- Types of backup generators
- What size of a generator do you need?
- Introducing the battery backup generator
In today's unpredictable world, having a reliable backup power source at home is more important than ever. From icy snowstorms that knock out power for days to summer blackouts during heatwaves, power outages are an inevitable part of living in many areas. But they don't have to spell disaster for your home and family.
A high-quality home backup generator allows you to keep the essentials running no matter what Mother Nature throws your way. You can stay warm with the heater, keep the fridge cold to avoid food loss, and power devices to stay connected and informed. During an emergency, a generator is crucial peace of mind, letting you weather the storm in comfort while your neighbors huddle in the cold and dark.
More and more homeowners are making the smart decision to invest in a backup generator. But with different types and sizes, choosing the right one for your needs can be daunting. That's where this ultimate guide comes in.
Types of backup generators
Home backup generators come in three main types: portable, standby and permanently installed.
Portable generators are the most affordable option, starting around $300-$500. They're lightweight, easy to wheel around and can run extension cords into your home. But portables require more manual intervention - you have to recharge them regularly during an outage. They're best for occasional use at cabin or RV.
Standby generators are mounted outside your home and automatically kick on when the power goes out. Models start at $1,500, though whole-house versions can cost $10,000+. Standbys provide consistent power but require professional installation and transfer switches. They tend to last longer with less maintenance hassle.
Permanent generators are hardwired directly into your home's electrical system. While the most expensive, they provide seamless, automatic backup power and the longest life. Only a pro can install a built-in generator.
Both standby and permanent units run on natural gas or liquid propane for the cleanest, most dependable fuel source. Propane requires filling the tank periodically.
To choose the right type for your needs, consider:
- Installation - do you want to DIY or hire a pro?
- Maintenance - how hands-on do you want to be?
- Reliability - will you rely heavily on the backup power?
- Cost- how much can you comfortably invest?
Portables offer low-cost convenience but require more effort. Standby and built-in units provide the most reliable, seamless backup power with the least hassle - but cost more upfront. Ultimately, the generator that best suits how you envision using backup power is the right choice.
What size of a generator do you need?
The size of generator you need depends on how much total power your home requires during an outage. An undersized generator won't power everything you want to run, while an oversized one costs more and wastes energy.
To determine the proper size:
Make a list of all appliances and electronics you want the generator to power. Include essentials like fridge, HVAC, well pump, sump pump, chargers, TVs, etc.
Look up each item's wattage and add them up for your total home power needs in Watts. Divide this number by 1,000 to get Kilowatts (kW).
Add 15-20% extra capacity as a safety margin. This will account for power surges when appliances first turn on.
For most single-family homes, 500-1,000 Watts will run the basics like lights, fridge, essential outlets and maybe an HVAC unit.
A 5000Watt (5kW) generator is a sweet spot that covers the needs of many mid-size homes yet remains portable. Move up to 10-15 kW if you want to run multiple higher voltage items like well pump, AC and more lights/outlets simultaneously.
Generators are labeled by their "starting" or "running" Watts. Prioritize "running" Watts, as that reflects the actual continuous power available.
Introducing the battery backup generator
Battery backup generators are a new option for homeowners seeking backup power that is virtually noiseless, emission-free and install-free. Instead of gasoline or propane, they run on rechargeable LFP batteries similar to those in cars and electronics.
The batteries are charged continuously from your home's solar panels or standard grid electricity. During an outage, the batteries instantly provide emergency power to your home for several hours or more. Some can provide backup power for 1-4 days on a full charge.
Battery generators offer a number of benefits:
- Silent operation - they make zero noise while running
- Simple, wireless installation - no transfer switch or venting needed
- Lower cost of ownership - no fuel to buy and maintain
- Eco-friendly - no gas or exhaust fumes
- Ready instantly - no cranking or waiting for them to start up
On the downside, battery generators still carry a higher upfront cost compared to standard generators.
For homeowners seeking the easiest, cleanest backup power option, a battery generator offers a compelling solution. While the upfront investment is higher, the virtually maintenance-free operation, silent performance and wireless "set it and forget it" installation appeal to many.
For those who can invest in the latest battery technology, a battery backup generator provides a premium option for seamless, emission-free emergency power.
The perfect generator is the one aligned with how you truly envision using backup power at your home - whether occasionally during storms, or on a more everyday basis. With the array of options today, there's a solution for virtually any home and budget.