What are some of the main safety issues with powering your home by a generator during a power outage? Should you use a particular type of generator? Does the power company need to come and check your generator setup prior to you using it?
Although we live in a state where rarely any weather happens outside of two months, is it still worth having a generator? Although it depends on your family's funds, where you live, and the weather, owning a generator is still worth it. In the summer time in Arizona, it reaches around 100-115 degrees Fahrenheit each day, but A/C units are designed to only operate in 100 degrees or less. This makes the chances of a unit malfunctioning or failing, which you do not want during the summer time. But with a generator, it will give you enough time to stay in the A/C and contact an HVAC company to come help. While this isn't a power outage, it's just another great benefit of having a generator!
What generator is best for my house?
There are not many generators to choose from, but each one has it's own perks that you may want to know about.
First, we'll discuss the inverter generator. An inverter generator may not be the best generator to power your home or A/C unit, but if you only need some small appliances ran or outlets powered, then this is the right fit. These generators are mainly used in recreational settings, as they don't give off huge amounts of power compared to other generators. Even the largest output of power an inverter can give off is around 7,000 watts. The pros of this generator is that it's not harmful to more sensitive devices, like phones and laptops, so if your power goes out but you still need to get work done, the inverter has your back. The con of this generator is that it's not meant to power big appliances, and if it were to power an appliance, it could only be one at a time. This may not be the best for power outages, but maybe for on the go!
Next, is the portable generator. These types use gas or diesel to be powered, so they're more beefy than the inverters. The portable generator may be the best option for you if you're looking for a quick and temporary fix in the chance of a power outage. With the price of fuel though, this may be hard to run, and should be saved for only dire situations. Although it may be more costly, it is worth it if you need your A/C, refrigerator, or TV powered for a couple hours. If you want to run your A/C off of this generator, you will need to have a electrician install a manual transfer switch, which hooks up to the house's electrical circuits. This may work best for you if you know you don't have many things to run in the event of a power outage, but still want the essentials.
Lastly, is the standby generator. This is the most bang-for-your-buck generator, as they can distribute massive amounts of electricity and last the longest. The standbys run off of liquid propane or natural gas, so they may be more cost friendly to run. Although they're not portable, they are still worth it in the long run. These generators are best used for prolonged power outages, where you need your house to keep running as usual with all the essential appliances. These generators are worth it if you want to keep your life moving along as usual.
What are the main safety concerns?
Generators are not dangerous as long as they are cared for properly and located in a safe place. Portable and inverter generators use gas and propane to run, so they emit harmful fumes back into the air, which can be deadly if inhaled. That's why putting the generator in a safe place is so important. A good spot for an inverter and portable generator is about 20 feet from your house, with the exhaust pipe pointing away from the house. This will ensure that the exhaust will not be a danger to anyone and it will also not be noisy to the point where it drives you crazy.
This is not a safety concern for you, but for your generator instead. Generators can withstand a lot of weather conditions, but they tend to fail or malfunction if exposed to excessive amounts of water. It'd be best to put your generator in a covered area or outdoor building that has good ventilation, to avoid damaging your generator and avoid the build up of toxic fumes. Please keep this in mind when finding a location for your generator.
Do I need my power company to check my generator?
For a generator, you do not need a power company like SRP or APS to come and check your generator. It is recommended that you have it checked by an electrician to make sure everything still functions properly and that no red flags show up. Don't worry about trying to have an inspector come out though.
If you're thinking about buying a generator, it's best to do research on highly reviewed generators because it may be hard to tell how something is just from a box. Hopefully this post was able to help point you in the right direction!