Do your research and contact a licensed professional for assistance
Storms, wildfires, rolling blackouts, and more: California—along with the rest of our nation—has been seeing its share of emergencies lately, and homeowners are often left in a lurch when the electricity shuts down. But a backup generator, whether portable or permanent, may be just the thing to help keep your household humming.
Travelers Insurance offers 10 reasons why a backup generator may be a worthwhile investment:
- Weather—Most power outages are weather-related: As the number and severity of extreme weather events rises, so does the likelihood of a blackout lasting 24 hours or more.
- Well water—Without electricity, a home well pump and filtration system will quickly lose the ability to provide fresh, safe water for drinking, bathing, heating, and more.
- Sump pump—Sump pumps keep basements and crawlspaces dry, as well as all the possessions kept in these and related storage areas. Losing power means lost protection against water damage in those areas.
- Working from home—With a home-based business or office, every minute counts when the power’s out. Going without electricity for even an hour can be a major inconvenience, if not a major risk, to you, your clients, and your company.
- Food spoilage—According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, perishable food items should be thrown out once your refrigerator has been without power for as little as four hours.
- Severe climates—Some states are more vulnerable to weather-related outages, such as frequent hurricanes. Others have such severe temperature extremes that power to control air conditioning and heating systems can be essential for comfort and safety.
- Vacant property—If you are a frequent traveler or own a seasonal home, having a generator can protect your property from outage-related emergencies.
- Medical needs—Many home medical devices run on electricity and a power outage can be potentially deadly for those who depend on them.
- Hybrid or electric vehicles—Portable generators can not only be used for basic household emergency power needs, but also can be kept in a car to help it stay charged no matter where the road leads.
- Non-emergency uses—Portable home generators can be put to use at work or play in, around, and away from home, such as when you’re camping, when you’re using portable power tools, or if you’re holding a large outdoor party.
If any—or many—of these 10 reasons sound familiar, prepare now for the next outage by considering what might be best for you and your household with help from Consumer Reports:
- What type?—There are four common types of generators. Standby generators are installed permanently, can run on natural gas or propane, and kick on automatically during an outage. Portable and inverter generators can both be moved around and come in a variety of sizes. Portable power stations are large batteries that store electricity and are useful for apartment dwellers and others who can’t run a generator outdoors.
- What size?—One way to answer the question of which size generator you need is to add up the wattages of everything you want to power during an outage, which will give you a rough approximation. But before you bust out the calculator, keep in mind that some appliances—air conditioners, refrigerators, and sump pumps, for instance—draw a lot more wattage in the moment when they’re cycling on. These surge watts can throw off your calculations if you don’t account for them.
- What features?—Look for features such as automatic carbon-monoxide shutoffs and low carbon-monoxide engines, electric starters, fuel gauges, multiple outlets, and more to meet your needs safely and dependably.
Still have questions? Contact an electrical contractor licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Contractors State License Board who can help you with information about generators as well as with their installation, maintenance, and safety. To check a professional’s license, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov.