Reliable Backup Power Supply
If you've lost power for any length of time due to severe weather such as a hurricane or other weather disruptions like an ice storm, you can understand the importance of backup power generation fueled by reliable natural gas. The increasing demands of home offices, security systems, food refrigeration, HVAC systems, water wells, etc., have moved backup power to the forefront of many homeowners' minds. Because the consequences of a power outage can be significant, natural gas standby generators have become more common in residential neighborhoods and surrounding businesses.
Benefits of Natural Gas Standby Generators
Convenience and peace of mind, as they are connected to your home or business' natural gas service, to provide you with whole-house or partial power within seconds of detecting an outage.
Reliability, as natural gas lines are buried underground, making them less susceptible to service interruptions. Most generators automatically test themselves to ensure peak performance when needed. Once your electricity has been restored, the generator will automatically shut down.
Make the Right Selection
Basically, there two types of emergency generators for residential use: portable or standby.
Portable generators fueled by gasoline are a frequent choice for homeowners because of their relatively low price. However, the downside of these generators is that they can generally only supply power to a few selected appliances through extension cords and only for short durations because their small gas tanks need to be refilled every few hours. Given the long-term interruption of gasoline supplies often caused by severe weather such as a hurricane, this can cause real problems in sustaining emergency power.
Customers looking for a longer-term solution that combines convenience with the ability to power their entire home during a power outage should consider a natural gas standby generator. This type of generator is permanently installed at the home and uses clean, reliable natural gas from the home's gas supply lines to provide power 24 hours a day, eliminating the refueling issue. When the power goes out, an automatic transfer switch quickly restores electricity to selected circuits or the whole house. When the power outage ends, the unit automatically restores the home to power from the utility grid and returns to standby mode.
Choose the Right Size
An average home's essential appliances will operate on an air-cooled standby generator with 7,000 - 13,000 watts of power (7kW -13kW). Higher wattage "comfort" appliances such as central air conditioners, pool pumps and dryers require a lot of electricity when they first start up, so that may influence the size (kW rating) and type of the generator (air-cooled or liquid-cooled) you need or how many appliances you will be able to power. Typically a 2,000 square foot home with 4 tons of air conditioning seeking whole house generation will need 16,000 – 20,000 watts of power (16 kW – 20kW). Also, living in a warmer climate can mean a larger air conditioner that will require more dedicated circuits to the generator.
Most appliances are rated for running wattage (the amount of electricity necessary to run the appliance) and surge wattage (the higher amount of electricity needed to start electric motors commonly found in household appliances such as central air conditioning or refrigerators). To tabulate your wattage requirements, check the appliances' user manuals or the data plate on the back of the appliance. For the most accurate assessment of your wattage requirements, consult a certified and professionally trained natural gas standby generator dealer, who can provide an accurate reading of what your needs will be based on the appliances and circuits you want routed to the generator during an outage.
How a Standby Generator Works
- The system automatically and continuously monitors incoming power from the utility line.
- When utility power is interrupted, the control system in the generator automatically senses the loss of power and signals the generator to start.
- The automatic transfer switch safely closes off the utility line and simultaneously opens a new power line from the generator..
- Your generator supplies electricity to your main distribution panel through an automatic transfer switch. You can elect to back up selected emergency circuits or your entire electrical service.
- When utility line voltage returns, the system transfers the electrical load back to the utility line. The generator continues to run for an engine cool-down period of several minutes, and the entire system stands ready for the next power outage.
- To ensure the system is always ready when you need it, your generator will automatically test itself on a scheduled basis.
How much does a Standby Generator cost?
The cost of a standby generator depends on several factors, including the basic equipment, installation, permit applications, and switch gear. A standby generator system for a typical 2,000 square foot home can cost between $8,000 and $12,000 (product + installation). Generally, the kW rating or electric operating capacity of the generator is the driver of price. The greater the electric generating capacity, the higher the cost of the generator.
To ensure the reliability and performance of your standby generator, use only qualified and professionally trained natural gas standby generator dealers for the installation. Also, be familiar with the safe operation of a portable or standby generator, including the following tips:
- Before starting your generator, carefully read and follow all of the manufacturer's instructions.
- Be sure that the total electric load on your generator will not exceed the manufacturer's rating.
- Install a generator transfer switch in accordance with NEC Article 702.6.
- Always locate your generator where its exhaust will vent safely.
- Exercise caution when refueling gasoline-powered generators. Let the generator cool down before adding additional fuel; spilled gasoline on a hot manifold can ignite into flame. Keep the generator in a well-ventilated area outside.
Where should I buy a generator?
While you can buy your generator from a do-it-yourself retailer or , online retailer, for a complete turnkey installation it's best to use a professionally trained natural gas standby generator dealer who can offer installation and service. Whichever method you choose, make sure it comes from a reputable store or dealer and comes with a comprehensive warranty.