With an ice storm knocking out power to much of the east coast last week, many are vowing not to get caught without a backup power source to keep the lights on and the heat running. Whole house generators are the ideal solution to the problem of a power outage because they keep all of your appliances running, not just select ones. If you’re considering purchasing a whole house generator for your home, here’s what you need to know about researching and installing a whole house generator.
Buying a Whole House Generator
Before you buy a whole house generator, you have to determine the output you’ll need for your home. By adding up the kW usage of all appliances and HVAC systems in the house you can figure out the size of the generator you’ll need. Mid-sized generators between 12-20 kW may be enough for a small home, but generally you’re looking at anywhere from 22-45 kW.
Once you figure out the size of the whole house generator you’ll need, it’s time to make a choice. Do you install yourself, or enlist the services of a contractor. Unless you’re well-versed in home electricity, your best bet is probably to go with a contractor.
Next comes installation. A site will need to be prepared outdoors near the meter and power panel. There the contractor will install a concrete pad for the generator. You’ll also need to contact the utility company to install a propane or diesel fuel tank to power the generator. “A new subpanel must be installed near the original electrical panel and an automatic transfer switch should be included as well.” This switch will automatically activate the generator when the power goes out. The electrical contractor will then install wiring and lighting to code which will power appliances from the generator. Some appliances need to be disconnected when the generator kicks in because the generator provides fluctuating energy levels; the contractor will inform of these as well. Installation of wiring may be based on the square footage of your home, or on the number of appliances you are connecting.
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