Winter is one of the most likely times for a power outage to occur, and the possibility of losing heat during frigid weather makes it one of the most dangerous. Having a generator on hand can help keep your family warm and cozy while others are in the dark. Standby generators and traditional portable generators are both great options for getting through a winter power outage, and the fnal choice comes down to your needs and budget.
A standby generator is the most convenient and effective way to guard your home against a power outage. They can be pricey – systems start at around $5,000 – but a standby generator has the advantage of kicking in automatically when power is lost, even if you don’t happen to be home when it happens. Standby generators range from standard 17-kilowatt units, which can power essentials like lighting, heat and refrigeration, to 30kW models that can power your entire home.
Standby generators are usually permanently installed on a concrete pad or gravel bed next to your house, and are signaled by an electronic switch when an outage occurs. A standby generator is a wise choice if you live in an area that is prone to severe weather or frequent and prolonged power outages, if you work from home and need to stay connected, or if you rely on electrically-powered medical equipment.
If cost is a concern, a portable generator may be the way to go. Portable models are considerably less costly than standby generators, and the only significant downside is that you have to start it up yourself. Most models run on gas, cost somewhere between $500 and $2,000, and can produce 3 to 10 kilowatts of power: enough to run a heater, water pump, refrigerator and some lighting.
You can connect a portable generator to your house through extension cords or, at a slightly higher cost, have one professionally connected directly to your circuit breaker, which allows you to choose which circuits need electricity most when a power outage occurs. Portable generators produce heat and carbon monoxide fumes, so they need to be located in a properly-ventilated area to avoid the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.