Between 2008 and 2018, over 25.3 million Florida residents experienced a power outage. Whether due to hurricanes or passing storms, many homes in the Sunshine State were left in the dark.
With the hurricane season upon us, there’s no better time than now to buy a generator.
Of course, with so many types of generators out there, it’s tough to pick the right one. For instance, what’s the best generator for home use? We’ll cover everything you need to know about the different generator types and how you can find the right fit for your home.
What Are the Types of Generators Available?
Generators are backup power sources, and they can keep your home powered in the event of an outage. In places where hurricanes are a major concern, like Florida, they can provide you and your family with both comfort and convenience. Even if the power goes out, you can still use your electronics and appliances and keep the lights on.
When preparing for a storm and expecting a power outage, make sure to only use generators as instructed and never use them inside.
So, what are the different types of generators on the market? Let’s discuss each one.
Portable generators run on either gas or diesel fuel. They have limited power, probably enough to run your fridge, freezer, lights, and a TV. Unlike larger generators, they’re easy to move around.
Portable generators have an internal combustion engine, a starter, an alternator, outlets, and a fuel tank.
They’re popular on construction sites because of their size and because they’re ideal to power tools like drills and saws. The outlets in portable generators are great for extension cords or plugging in appliances, as well.
You can get a portable generator with a 12-volt outlet if you want to charge your smartphone or a similar device.
Standby generators are much larger than portable generators. They are arguably the best generator for home use because they’re automatic and can provide more power.
Whereas portable generators are a temporary solution with limited power options, a home standby generator is a permanent backup power source. A professional electrician will install your home standby generator on your lot.
While a portable generator is manual and requires refueling, home standby generators are automatic. They can power high-wattage appliances like your AC, stove, and more.
Whole-house standby generators, for a medium or larger home, range from 22-48kW. They can easily handle running your AC, fridge, lights, and more. A whole-house generator makes it feel like you never lost power at all.
Choosing the best home standby generator for your needs isn’t always straightforward. You need to consider the size of your home, your needs, and how many high-wattage appliances you have. However, once you have this information, a standby generator can provide the peace of mind you need when the power goes out.
Inverter generators are best for camping and outdoor activities. People like them because they’re quieter than some other types of generators, but they have limited power capability.
With an inverter generator, you can power lights, fans, and smartphones. These machines are lightweight, like portable generators. They use an alternator and convert AC power to DC power, which can then be stored.
They’re great for camping or tailgating, but have limited options in a power outage. However, if all you need is to power your phone or run a fan, they may be a viable option for you.
You can also group generators by the fuel type that they use. Gasoline is one of the most common types you’ll see, but it’s not your only option. When choosing a generator, make sure to consider the pros and cons of the fuel source.
When shopping for generators, you’re likely to see a huge selection of gasoline-powered options. That’s because gasoline is easy to access, and these types of generators are often the least expensive.
The downside is that during a power outage, you can’t always access gasoline because it requires electricity to pump, and gas stations can run out of gas. This fuel type is also flammable and only lasts about a year when stored.
Also, gasoline-powered generators do release a lot of emissions.
Diesel isn’t as flammable, and it’s still fairly easy to access. Diesel engines tend to last longer than gasoline-powered ones, meaning diesel generators may provide a better bang for your buck. Although diesel models cost more than gasoline generators, this type is still quite affordable.
Similar to gasoline, diesel fuel has a limited shelf life when stored. It only lasts for around 24 months. Like gasoline, you may not be able to access diesel at the pump during a power outage.
In some areas, the length of time you can run diesel generators is limited due to their high emissions. Other diesel options include biodiesel and emulsified diesel. These produce fewer emissions.
Make sure to regularly maintain your diesel generator for the best results.
Propane lasts longer in storage than diesel and gasoline. It’s also easy to access, and you can find it even during a power outage. Plus, this type of fuel burns cleaner and releases fewer emissions.
Propane generators are more expensive, but they’re also quieter and cleaner.
The downsides are that this type of generator may cost more to install, due to the gas lines. Propane is also highly flammable, and since they’re attached to their fuel tank, they’re not portable. Propane generators also aren’t as efficient, fuel-wise.
However, if you want to skip the long lines at the gas stations that are so common during power outages, you might want to consider propane.
Natural gas powers both portable and emergency generators. Some of the advantages of natural gas include the fact it burns cleanly and is often efficient.
This type of generator may also stink less since it doesn’t produce the strong odors associated with gasoline and diesel.
The downsides are that you may find yourself unable to access the fuel during an outage, and natural gas is extremely flammable and potentially explosive. This type of generator is also expensive.
As the hurricane season continues, it’s important that you prepare. Now is the best time to buy a generator and protect your home.
After learning more about the different types of generators, you can now make an informed decision.
You don’t have to weather the storm alone. If you have any questions or are ready to install your generator, contact us and we’ll send one of our licensed electricians to help.