you plug your appliances into outlets or cords on the generator itself.

Details of Each Type of Generator:

Standby generators:

  • Are permanently installed outside your home. They’re connected to your natural gas or propane supply, so there’s no hassle with manual refueling.
  • Turn on almost instantly when you lose power in your home. With the common whole-house model, all your power outlets work as normal since the generator is directly connected to your home through a transfer switch. Smaller standby models are available to provide power to essential circuits or to rotate power among circuits as they’re needed.
  • Cost considerably more than portable systems, since installation may require both a plumber and an electrician, but they do produce more power.

Portable generators:

  • Are powered by gasoline or propane. If you need to use it for an extended amount of time, you’ll need to supply more fuel.
  • Require set-up and maintenance. If the power goes out, you’ll need to set the generator up in a safe place, start it up, and run extension cords to the devices you want to power.
  • Must be operated outside, so carbon monoxide gas doesn’t enter your home.
  • Are cheaper than standby systems. There’s no installation, and you can fit one in your car.

To find out how much energy (measured in watts) you’ll need, buy a wattage meter. It will tell you how much power each appliance you want to use consumes; then buy a generator to match. If you’d like a helping hand calculating your wattage or have other questions about standby generators, please contact us at Geisel Heating, Air Conditioning and Plumbing.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Cleveland, Ohio about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about generators and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

For those Do it Yourselfers who would rather take control of your own indoor comfort, you can shop our online store for replacement parts, products and accessories!    

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