BOOM. Thunder shakes your home. The lights flicker and then go out, plunging you into darkness. Your kids come screaming into the room as more thunder crashes outside. Blackouts, like the one described, are not an infrequent occurrence across the nation. Because of this, having a backup generator is a good idea since it will give you peace of mind and comfort. Here are a few things you should know about them.

They Keep the Essentials On

What does a backup generator do? A backup generator powers your essential household things, such as lights and appliances, in the event of a blackout. The more power you need, the bigger your generator will need to be. Without the main power, your fridge won’t stay cold and your food may spoil. A backup generator will kick in when the power goes off making sure that things that need to always stay on do.

Get Through Blackouts in Comfort

Generators can help you get through blackouts safely and in comfort. When the power goes out, the generator will automatically turn on and leave you with power. You can decide how big of a generator you want and whether you want one that will power the entire house or just the essentials. If it powers the entire house, all systems will still have power during the blackout. This means you can use your appliances, electronics, the lights, and your heating/cooling systems. If you have medication that needs to be refrigerated, or need life support equipment that runs on electricity, having a backup generator will help you get through a blackout in comfort because everything will still be functioning normally.

The Cost of a Generator

Generators can get relatively pricey. The bigger the generator (and depending on the fuel it’s run on) the more expensive the generator. They can range anywhere from $400 to $15,000. There are also installation fees (which can be upwards of $1000, depending on the size and where the power and gas lines are in relation to the power generator) and maintenance fees. While it is an investment to get a backup generator, it is an investment that will be well worth it.

Types of Generators

There are many kinds of backup generators. There are portable generators, which are small and used in remote areas. They are typically run on natural gas or diesel fuel and have minimal power (enough to power a television, freezer, and refrigerator). There are inverter generators, which are light and small, fitting into a car or a boat, and are much more high tech. The inverter generators, while also running on gas, monitor the amount of power that’s needed, which makes them more energy efficient. There are also standby generators, which are larger and hook directly into the power supply. These generators automatically turn on when the power goes out (as they are activated by an automatic switch) and run on propane or natural gas.  There are several benefits to keeping propane tanks on your property, one of which being that it can power your generator.

History of the Generator

The modern-day generator has its roots in the invention of Michael Faraday. Back in the 1800s, Faraday created the Faraday disc, which was the first electromagnetic generator. His work was picked up by later scientists, and with the discovery of electricity, generators came into being. The first home generator was first used back in 1936, which wasn’t as powerful as current generators, but still functioned the same way. From the work of Faraday till now, generators have continued to provide comfort and convenience, where one can have power anytime and anywhere.

How a Generator Works

How does the backup generator work? A standby generator comes with an automatic transfer switch that hooks up to your main power supply. When the main power supply is switched off from the utility (the power company) the backup generator switches on automatically, providing your home with power. When the power is restored, it will switch off after a few minutes, providing a seamless stream of energy for your home without you having to turn it off. The generator is always monitoring electrical usage so that the generator can automatically turn on when it needs to.

How Long They Will Last

Generators can last a long time, which is why a purchase of one is usually an investment. Even the small portable generators last from 2000–3000 hours. A big standby generator can last 10,000–30,000 hours. Considering the fact that you will likely only need it for maybe 50 hours a year (depending on where you live) you will have many years of energy available from your generator to power your home. But generators can deteriorate overtime, which is why it’s important to maintain your generator so that it can last that long.

Maintenance of Your Generator

Maintaining your generator is like maintaining your car or other home fixture—regular maintenance will help it function better and function longer. In order to maintain your generator, it is important for you to read the owner’s manual so that you know how your generator is supposed to function and how it should be maintained because every generator is different.

To maintain your generator, you should conduct at least a monthly inspection of your generator, making sure that it’s clear of debris and that the parts are not broken. You should get the oil changed and change the filters. You should also get a bi-annual professional checkup of your generator just to make sure that it works and that there are no damaged connections to the power lines. Regular maintenance of your generator is essential so that your generator stays in good condition to keep providing you and your family power.

Having a generator will give you peace of mind because you know that you and your family will have power no matter the weather. It may be a bit of an investment to purchase one, but that investment is worth it as the generator will last a very long time if you take care of it.

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