Having a generator is not only a great blessing on a cold windy snowy day when the power is out throughout the state, but it can also be a life saving device for those persons needing electricity for medical reasons, such as those on oxygen, dialysis machines, etc. A good generator will help keep you 'out of the dark'.
When choosing a generator, be sure to consult your electrician regarding these key areas:
How many Kilowatts (KW) are needed to sustain the amount of conveniences I want to keep running in my home in the event of a power outage? Most people want heat, running water, and their refrigerator to work, plus any medical needs. Also, what is the surge power rated at? (A well pump needs a certain amperage to run, but also has an additional surge amperage needed to start the pump)
What do I need to hook up my generator to my home? It may be an electrical box hook up, or an automatic panel, or other device - see your electrician for this.
Be sure that the generator is isolated from the power coming into the home. If the utility company is working on the lines, you don't want to be sending power through them, endangering their lives or safety.
Be sure the generator is placed outside/ in a well ventilated area, so the fumes from the engine do not enter the house (carbon monoxide is a real threat; a totally odorless killer).
Is this a gas guzzler? Auto-idle will help minimize my fuel usage.
How loud is the muffler? Is this a better quieter exhaust, or just a cheap exhaust on a cheaper machine? (Bigger is usually better, as they quench the most irritating higher frequencies.)
Can I buy parts for this machine (and engine!) or is it just a knockoff ?
Get additional advice from your electrician to help determine the generator size, and also get the correct hookup that best suits you.
See Generac's safety guide.
When used properly, a generator is a luxury that is priceless when your electricity is out for days (in some areas, weeks!) at a time. Even a few hours of no electricity in sub-zero temps will make a believer out of you!
Generator features to look for
- Auto idle, for fuel savings
- 7+ hour runtime
- Hour meter, for maintenance
- Low oil shutoff, for your engine
- Electric start, for your back
- Large QUIET exhaust, for your neighbors
A Final Word
Buying a generator is like buying insurance, or anything else that 'protects' you in times of trouble. When you need it, it's there. It would sure be great if you never needed it! However, be sure to...
- Buy a dependable product, from a respectable dealer.
- Have your machine serviced regularly (in the Fall usually)
- Use a fuel stabilizer to keep the fuel when the machine is not in use for weeks at a time.
- Start the machine monthly to ensure it's functionality. (For generators, it ensures the 'permanent magnets' stay just that!)
- If you are reasonably sure you will not be using the generator for 8 months or longer, you may want to drain ALL the fuel out of the tank, and let the engine run out of fuel while running with no load.
- Have extra spark plugs on hand at all times.
- Treat it well, and don't push the machine's limits.