Portable vs. Whole House Stand-by Generator
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Portable vs. Whole House Stand-by Generator

On average many homes will lose power once or twice a year for a total of about three hours. However, we know that occasional hurricane remnants are possible locally, and snow storms are prevalent. Therefore, in the Central Virginia area we can lose power for days and sometimes weeks. If you’ve been here for a few years, you remember how miserable it can be.

With the loss of power comes the loss of conveniences that we have become dependent upon. Lack of heating and air conditioning, along with lighting and electronic devices, are just the first problems. We lose hot water and refrigeration and so much more.

The generator, either whole house or portable generator, is a must have in times of extreme power loss. It can literally save the day for your family.

When buying a generator make sure that you buy from a local dealer such as Hickey Plumbing, Air & Electrical. If you think you may pay a little more, remember that you are buying the quality service of the local company also. Parts and expertise are invaluable if your generator goes down when you need it most.

If you happen to buy a portable generator you will read in the manual that comes with the generator warning you of carbon monoxide poisoning. The generator must be placed outside, at least ten feet from the building. You cannot put it in the garage or in the doorway of your home without the threat of being overcome by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Remember with a portable generator that backfeeding power to your home is illegal. Backfeeding is using dual male-ended extension cords to connect the generator to an outlet. Regardless of something you may read on the internet, backfeeding is very dangerous.

Also, let the engine cool down before you fill up the tank to a portable generator. If not, a fire or burning yourself is very possible.

Make sure that you have plenty of oil on hand to refill your generator in case you are without power for an extended time. You also do not want to run out of gas for your portable generator. Remember that if you do not have power, the gas stations may not have power either and will not be able to pump gas. Also along this line, make sure that your gas is clean. Old fuel may gum up your generator making it useless.

Further, make sure that you have heavy duty extension cords. Using undersized extension cords could present a fire hazard.

If you can afford it, a whole house standby generator is by far the best. Unlike portable generators, the whole house standby generator is connected directly to your home electrical system. Thus the advantage is that when you lose power the generator comes on automatically. Whole house standby generators can run off propane or natural gas. This is an advantage in that you do not have to constantly look at the fuel level as in a portable generator. Plus, they are much quieter than the portable.

The difference in cost may be offset by the fact that with the whole house standby generator you do not have to buy the expensive extension cords or transfer switches.

As always, our experienced technicians at Hickey Plumbing, Air & Electrical are happy to answer your questions. Call anytime. We look forward to being of assistance before the power goes out.