Disclaimer: This blog post was written during a recent power outage in Reno, Nevada, when our office lost its power connection for hours.
Our electrical experts and advisors managed to get through the task because a standby generator powered us. If your area is frequently affected by power outages, you need to invest in one too!
Here are a few essential things to consider.
A generator’s capacity is measured by the number of watts it produces. If you have a 10 kW generator, it can produce 10,000 watts of power. The generator’s required capacity depends on the number of devices that you want to power. Most portable generators carry a 2kW to 4kW capacity; however, for an ideal home in Nevada, a 20kW rating should suffice.
Before making the final decision, consider the number of appliances that you have. If you’re only concerned about a few lights, a couple of fans, and a refrigerator/freezer, aim for a smaller generator in between the 5–10kW range. However, if you also have water heaters, HVAC units, and furnaces, you’ll fall in the 20–22kW range.
Don’t resort to the internet to do your research about generator capacity. Ask your electrical contractor to guide you according to your home size.
This is particularly important for commercial and industrial users. If no one is available on-site to turn on the generator, we recommend investing in an Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS). The ATS signals the generator to kick in immediately, right after a power outage. After the power is restored, the ATS will prompt the generator to shut off automatically. If you don’t have an ATS, you need to employ someone to manually carry out both the tasks. This might not always be easy in the events of heavy rainfall, storms, or other natural disasters.
Transfer Switch vs. Sub-Panel
It would help if you also consider whether you need a transfer switch or sun-pane to install the generator. In many states, the law requires installing a transfer switch, especially if you’re connecting the generator directly to the wiring system. This switch prevents the generator from transmitting the current back into the power lines. This could be incredibly dangerous for the power company workers.
On the other hand, you need a sub-panel if you’re only connecting the generator to a specific portion of your home or power a few appliances.