A power outage can be a catastrophic incident depending on what you are running and where you are. For most of us, an extended power outage is more of an inconvenience, although it can lead to losing an entire fridge full of food if the power stays off long enough. Yet, not only natural disasters can cause massive power cuts, also planned maintenance projects can cause massive shutdowns as we just saw in California.
For businesses, this can be a huge deal. Power outage can knock out machines in industrial settings, computers, servers, security features, and a litany of other things that have since come to be electrically powered. That is why it is imperative to never let a power outage derail you again.
Thankfully, there is one tool that is on your side to make sure that power outages become a thing of the past: generators. Generators, depending on the kind that you get, can keep you running long through any blackout.
You’ll never use it until you can’t do without it
For many of us, having a generator seems like a complete afterthought until the need is there. If you live in an area that sees a lot of storms, you might have a better idea of what it is like to go without power on a somewhat regular basis. It’s a huge hassle and one that no one needs to deal with.
There are also cases of complete grid shutdowns everywhere in the US on a daily basis. This is much rarer but when it happens, power can go out across an entire city. This means that you could be waiting a long, long time before your power situation is addressed by the local power company.
With a generator, you can ensure that you have power for as long as you need it if you have a gas generator. This can be a bit trickier with battery backups as they have a distinct life and are not meant to hold up for long blackouts. If you want to learn more regarding preparation for long blackputs see the FCC/FEMA Tips for preparation for an emergency including a power outage.
Technology and features
Like anything else, there are distinct differences in certain types of generators; what they can do, what they can’t do, etc. Knowing the difference is key so that you can get the type of generator that best suits your needs and keeps you prepared in the event of an extended blackout.
How they work
Since Michael Faraday had created the first transformer in August 1831, generators have dramatically evolved. Generators are essentially a big battery for appliances to siphon power from. They plug into the generator or through a central switch that then runs into the generator so that in the event of a power failure, the generator kicks in and provides power to those appliances.
With a battery backup, there is a limited usage and the more things that siphon power from it, the quicker it will die. With gas generators, you can theoretically keep it running as long as you can provide fuel to it, though this can be a bit costly in extended blackouts unless you come prepared.
There is a wide range as far as sizes and output capabilities. Given the cost disparities, you might want to stay away from going overkill unless you have the money to put into it. You also want to take weight and portability into account. Being able to move it from place to place is something you should keep in mind and if you get a bulkier model, this can be a difficult task to accomplish.
Each generator has its own functions and features that are worth taking into account. There are some that have an automatic start feature where, in the event of a power failure, it will notice the lack of power and kick on to compensate.
Gas generators will have a fuel gauge so you can be aware of when you need to add more fuel, keeping it going for as long as you need. There are automatic shutoffs, multiple outlet capability, removable consoles, and a whole list of other features.
When determining what features you are looking for, you want to take into account how often you will be using it and what you will be using it to power. The more need that you have, it might be beneficial to get more features to allow for greater accessibility and ease of use. If you don’t think you’ll be using it quite so often, going with something more simplistic might be the better call.
Types of generators
There are a few different types of generators that are worth looking into and it is important to know what the differences are so that you can make the right choice for your home or property.
Portable generators are the most commonly used generators for homes because of their ease of use as well as the fact that they are combustion engine-powered and run on gas or diesel fuel. This allows you to store the fuel ahead of time and bust it out when you need it.
Portable generators are generally not meant to power a ton of different things for a long time and you have to control the engine’s speed manually. You can wire it into subpanels, but that takes a bit of knowledge to do properly.
Still, it is helpful to keep things like freezers, refrigerators, and televisions running during a blackout which will keep you informed and keep your food from spoiling. Both are highly beneficial so long as the blackout is not extended more than a day or so.
These are you more heavy-duty options. Generally speaking, a standby generator is something that is used in a setting like a business or a hospital. They are created to automatically kick on in the event of an outage so that any kind of power loss is felt for a very short period of time.
Standby generators are great because they can power much greater systems, do so automatically, and can automatically prevent against further power loss. The obvious caveat is that they are not only much bigger and heavier, making for difficulty in moving them, but they are also far more costly than other types of generators.
If you don’t mind the cost, you can get a standby generator for your home so that you basically don’t lose any function in the event of a blackout, but that might be a bit of overkill. Really, it is up to you to decide what you might need for your home.
Portable Power stations
With the dependence that we have on technology these days, a power outage can cause substantial discomfort in this area. You might not want to splurge on a portable or standby generator, but want to leave yourself covered in the event of an outage.
That is where a portable power station would come into play. These are compact, small units that are equipped with a DC carport, AC outlet, and USB charging ports. They are outstanding for keeping your laptops, tablets, CPAPs, smartphones, and other mall appliances working even in the event of a blackout.
This can particularly important for keeping communication open during a blackout as you won’t have to worry about your phone dying. This is a handle little thing to keep in your home so that you are never totally knocked out due to a power outage.
An inverter generator uses an engine that is connected to an alternator in order to produce AC Power and can also convert AC power into DC power so that you can use it for things like laptop and car batteries.
What makes inverter generators so great is that they are highly portable. You can fit them in a car, boat or RV so that you can access it in a pinch to get you going once again. One of the worst things is being in a vehicle and the battery craps out and you find yourself stuck and waiting for help. Never again with an inverter generator.
The obvious downside is that inverter generators are pretty limited in what they can do and aren’t really meant for the constant generation of power like a portable or standby generator. You wouldn’t want to use one of these at home in the event of a blackout, so it is important to have one of the other generator types available to you. Otherwise, you will find yourself in a very unhappy situation.
How to choose the right generator
Choosing the right generator ultimately comes down to your necessities. If you have your own home, you want to keep your refrigerator up and running so as to not lose all the food within. This would require something like a portable generator.
It is also highly recommended that you have a portable power station in your possession. They are fairly cheap and can help to keep your smaller devices powered up so that you can keep lines of communication open or access things that are stored locally on those devices.
A standby generator is the very top of the line and is really only necessary if you deem it so. It’s not something bad to have, but the cost of acquiring one is likely what will leave you thinking twice.
Ultimately, you need to decide what you absolutely need during an outage and what you can live without. This will help you pick the generator that best fits your needs and keep you from getting something you might not want or need. Today you can find online all types of generators produced of different brands.