Whole-house standby generators give you the energy your home needs during a power outage. As a homeowner in central Florida, you'll probably need this equipment for peace of mind in hurricane season. Use this home generator guide to get all the answers about this essential appliance.
A Guide to Home Generators
What Size Generator Do You Need to Power Your House?
A generator's size refers to the output measured in watts. How much electricity it generates determines how many appliances you can have running at once. It's helpful to have a generator big enough to power the electrical items you don't want to lose when the power goes out. Think about which of these appliances you need to have available at all times:
- Medical equipment
- Security systems
- HVAC system
- Refrigerator/household appliances
You can figure out your appliances' wattage by checking the label or owner's manual. To determine the right size generator for your household's needs, add up the power output of each device you want to start and keep running simultaneously. A whole-house standby generator can supply enough power for all the electrical items in your home.
What Kind of Generator Do You Need to Power a House?
You'll need a home standby generator to power your property when you're home or away. This system typically runs on propane or natural gas. Once it detects a power outage, it automatically sends energy to the electrical circuit breaker box. After the power comes back on, the generator turns off until you need to use it again.
A standby generator adds value to your property in the following ways.
- Safety: Since a professional technician usually installs a standby generator, it tends to be safer than a portable one. An outside unit protects you and your loved ones from carbon monoxide poisoning instead of bringing toxic chemicals inside. Working with a professional also ensures that your installation and equipment follow all local safety regulations.
- Affordability: A standby generator runs on the home's propane or natural gas fuel supply. Even though the upfront cost is often more expensive than gasoline-powered units, you can save money on refills.
- Reliability: A home standby generator turns on when the power goes out, so you can have a reliable system during a storm. It can protect your house whether you're home or away, so you don't need to monitor it. It also runs a self-diagnosis to tell you when to fix it.
How Much Do Generators Cost?
A generator can cost a few hundred dollars up to more than $10,000. A professional electrical company can help you find the best generator to suit your budget and provide the power you need. These factors give you a general idea of how much you might expect to spend on your generator.
- Power supply: Your generator's power source plays a role in its cost. Gasoline is the least expensive because of its availability, but it might not be the best option for you, since it's challenging to store. You can find liquid propane generators at mid-range prices, but they don't last as long as natural gas. Natural gas may be the most expensive, but it's usually the most convenient and reliable option, especially during a storm, when you may have limited resources.
- Type: Most generators are either portable or permanently part of your home. Small, portable models may only cost a few hundred dollars, but they don't have the same capacity to power your whole living space. On the other hand, home standby generators can cost a few thousand dollars, but they provide all the energy you and your family need during an outage.
- Size: A generator's size refers to the amount of energy it produces. Usually, generously sized units with more wattage are more expensive than smaller ones.
- Installation: Even though some generators come in a DIY installation package, it's better to hire a professional to keep your property safe and ensure your generator runs at peak capacity. The price contractors charge for labor will depend on your city's average cost of living and your generator's size.
Can I Install a Generator Myself?
You can find a generator that comes packaged with all the wiring you need to install it yourself. However, even though you might want to save money on a DIY installation, it's safer to hire a licensed electrical contractor who understands national, local and state codes to install your generator. Professionals have the expertise to wire your generator correctly, so you can enjoy a reliable, energy-efficient unit for many years.
Consider these benefits of working with a professional.
- Budget-friendly options: Hiring a professional allows you to explore various options to help you save money over time. You might want to get the cheapest generator you can find, but the safety risks and shorter operating life could end up costing you more in the long run. An expert electrician can help you find solutions that work for your budget and help you power your appliances.
- Safer installation: Setting up a generator in your home can be complicated. Incorrect or incomplete installation can void your warranty and cost you more money if the parts break. A licensed, certified electrician understands all the details of your generator's electrical system so you can keep your property and your loved ones safe.
- Peace during hurricane season: As you prepare for hurricane season, you need to ensure you don't lose power. Having a professional correctly set up your generator gives you peace of mind during a storm.
What Size Generator Will Run Central Air?
Having a functional central air system is essential in the Florida heat. You need to know your central air conditioning unit's startup and running power to know which size generator to get. You can power your air conditioner alone or concurrently with all the appliances in your home.
Since you'll find your central air unit's capacity listed in BTUs on the label, you'll have to convert BTUs to watts. If you use your generator to power more appliances than your central air system, you need to add up the startup and running power capacities for all your devices.
What Size Generator Will Keep a Fridge Running?
You'll need to have your refrigerator or freezer running during a power outage to protect your food supply. Find out how much power your refrigerator or freezer uses by looking at the label. If you have an older appliance, keep in mind that it might use more energy than newer, energy-efficient ones of the same size.
Your fridge's startup and running power are in amps, so you'll need to convert that number to watts to get an accurate count. Make sure you get a generator that produces more watts than your refrigerator needs.
Contact Us for a Free Estimate Today
Dalton Electric is proud to be a certified Generac generator installer. We provide electrical services for residential and commercial properties in North Orlando, Volusia County and the Space Coast. Contact us online to schedule a free estimate.