With increased extreme weather – hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes (only five hit New England) this month) and extreme heat – more and more people are turning to generators to maintain electricity. Danielle Hames of The Escape Home talked to a generator expert, a realtor, and a homeowner about what you need to know before you buy one.
First things first, what is a generator?
According to Mike Krack, owner of Generator Expert Inc., the best way to describe a generator is a device that will produce electricity that is to be powered by some kind of engine, usually being fueled by natural gas or propane.
What type of fuel you use depends on what is available in your home. Diesel is also an option, but is usually avoided due to the high cost.
What kind should you get?
For residential use, there are two options: portable or standby, the latter being the more popular option.
A home standby generator is an automatic system, so it’s going to start and run automatically until the power is turned off and back on.
Portable generators are much less easy to use. You need to be there to turn them on. And because they run on gasoline, Krack said you need to be very cautious when using them.
“In addition, our gasoline today has a shelf life of about 30 days,” he said. “After 30-60 days our gas has started going bad. That’s why we usually suggest taking them off the gas.”
Why might you need one?
Weather aside, there can be many reasons to buy a generator.
“They want to protect their basements from flooding, they want to keep their homes warm in the winter, people move to Florida for six months, they want to make sure their home is safe while they’re gone, we have medical There are issues – people are on oxygen,” Crack said.
Inquiries from his company have also nearly doubled since the start of the pandemic, and have not given up.
“When Covid hit, there were a lot of things you couldn’t find in the grocery store, so people were worried about what was happening, and at least if they had electricity in their house they would feel a little bit more secure,” Crack he said.
Gail Mariner-Smith, a New York-based agent for Daniel Gail Sotheby’s International Realty, asks all her buyers to consider buying a generator.
“If you’re not there and your power goes out, your heat is turned off, your pipes can freeze and then burst and then you’ve lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. So that’s $15,000 of putting in the generator- 20,000 spent, even if it sounds like ‘do we really want to spend money on something so unnatural,’ it’s well worth the money spent,” she said.
What size should you get?
Home standby generators typically range from around 9,000 watts to 30,000 watts, according to Crack.
“What size generator you need does not depend on the size of your home,” he said. “I have a lot of people calling and saying ‘I have a 25,000 square foot house,’ but the important thing is what electrical appliances are in the house that will consume electricity.”
The larger ones are hot water heaters, dryers and depending on how you heat your home, furnaces.
Anusha Srivastava, who lives in Short Hills, New Jersey, bought her first generator two years ago.
“We were badly hit during this time” [Hurricane] Sandy, losing power for 14 days. Since my parents live with us now, we don’t want to risk it happening again.” “We got the genrac based on the reviews. We got the biggest one possible so that all the electronics in the house work because we often work from home.”
Where does it go?
There are codes that determine where the generator can be located on your property and while the constructor is generic code, local code is preferred.
“These generators are designed for the outdoors. We try to stay as close to the gas meter as we can, and within code,” said Crack. “In some homes the gas meter may be on one side of the house and the electricity on the other. It is easier and cheaper to run wire through a house than pipe. We have to stay a certain distance from any opening that allows exhaust fumes to enter the house, we have to stay five feet away.
What else do you need to know?
For the particular region of the country you live in, you’ll want to make sure you get any initial assistance that may be needed for cold weather, including battery heaters, oil heaters, and breathing heaters. All of these things will help keep your generator running in cold weather.
And then of course do your research. There are several brands of generators — Craik works with Cummins Onon, Generac and Kohler — and there are many places to buy them.
“The company you buy the generator from is important,” he said. “These generators are available from Lowe’s, Home Depot, you can probably buy them from Amazon, so remember when you buy that generator you need maintenance, unless you’re going to oil and spark plugs yourself. can change.”