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Chose the Right Generator for Backup Power



Last week I came home from work and saw the power company reconnecting electrical cables down the street.  Fortunately my electricity was restored within a short time.  For those occasions when you may be without electricity for an extended period of time, need power on a jobsite, or want convenience for recreational adventures, a generator may provide the solution to your power needs. 


Generators vary in price depending upon your needs and budget.  There are two (2) basic types of generators: portable and automatic standby (also known as whole house).   Portable generators are used for jobsite or recreational use; tools and appliances are directly plugged into an outlet.  Automatic standby generators power appliances, furnaces, and air conditioners that have been previously hardwired in the home and start automatically when the outage occurs. 


The first step to selecting a generator is to identify your power requirements.  The Wattage Worksheet below details how to calculate the running and starting watts of the commonly used tools and appliances.  Running (rated) watts are the continuous watts needed to keep appliances and tools running.  Starting watts are the additional watts needed to start the product (usually needed for the first few seconds during start-up and cycling). 


The worksheet below shows how to calculate the running and starting watts that are required to run various tools and appliances.  The starting and running watts can be found in the owner’s manual or refer to the chart below for approximate power requirements.  Your generator will need to produce more than the total number of running watts and starting watts for your power needs.  Calculate the power output you need and allow a cushion for additional smaller items. (This Wattage Worksheet is also available in the store in English and Spanish.)


Pictures March 28 392 use.jpg


Pictures March 28 394 use.jpg




Portable Generators


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Most portable generators run on unleaded gas and can be used for temporary purposes.  The unit can be transported: consider weight, dimensions, wheel type, and handle style to determine the ease of mobility.  Some models have extended run time features for overnight or full day usage without refueling.  After use, the generator is stored until it is needed again.



Automatic Standby (Whole House) Generators

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Whole house generators provide blackout protection by automatically supplying power within seconds of a utility outage.  When the power returns, the generator shuts itself off and awaits the next outage.  Automatic standby generators are permanently installed and operate on an existing fuel supply – usually natural gas or liquid propane gas.   A weekly self-test ensures that the unit is operating properly.  Automatic standby generators are professionally installed. 



These excellent Buying Guides provide for more information on generator selection, usage, and safety:



Portable generators are available in The Home Depot stores and online.  Automatic standby generators can be special ordered at The Home Depot stores and are also available online.  Contact your local Home Depot store for more information about installation of automatic standby generators. 





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Posted 2011-03-29T21:09:17+0000  by Eileen_HD_ATL Eileen_HD_ATL