Everyone has things in their homes that need power and can cause a lot of worry if the power were to go out for an extended period of time or even just a few minutes. A fridge or freezer filled with food that your family needs, lights during the night, or even more important medical equipment could all be things that would be better if you didn’t have to worry about the power going out.
Living in northern California, PG&E is our local utility company. With their recent power outages across the Bay Area, sometimes on short notice, has made a lot of people consider a backup home generator. After your new generator is installed, worrying about a power outage will be a lot less of an interruption in your life. You can rest assured that your home will have power.
A home backup generator could be the solution you are looking for. Just as most things in your home, there is not a one size fits all solution for a backup power system for your home. Gentec Services will take the time to walk you through all of the options and come up with a solution that fits your needs and home in the Bay Area. Find out more about the specifics of a backup generator system for your house below.
A backup home generator takes mechanical energy and converts it into electrical energy. A generator takes energy from a fuel source and uses the principle of electromagnetic induction that was discovered by Michael Faraday in 1831 to turn it into electrical energy. Modern generators are more efficient than ever and can create an electrical output that can power your home.
Your backup generator will be connected to your home through an electrical panel box similar to the breaker boxes you currently have in your home. When the power goes out, a standby home generator turns on automatically in a few seconds and keeps the power on at your house. These generators can vary in size and fuel source but they are installed on the outside of your house and switch on when they detect a power outage. Backup generators can vary in size from portable to large.
These backup standby systems are not as easy as just plugging a generator into your home and now you have backup power. There are other equipment options that can change the type of system you have. The main difference during the install is to have a manual switch or an automatic switch. The switch for a backup generator is one of the main reasons you want a professional to install your backup power generator system.
It is extremely dangerous to attempt to do this on your own without experience and training. The transfer switch manages the maximum voltage needed for your entire house and the source of that power. When the city power goes out, the switch is what prevents the city power for coming into the house at the same time as the generator. This can’t be understated, it is important to make sure your new generator is installed properly to keep your home appliances working properly and the new generator to last a long time.
Automatic Switch – When your power outage occurs, the power source to you Bay Area home needs to switch from city power to generator power. In order for this to happen, there may need to be an energy management system installed that controls what is powered on and at what time.
For example, tt is important to make sure your Air Conditioner doesn’t turn on before the generator has had some time to get up and running to full capacity. If they were to turn on at the same time, it could stall the generator and turn it off. The automatic transfer switch manages the power to your home and when appliances can turn on and use the new power source. The automatic power switch also switches from the generator to city power when the utility turns the power back on in the Bay Area.
Manual Switch – When an electrcian from Gentec meets with you to talk about a home backup generator system, one of the pieces of equipment you will need to add is a transfer switch. A manual transfer switch is the device that manages the power source to your house.
A manual switch lends itself to be less expensive than the automatic switch but it does take some input to get the generator up and running. In the event of a power outage in the Bay Area, you would need to flip the switch from city power to generator power. Both of these switch options are questions that you will have to consider and getting the right switch can be as crucial as getting the right sized generator.
Now that you have decided what type of switch you are most interested in, the fuel source is important. Some of this will come down to the size of the generator you decide to go with, but keep in mind most standby backup generators run on natural gas or liquid propane. With a professional home backup installation, the right fuel source will be determined for your home.
Generators always need a fuel source, the most common fuel source for a backup home generator is natural gas. Even though natural gas is managed by PG&E, it is delivered to your home underground and is still being delivered to your home during a power outage. Because of the reliability of natural gas, it is a great backup fuel source to power your Bay Area home. This will be the preferred fuel source for a whole home backup generator. If natural gas is not available, an external fuel source of liquid propane or gas may be available. Your new generator will have a fuel source connected directly to the generator and if it is natural gas, there is nothing to refill as it is delivered to your Bay Area home consistantly.
Home backup generators can range from 7.5kW to 150kW! What size generator you need is going to be specific for your home and needs. The kilowatt size can vary for a standby generator for your Bay Area home. Find an easy to use home generator size calculator here. Generators can be portable to stationary. A typical Bay Area backup generator is going to be about the size of an air conditioner on the side of your home. The kilowat rating of a generator is going to tell you how many appliances you can power, more information on that can be found below.
The placement of the generator needs to be considered for set-backs on a property line or even HOA covenants for your home. The set-back is important for your home to ensure proper permits can be approved in your city. The backup generator is placed outside for ventilation and then feeds the electricity into your house from the outside. A backup generator in the Bay Area is not something that can be hidden easily and an HOA may have rules against changes to the look of your house. Generators are about as loud as an Air Conditioner running but a neighbor may be worried about what type of noise a new outdoor appliance is going to make next to their home. It is important to be well educated on this process from a professional. Gentec Services has years of electrical experience to answer any and all questions about the right switch and generator for your home. This is not a job any DIYer can do. Call the professionals today.
A generator system could range anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000. A standby generator for your home is not a simple system to add to your home. A quote from Gentec Services offers a custom solution for your home and needs. This new power backup system for your home can become an added level of security for your home. Backup home generators can keep your most important appliances up and running from computers, fridges, and necessary medical devices. The price varies drastically on what equipment you will need for your desired backup generator system for your Bay Area home. There are a lot of things to consider before having a generator installed, but one thing to keep in mind is the increased value of your home. As the Bay Area continues to deal with PG&E cutting power on short notice, the value of a backup generator will increase to potential buyers.
Each appliance in your home comes with a wattage rating and usage tag, it is important to make a list of all of your appliances and the watts each consumes. As you calculate the total wattage needed to power your home you can start to get an idea of the size of the generator you need as a home standby backup. Here is a quick reference on wattage estimates for a 5,500 watt generator. A fridge freezer may operate at 700 W but has a starting watt rating of 2,200 W. Your laptop uses somewhere around 300 W but has no starting watts. A 10,000 BTU window AC unit may have a 1,200 W running rating but 3,600 starting watts. When you are calculating the size of your generator you need to add up all the running watts and then add the starting watts to the total. This will get you the total watt generator needed. Keep in mind it is possible to select only specific appliances you will want to have on backup power to possibly keep your home from needing to size up on the generator.
The size of the generator you need is directly related to the appliances you want to keep power running to. If you just needed a fridge to have power, the size of the generator would be much smaller. If you are looking at your appliances and not seeing watts, here are some formulas to help you get the numbers to be comparable.
Watts (W or kW) = Volts (V) x Amps (A) | Amps (A) = Watts (W or kW) / Volts (V)
If you are reading this in your Bay Area home and want a professional to come do an assessment on the size generator you need, call Gentec Services for an estimate.
Portable generators are the ones you have seen on a construction site, camping in an RV, or at a tailgate. Most portable generators range from 2200W to 8000W. If you want to have standby backup power for your entire house, you are going to need almost double the largest size to power most homes completely. In the Bay Area, you may be able to get by without having to have your HVAC systems running when the power goes out, but it is best to have that discussion with a professional electrician after a consultation to figure out what your actual wattage requirements will be.
Home standby generators will turn on and test themselves once a week for a few minutes to make sure everything is working properly. With proper maintenance, a backup generator could last up to 30 years. It is important to know that regular service for your generator will ensure that it works every time it is needed. When you decide to get a generator installed, the location will be decided but it is important to know that it needs to be about the same distance from your home as your air conditioner is. Your new generator should look like another HVAC equipment on the side of your home but will have locks to prevent anyone from being able to get to some controls on the generator.