Electric Generator Myths
Explaining Generator Misconceptions
As the main electric generator expert at Electric Generators Direct, I talk to many customers to help them pick the best backup generator.
Over my time here, Iíve gotten countless questions and have identified several misconceptions or electric generator myths that people believe. So, Iím here to set the record straight and debunk the most popular fake news about electric generators.
Myth #1: Generators Increase Electrical Costs
I get questions from people concerned that a generator will raise their electric bill. Thatís impossible. Your electric bill comes from your utility company, but when the power goes out and you turn on your generator, youíre not using utility power.
Besides, generators do not run on electricity. They create electricity during a power outage. They run on either gasoline, natural gas, propane, or diesel. Some are also dual fuel or tri-fuel models that can run on two or three different fuels. So, if anything, a generator will raise your natural gas costs if you have a standby unit that runs on that.
Myth #2: Running a Generator in a Detached Garage or Other Indoor Area is Fine:
NO! It is dangerous to run a generator of any type in a detached garage, outdoor shed, or any enclosed area. Itís not even safe if your garage door is open. Exhaust gases produced by the generator can accumulate, creep into your home, and poison you and your entire family.
Donít try some cheap DIY venting job either. You must run your generator outside, several feet away from any doors or windows. If itís raining, put it under a protective canopy.
Myth #3: I Can Connect My Generator to My House Through the Dryer Outlet
You cannot connect your generator through the dryer outlet or any outlet in your home. This is called backfeeding and it is illegal. Basically, backfeeding sends power back into the electrical system which can cause a fire in your home and even electrocute a utility worker whoís fixing a power line outside.
The other dangerous part of this is that, in order to backfeed, you need an electrical cord with two male ends. First, these cords are illegal. Second, you can be electrocuted by grabbing the other male end. Third, donít do it.
Myth #4: Generators Power Everything
Generators can send electrical power into any appliance, but not all generators send the right kind of power to every appliance.
Without getting too complicated, most standard portable emergency generators produce electricity with high total harmonic distortion (THD). High THD can damage sensitive electronic equipment like computers, phones, and tablets. So, if you plug your computer into one of these generators, youíre taking a risk.
To power sensitive equipment, you need a generator that produces a THD of less than 5 percent, also known as clean power. Inverter generators and permanently installed standby generator all produce clean power. There are standard, open frame generators, like the RP12000 from CAT, that also produce clean power, but be sure to check the specs.
Myth #5: Noiseless Generators Exist
There are many low-noise generators on the market today. These are perfect for meeting campground decibel requirements and sleeping soundly during the night of a power outage.
Still, there are no noiseless gas-powered generators. Think about itóthereís an engine inside, so manufacturers can only muffle the sound so much. However, certain inverters are now quiet enough to talk over, so that is major progress.
Myth #6: Generator Size Doesnít Matter
A generator is not a piece of equipment you can just blindly buy and expect it to meet your needs. Generators come in a huge range of power outputs. Typically, the more power a generator produces, the more it costs.
For example, you canít buy a 10,000-watt portable generator and expect it to run your whole house. Will it run a few key appliances like a refrigerator, lights, microwave, and sump pump? Sure.
Before buying a generator, you must calculate what size you need. Fortunately, weíve made that easy for you by developing this portable generator wattage calculator. We also have a sizing calculator for standby generators.
Myth #7: The Generatorís Transfer Switch Determines the Power Output
If you buy a 200-amp transfer switch for your generator, that doesnít mean youíre going to get 200 amps of power to your home. In order to get 200-amps of power, your electrical service panel and generator must also be rated for 200-amps.
All three components (generator, transfer switch, panel) must handle the desired amperage or else you wonít get it, so keep that in mind during the buying process.
Myth #8: I Donít Need an Electric Generator
Everyone can benefit from having an electric generator, especially those living in hurricane zones. Even if you only get one power outage per year, you never know when else some extra power will come in handy. Generators can be used for camping, hunting, ice fishing, tailgating, picnics, and so much more.
Plus, the peace-of-mind you get from knowing youíll have power if a multi-day blackout strikes is worth the price.
Have you fallen prey to any of those myths? Do you have any questions about anything generator-related at all? Give me a call at†1 (800) 800-3317. You never know: You might have a new myth.