Back Up Power

generatorBeing prepared with a back up power system in the event of a major disaster or prolonged power outage is another important step in disaster planning.

Backup power generator is a great product to help maintain electricity in your home during eletrical power failures, disasters, as well as blackouts and rolling brownouts.

There are a variety of alternative power sources out there to choose from such as portable generators that will allow you to operator a few select items and the standby whole house generators that will switch on automacially when there is a power outage.

The most commonly used backup power sources are portable gas and propane generators; however, there are other alternative types such as wind and solar power generators.

Buying Guide for a New  Generator

Generators can keep the whole house powered or just certain appliances like refrigerators, freezers and emergency medical equipment.

Here are some things you need to consider before
purchasing a new generator.

  • Do you want back up power for only a few appliances or for all of your appliances?

  • Create a list of the items you want to run off the generator and the wattage requirement of each item (note any differences for start-up and usage).

  • Do you want a permanent or portable generator - one that will kick on automatically when the power shuts off and switches off when the power returns or one that you will hook up as needed.

  • Determine the type of fuel source you will use; gas, diesel, propane or do you want to go the wind or solar route.

  • When comparing prices within your wattage requirements the average unit ranges from $500 to $3,000 depending upon brand, size, wattage, fuel source, warranty and maintenance requirements.

Figure on $500 to $1,000 for installing stationary generators and, for all types, at least $500 for a power-transfer switch to power hardwired circuits, which avoids having to run extension cords.

Back Up Power Generator Reviews

Consumer Reports tested 15 generators to help you prepare for power outages. Many are better and safer than before, but one important thing to consider - refueling some generators could be a challenge during a power outage.

If you are using gas or diesel you will need to have plenty of fuel on hand, since filling stations often shut down during blackouts and most home-sized models use 12 to 18 gallons of gasoline per day. You'll also need to preserve that fuel with stabilizer and store it in a well-vented shed or other area, away from the house and any ignition source.

Gasoline can’t be stored for a long time and diesel is not readily available so it would best to use propane. There are times that home generators are available in dual- or tri-fuel format wherein switching fuels is totally fine.

Also, be aware that manufacturers often overstate run time for gasoline models by basing it on 50 percent load. Consumer Reports run times use a more conservative, 80 percent load.

Gas, Diesel and Propane Fuel Risks

  • Prevent carbon-monoxide poisoning by always running your generator outdoors and at least 15 feet away from the house. Never run it in the basement or garage or other enclosed space.

  • Reduce fire risk by turning off gasoline-powered generators before refueling them.

  • Store gasoline in an ANSI-approved container and in a cool, well-ventilated area.

Most Popular Back Up Power Source

Portable Backup Power

Portable generators are the most popoular back up power source and Consumer Reports has tested portable models that claimed between 2,800 and 6,600 watts—enough to power plug-in appliances and lights, but not nearly enough for heavy power drains like central heat & air.

Wheeled, portable generators are the biggest sellers.

NorthStar GeneratorOne portable, is the new NorthStar 8000 Watt Generator packs more power, greater fuel efficiency and quieter operation into a new, space-saving design. Fuel Capacity (gal.): 6.5, Low Oil Shutdown: Yes, Rated Watts: 6,600, Receptacles (qty.): Eight 120V, 20A outlets; one 120/240V, 30A locking outlet; one 120V, 30A locking outlet; 12VDC outlet, Start Type: Recoil, Run Time: 10 hrs. at 1/2 load.

NorthStar Portable Generator - 8,000 Surge Watts, 6,600 Rated Watts, EPA and CARB-Compliant

Honeywell Gas Powered Portable Generator

This portable generator by Honeywell is designed to provide a reliable source of portable power ideal for a variety of uses. The Honeywell 7500E-6039 gas-powered generator is ideal for home emergency, events, power tools, and more. Its Generac OHV (overhead valve) engine delivers a 7,500-watt power supply wherever you need it and a maximum starting power output of 9,375 watts. And this model features a push-button electric start with included battery for hassle-free start-up.

Honeywell 6039 7,500 Watt 420cc OHV Portable Gas Powered Generator with Electric Start

Back Up Power for the Whole House

Of course, they are more expensive than portables and require professional installation, which are their main disadvantages. Note however, such systems do increase the value of the house.

Stationary, outside-mounted generators are a growing alternative back up power supply, since they run on propane or natural gas and supply more power. Here are two of the most popular brands.

Kohler GeneratorKohler generators are known throughout the industry for extraordinary reliability and performance, incorporating a premium level of excellence in design that lets you enjoy unsurpassed performance in the generator size that is right for you. KOHLER also introduces the industry's first 100% corrosion-proof enclosure for style and protection from the harshest conditions. 5-year or 2000-hour limited warranty.

Kohler 14RESAL 14,000-Watt Air-Cooled Standby Generator with 100 Amp/16-Circuit Automatic Transfer Switch

The Generac Guardian Series 5871 10,000 / 9,000 Watt Air-Cooled Propane/Natural Gas Powered Automatic Standby Generator with Steel Enclosure.Generac Guardian Series Standby GeneratorIdeal for home use, this generator powers up automatically and within seconds of a power outage without the need for any manual startup. Without any buttons to push or cords to plug in, an automatic standby generator starts up by itself even when you're away! Featuring easy installation, it comes pre-wired and packaged with virtually everything necessary to connect to your home's electrical system and existing LP or natural gas fuel supply, so you can be protected the next time the lights go out.

Generac Guardian Series 5871 10,000 Watt Air-Cooled Liquid Propane/Natural Gas Powered Standby Generator With Transfer Switch (CARB Compliant)

Alternative to Gas & Propane Generators

Wind and Solar Back Up Power

Wind's efficiency and reliability makes it one of the best available sources of energy. If you are considering a wind generator look for:

  • Those that offer a 3-5 year warranty or more. This is also a good indicator that the manufacturers have confidence in what they are producing because they know they would not make a profit using sub standard equipment backed with a long warranty.

  • Systems which allow energy to be stored using a direct DC supply. You will also want to install an inverter to convert your stored DC energy into an AC supply for powering appliances in the home.

  • Avoid any generators which come with built-in inverters as these can become easily damaged and will cost quite a bit to replace.

Other Back Up Power Sources

Solar Powered Generator

There are many ways to collect solar energy including solar panels, parabolic troughs, solar dishes, and solar power towers with reflecting mirrors.

How Solar Works

The solar panels utilize amorphous solar cells capable of producing power in cloudy, low-light conditions and in temperatures down to -40 F.

f you need more power, simply hook up additional panels.

Sunforce Solar Charging Kit

The Sunforce 50048 60-Watt Solar Charging Kit gives you several more reasons to love the sun. It provides the power you need, while helping you save money and protect the environment. This kit is ideal for cabins, recreational vehicles, remote power, back-up power, and 12-volt battery charging. It comes with everything you need to start producing up to 60 Watts/4 Amps of clean, free power in all weather conditions.    

Sunforce 50048 60W Solar Charging Kit Click Here to Purchase

This kit is ideal for cabins, recreational vehicles, remote power, back-up power, and 12-volt battery charging. It comes with everything you need to start producing up to 60 Watts/4 Amps of clean, free power in all weather conditions.

Special Note - Install a transfer switch to connect the unit to your home's wiring system - never connect a generator directly to your home. Hire a qualified electrician to install a transfer switch if you are connecting the generator directly to your home's electrical system.

Reliance Control Transfer SwitchReliance Controls 31406CRK Pro/Tran 6-Circuit 30 Amp Generator Transfer Switch Kit With Transfer Switch, 10-Foot Power Cord, And Power Inlet Box For Up To 7,500-Watt Generators


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