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Select a Home Standby Generator in 3 Easy Steps

How to Pick the Perfect Home Standby Generator

Generator Product Expert

Itís the same story, every year. A big storm hits, and after days of stumbling around lighting candles and melting in the Sahara desert that is your home, you swear you wonít let another day pass without getting a standby generator. When you get your internet back, that is.

Even with a small emergency generator the frustration doesn't end. Sure, you might power a refrigerator and a couple lights, but you have to drive to the gas station, wait in line (and hope they have gas), lug around a jug of gasoline, place your generator outside if it stops raining, run extension cords to the house, and hope it starts!

The Perfect Home Standby Generator
Getting the best standby generator for your home is easier than you think and is a great investment for many reasons:
  • Safe - Don't have to mess with gasoline and power cords. Reduced risk of fire, CO poisoning, or electrical shock.
  • Convenient - Peace of mind, even when you're away. Power is automatically restored to critical systems like A/C, water, fridge/freezer, or entire house.
  • Great Value - Increased home value with many sizes for every budget. Pays for itself every time it's used. Delivers the cleanest generator power possible.

Follow the following three steps and in no time you'll never have to worry about the power going out again!

1. Select a Fuel TypeLiquid Propane Fuel Tank
The first step in selecting a good standby for your home starts with identifying the fuel type. Home standbys up to 22kW will use either natural gas (NG) or liquid propane (LP), but if you're looking for a generator that runs on diesel, you'll need to step up to a liquid-cooled whole-house type that costs considerably more.

Both LP and diesel fuels will require tanks large enough to properly run the generator. Similarly, the natural gas meter and gas lines will need be the correct size. Prior to installation, your contractor will verify this with you, but you can find this information in the installation manual on our product pages.

2. Determine Power NeedsStandby Generator & Central AC
Standby generators are rated by kilowatt (kW) or 1,000 watts, which measures the machine's strength and endurance. First, you need to decide if you want to power your central air conditioner during a blackout. In the southern states, life can be miserable during a sweltering summer blackout. Northerners might be willing to sacrifice the air conditioner to save some dough.

If you want to run your central air conditioner, you need a strong generator capable of turning over a high-powered motor. If you skimp on strength, don't expect it to start.

To size your central air conditioner, simply take a good look at its metal data plate. It will tell you either its Tons, BTUs or Amps.

Where to Find a Data Plate on an Air ConditionerIf the label is missing, check out your main circuit panel, most air conditioners use either a 30-Amp, 40-Amp or 50-Amp double-pole circuit breaker. The size of the breaker is typically a great indicator to the size of your air conditioner.

For example, if you have a 4-ton (or 48,000 BTU) air conditioner, you'll need at least a 17-kilowatt generator.

Generator / Central Air Conditioner Sizing Chart

3. Get the Right Switch
Electric Breaker PanelJust like a light bulb needs a switch to turn on, your generator needs one too.

You pick a standby generator and an automatic transfer switch in a bundled package.

You're buying a standby generator to replace the electricity lost from the utility company. If your electrical panel has a 200-amp main breaker, the maximum amount of electricity your home can consume is 200 amps. If you have 100-amp service, it's 100-amps.

Let's be honest. You're never using the maximum amount of electricity. Your consumption is somewhere between 0 and your maximum.

Do you really need a massive 200-amp generator? In most cases, no. You don't use that much electricity in the first place.

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BUYER'S GUIDE: How to Pick the Perfect Home Standby Generator. Electric Generators Direct provides basic information regarding standby electric generators. Experts discuss how a home standby generators are different from portable generators.