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Ten Reasons Every Home Needs a Back-up Generator

back-up generatorAmericans use a lot of electricity. Last year in fact the total was almost four trillion kwh. That is more than 16 times greater than the electricity used in 1950. This is why a back-up generator  is becoming an important option for the modern home. 

Over the last seventy years electricity has moved from being a novel and interesting source of light, to an essential and often life supporting part of modern life. Americans are more reliant now on electricity than ever for their health, heating, cooling, refrigeration and for appliances, computers, electronics, tools, and even cars and public transportation systems.

When the power grid goes away, we are in trouble. This is why every home needs a back-up source of power. 

The ten most important reasons you should have a back-up generator:

  1. Life support: breathing machines, C-pap’s, powered wheelchairs, home dialysis and other medical devices need power either directly or through batteries that must be recharged.
  2. Water: Homes that rely on wells use electric pumps to extract and distribute water to the home.
  3. Food preservation and cooking: Without power the refrigerators and freezers in your home can only keep food from spoiling for a couple of days. If you only have an electric cooktop you will definitely want a generator or some alternative way to cook. Perhaps a propane or gas camp stove would help.
  4. Drainage: Sump pumps require electricity to move water out of low-lying areas to prevent flooding. These are especially important during heavy storms when the power is most likely to be disrupted.
  5. Sewer systems: Basement sewage ejector pumps, or septic system elevator pumps will stop working in a power outage.
  6. Communications: Your power may be out, but your phone may still work if the cell tower is on. Use a generator to keep your phone charged and internet modem working.
  7. Hot water: Gas and electric water heaters need power for circulation.
  8. Security: Security cameras and alarm systems need power.
  9. Heating systems: Most high-efficiency furnaces have electronic exhaust and fan blowers as well as igniters.
  10. Spa: During a power failure with below freezing temperatures, an electrically heated outdoor spa will actually stay warm for about three days. After that, it will quickly cool and begin to freeze around the 7th day. A generator can help keep the spa from freezing and bursting pipes.

If you own a home, you need a back-up generator! So get one, and install and use it safely. Your life may depend on it. Here’s how to select the appropriate generator for your needs.


Selecting a Generator For Your Home

Selecting a good generator for your home can be a lifesaver! If you’ve ever experienced a prolonged power outage, especially during extreme weather then you understand how dependent modern life has become on the electrical grid. When the power is gone, many things you took for granted are no longer there. And this usually happens during the harshest weather conditions. Darkness and extreme temperatures can make every minute without power uncomfortable and can actually endanger children and the elderly. Add in shock, spoiled food and lost communication, and an inconvenience can suddenly spiral into a disaster.

You may not be able to prevent the natural disasters that can take down the power grid, but help is available. It’s called an emergency generator. These are proven and practical appliances that produce back-up electricity, making your home livable until your power grid can be restored. The process of selecting and installing a generator can take time so you need to get started now.

If you think you can just go into your local hardware store when your area is already in the grips of a major power outage, you are already in trouble. You may not be able to get to an open hardware store and if you did you would find the generator isle well picked-over by the time you got there

The time to act is now, Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late! Emergency generators are for disasters, so plan to get one before the next power outage happens. Here’s how:

Determine your needs

Make a list of what appliances you cannot live without during a power outage. Which appliances and devices you’ll want to use is entirely up to you. Your list might include medical devices, refrigerators, certain lights, a source of heat, etc. Most homeowners will certainly prioritize their refrigerator to avoid food spoilage. If you are tough and resilient, you might only need a few hundred more watts to power some lights and chargers for electronics.

If you have a larger budget, there are generator systems that can keep your whole home running without skipping a beat.

See my post on why you need a generator for a good list of items you might need.

Once you have your list completed, you will need to determine your wattage requirements. Electrical loads are measured in watts. Each appliance uses a certain wattage, so as you compile your list of essential appliances, you’ll need to note the wattage of each. Some appliances will list a normal use and surge use wattage. Use the surge numbers to avoid overloading your generator. Owner’s manuals are great sources for this information. If you don’t have the manuals, you can make an estimate, by using the Department of Energy’s appliance energy calculator.

If you want a more accurate count, hire an electrician to conduct load measurements of every appliance on your list. You will certainly want to do this if you are considering a whole-house, back-up generator system. For smaller generators this is unnecessary since we will add in a fudge factor at the end to make sure your needs are fully met. You do not want to run short of power during a disaster.

Generator types:

When selecting a generator, they can be categorized in two basic types, Portable and Stand-by.

Selecting a generatorPortable generators:

The first and most common type is the portable generator. Portable generators tend to be smaller, lighter and more easily portable so that they can be delivered and operated wherever needed. Since they are portable, they must be manually connected to your electrical system when there is a power outage. You may need to have heavy-duty extension cords ready as portable generators must remain at least twenty feet away from your structure. A special connection or transfer switch may also need to be installed by an electrician in order for you to quickly connect the generator to any built-in appliances during. Portable generators normally run on gasoline or diesel so you will need to safely store enough fresh fuel (and some oil just in case) on hand to get you through the emergency.

Portable inverters:

There is a second choice available in portable generators called inverters. Inverters are much lighter and quieter than portable generators and they use the same fuel sources. Inverters are quite popular as portable power units and are often used for camping or RVing as well as for emergencies. The most powerful inverter generators only produce around 6,000 watts which is much less than the largest portable generators although they can be daisy chained together to satisfy higher wattage if needed. If you like a quieter and more versatile power unit an inverter may be worth the slightly higher cost. I personally have two Honda 2200 units for our RV that I have used several times for emergency.

Stand by:

Selecting a generatorStandby generators are the big boys. These are large heavy-duty systems that are permanently wired to your electrical panel. During a power outage these units automatically kick in and begin providing electricity. They can be designed large enough to handle an entire structure or just a few important circuits. The key function of the standby system is it is automatic. Therefore, a standby system will need to be professionally designed and installed. In addition, a fuel source must be considered that can be relied upon during the forecasted length of an emergency. Natural gas and propane are the most common fuel sources chosen for standby generators because these fuels have longer shelf lives compared to gasoline or diesel.

Extension cord safety

If you opt to use extension cords, it is important that you read information about proper cord safety. Also read the generator manual carefully to determine the exact length, gauge and plug type you’ll need for each cord. Because your generator must be at least 20 feet from your home, these cords will be very long. Major appliances like refrigerators will require special cables. There are functional and safety considerations to take into account when using extension cords. It’s a good idea to include their costs before making a final purchase decision.

Once you have set up your perfect emergency generator, you should practice using it and make a detailed plan of action for an actual emergency. This way you will know exactly what to do when an emergency arises. Remember, during a disaster you may be in shock or perhaps distracted or otherwise not thinking at your best. A good place to start is by following the advice in your owner’s manual.

Other important considerations

Some other important considerations to make when selecting a generator include the place you will store the equipment, and where to set up the portable generator for operation. Also, how and where to ground the generator, how you’ll protect the generator from the elements and where you can safely store your fuel reserves.

Most importantly, generators will require periodic maintenance. The most sophisticated standby generators make this easy by conducting automatic test runs. These tests perform diagnostics and will even send you text messages when service is required. Portable generator systems require you remember and perform a maintenance schedule. Whatever maintenance is called for, DO IT! There is nothing more useless than an emergency piece of equipment that does not work during the emergency. See safe generator operating rules.

See Part 1 in this series: 10 Reasons Every Home Needs a Back-up Generator


Homeowners, are you ready for a disaster… at work?


Homeowners should prepare for disasters at work
A door survives a fire

Most homeowners have had many reminders lately to be prepared for an unexpected disaster. Frequent wildfires, floods, mudslides and power outages are present enough in most of our lives to drive the message home to “be prepared” at home. We have published several articles in the past relating to both individual and family disaster preparation

Being prepared at home is great for the twelve hours a day or so that you are there. But what happens if the disaster strikes when you are at work? Do you know what to do?

Most large corporations have detailed plans in place for employees to follow if an emergency might occur during the work hours. But what if you are self-employed or work in a small office with fifty or fewer employees?

Get started

If you are an individual working in a small environment such as this, you need to bring the need for an emergency/disaster plan to the attention of the manager. It could be a matter of life or death.

Preparing for disasters at work
Disaster recovery in Paradise CA

Here is how to start creating a plan:

Meet with your staff and co-workers as soon as possible. Make them aware of the need. Put someone in charge and set a date for starting and completing the disaster plan.

The plan should include:

  • Research likely disaster risks: Fire, flood, earthquake, tsunami etc. and plan for most likely events
  • Physical preparations to harden the work space: securing furniture, providing for emergency food and water rations, first-aid material, back-up power, blankets, lights, gas shut-off location etc.
  • Determine taking cover, sheltering in place, meeting-up and safe refuge areas
  • Prepare a communication plan: Make an updated roster with contacts, learn how to get news, what to do if phones and internet are out
  • Map out an evacuation plan
  • Design a survival in place plan
  • Create and post an emergency checklist to follow
  • Notification plan to all employees and families
  • Conduct regular drills

Make it a priority to follow through and get the plan up and running.

If you need help, there are great resources available at: https://www.homepreservationmanual.com/emergency/

Or

Use the Fema guidelines at: https://www.fema.gov/disaster/4085/updates/developing-emergency-plan-workplace 

 

Help me to help you

Congratulations on taking time to use this free website. I truly hope you find the information here fun and useful? Please send me your comments and feedback. Writing and maintaining this site is a lot of hard work. By sharing these pages with your friends, you help me to continue the effort.  You can easily share these pages to all your favorite social media sites via the shortcut buttons on the sidebar. You can also simply email the page link to your friends. Please share often.

The very best way to help me occurs when you use the embedded links to buy things. Using a link is easy and free, yet it provides a great source of support for this site. The vendors I’ve chosen to link to have proven to be the very best resources available so that is why I recommend them personally.

This is the place to visit if you want information on your home: How to improve air quality; ways to improve the value of your home; what are the best cleaning services; do you really need handyman services; how to plan and execute home renovation and home improvement projects; ways to hire a handyman; what to do during spring cleaning; ways to go about tidying up a messy house; and generally how to be a better homeowner.

If you have questions or just want to say hi, please send me a note.

Thanks again!

Steve

Make a personal preventive safety kit

personal home preventive safety kit
Personal safety kit

Good homeownership requires physical effort. Efforts sometime lead to injuries. Whether you do the tasks yourself, or hire outsiders, you need to have some preventive safety and first aid products close at hand to support those efforts.

There are lots of disaster preparation, survival products and First Aid Kits offered out there, but first aid is for after an accident happens. A good homeowner can do better than that. Let’s think preventively, just like we are learning to do when it comes to maintaining our home. So instead of a First Aid Kit, let’s create a Preventive Safety Kit.

Below is a list of items that are known to work well in helping to prevent most accidents and injuries. Plus, just in case, I’ve included the makings of a well stocked first aid kit too.  Assemble several of each of these parts and store them in the waterproof rolling box listed below. Know what is in the box and keep it handy. Do not store it away somewhere and forget about it. Instead regularly use the items that are in there and get in the habit of making it the first stop before beginning a new maintenance project or task.

Protective Equipment:

  1. Hat
  2. Sunscreen
  3. Hearing protection (over ear type) 3 pair
  4. Eye protection (safety glasses) 3 pair
  5. Filter masks, full box
  6. Work Gloves that fit you properly 3 pair
  7. Hand warmers 3 pair
  8. Wasp spray, new bottle
  9. Disposable overalls with hood 3 pair
  10. Drop cloth small (1 each, plastic and cloth)
  11. Fire extinguisher small
  12. Blankets 2 each
  13. A water proof box container like this, big enough to hold all this stuff

A good first aid kit that includes the following:

personal home preventive safety kit
Flask for medicinal purposes only
  1. Large and small waterproof band aids 2 boxes
  2. Cotton balls
  3. Cotton swabs
  4. Several sizes of elastic bandage materials
  5. 3” and 4” roller bandages
  6. Several sterile gauze pads
  7. Tweezers (good ones)
  8. Scissors
  9. Motion sickness pills
  10. Asprin
  11. Ibuprofin
  12. Allergy meds
  13. Hydrogen peroxide
  14. Matches
  15. Alcohol
  16. Burn ointment
  17. Antibacterial ointment
  18. Hydrocortisone ointment
  19. Disposable non-latex gloves
  20. A pint of good whisky preferably in a non-breakable metal flask
  21. A Red Cross first aid booklet 

Help me to help you

Congratulations on taking time to use this free website. I truly hope you find the information here fun and useful? Please send me your comments and feedback. Writing and maintaining this site is a lot of hard work. By sharing these pages with your friends, you help me to continue the effort.  You can easily share these pages to all your favorite social media sites via the shortcut buttons on the sidebar. You can also simply email the page link to your friends. Please share often.

The very best way to help me occurs when you use the embedded links to buy things. Using a link is easy and free, yet it provides a great source of support for this site. The vendors I’ve chosen to link to have proven to be the very best resources available so that is why I recommend them personally.

If you have questions or just want to say hi, please send me a note.

Thanks again!


Help me to help you

Thank you for taking time to use this free website. I hope you find the junk-free information here fun and useful? Please send me your comments and feedback.

Writing and maintaining the information in this manual is a lot of hard work. By sharing these pages with your friends, you help me to continue the effort.  You can easily share these pages to all your favorite social media sites via the shortcut buttons on the sidebar. You can also simply email the page link to your friends. Please share often.

The very best way to help me happens when you use the embedded links to buy things. Using a link is easy and free, yet it provides a great source of support for this site. The vendors I've chosen to link to have proven to be trustworthy and are the very best resources available. That is why I recommend them personally.

HomePreservationManual.com is the place to visit if you want information on

  • maintaining your home
  • how to improve air quality
  • ways to improve the real value of your home
  • what are the best housekeeping services
  • the problems with handymen services
  • how to plan and execute home renovation and home improvement projects
  • tips for spring cleaning; tidying up a messy house
  • and generally how to be a better homeowner.

Make sure you download your monthly maintenance checklist for this month.

Linking to this site

Do you want to link to anything on this site? Please do! Go right ahead. I appreciate it and am honored to be considered as a resource on your website. Always feel free to link to anything you find helpful. Of course, please never copy anything (everything is copyrighted and registered), but link away and thanks!

Thank you!

Copyright and permission to use information.

If you have questions or just want to say hi, please send me a note. If you are looking for help performing the work described and you are in the San Francisco area, go to HPS Palo Alto Inc.and request a free evaluation.

As a reminder, it is unlawful to make copies including cut and paste or especially in the form of making printouts for reuse. If you wish to make a print for personal use, I will happily grant you one-time permission if you will kindly send me a request in writing.

Thanks again!