As hurricane season again approaches, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared. Having a good generator that will suit your family’s needs in the likely event of a power outage is a good start. By following a few suggestions, you can better determine which products will be best for your family’s situation.

Portable or Stationary?

The first thing you will have to decide is whether you want a portable generator or a stationary one. The stationary generator has to be professionally installed, but it will kick on automatically. In addition, newer models perform their own maintenance diagnostics and will alert you, when it’s in need of servicing. On the down side, you will have to prepare in advance to have one installed and be prepared to spend quite a bit on its installation.

Conversely, a portable generator takes fuel that you put into it, much like gassing up a car or lawn mower, and, when it’s needed, you will have to start it manually. Any device or appliance you want powered will have to be hooked up to the generator, as well. While these can be inconvenient factors, the portable generator does cost less and can be purchased in short time.

What’s to Know About Wattage

Another important concern in buying a generator for the home is in determining the wattage you’ll need to power everything. For items that use larger wattages, like heating systems and air conditioners, it’s best to consult with an electrician to get accurate information. It’s also recommended that you get a unit that will supply a little more than you need in the way of watts, just to be sure you’re covered.

If you opt for the portable generator, a transfer switch is a wise investment. Although it can cost several hundred dollars to have installed, a transfer switch makes it easier and safer to connect the generator to your home. It also helps protect utility workers who may be in the area trying to get the power up and running.

A generator with a capacity of 3,000-4,000 watts can deliver power to the essential appliances. One generator of this size will power a 600 watt refrigerator, 1,500 watt microwave, a sump pump that uses 600 watts, several lights collectively using 400 watts, and a television at 200 watts.

A generator of 5,000 to 8,500 watts can power more lights, as well as a computer at 250 watts, portable heater (1,300 watts), a second sump pump (600 watts), and a heating system (500 watts). Meanwhile, a 10,000 watt generator can power everything previously listed, as well as a small water heater (3,000 watts), a central air conditioner (5,000 watts), and an electric cooking range (5,000 watts). Going a step further, a 15,000 watt generator can also power a laundry washer (1,200 watts) with electric dryer (5,000 watts).

The generator you choose depends on your needs, but remember that you don’t know how long you will be without power. It may be better to go with a larger wattage to be safe in an emergency. As you know, hurricanes can cause power outages that can last from a few days to several weeks or longer, so choose the generator that will provide your family with their needs for a considerable length of time.