Sunday, February 10, 2019

Generator For My New Home?

Does my new custom home need a backup generator?

This is a question that I get asked a lot when people are setting the budget for their new custom home build. Its a good question and one that isn't as simple as you would think.

What is a stand by back up generator?

A stand by generator is the type of generator that is connected to a gas supply (natural or propane), it's wired into a sub-panel in your new home and when the electricity fails in the home the generator automatically turns on and powers whatever is hooked up to the sub-panel. You as the homeowner do not have to do anything, you don't have to flip a switch, turn a dial or put fuel in anything. The entire point of the system is to start and stop by itself when there is a lack of electricity.

This means that the system works when you are not at home, it also means that you don't get to power your entire house. The system is designed to only power what you have put in the sub-panel.

What is a sub-panel? 

It is a smaller electrical panel that is placed near the main electrical panel. It has a smaller capacity and usually has less room in it for electrical breakers. The generator is sized to the amount of the load that you are going to draw. The load will depend on what you are actually trying to power, the more you want to power by the generator the larger the generator. 

Stand by generators are expensive.

That's right they are not cheap, they work well but they are not inexpensive. This is one of the reasons that you should way the benefits of having one compared to the cost of buying one. 

If you have things that are critical that require constant power then a generator like this will be a no brainer. Here are some of the systems that you might want constant uninterrupted power too;
  • Sump pump. If you have high water levels around your new home you will want your sump pump to always turn on especially in extreme weather that can knock out the power grid.
  • Freezers. If you have freezers with perishables in it and they can't lose power.
  • Work. If your job depends on you always having power to your devices or equipment.
  • Medical equipment. If you or someone in the home needs constant power to medical equipment for a life or death scenario.
  • You want power. In the modern work some people just can't survive without all the modern conveniences. Electricity is a must for quality of life.
  • Heating units. Depending on how cold the climate is where you live being without power could be dangerous.
  • Electric car. If the only vehicles you own are electric then being able to charge them off a generator might be essential.
There are some cons to having a stand by generator;
  • Cost of installation. They are expensive to have installed.
  • They use gas even when not needed. Every week they turn on for a while and run a test cycle burning fuel. They do this so that they will always work when the power actually does fail.
  • They require maintenance like any thing that has a motor.
  • They take up room on the side of your house. If you are tight to the lot lines then they could be in the way of you trying to get around the house.
  • Generators are limited in what they can power, there will always be things that will not be able to be wired into the generator. You will have to make sacrifices.
Whether you install a generator or not will depend on you making a list of needs and wants, you will have to decide if a generator is a need or a want. Then you can decide if it fits in your budget and the maintenance of it going forward.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

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