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Home Standby Generator Buyer's Guide

How to Pick the Perfect Home Standby Generator

Generator Product Expert

Just a few years ago, the thought of owning an emergency standby generator seemed preposterous.

Now, living without electricity is all too common.

Many homeowners simply cannot afford to ride out another power outage.

Instead, they are installing home standby generators in record numbers to protect their families and investments.

Selecting a Home Standby Generator System is Simple
You pick a standby generator and an automatic transfer switch in a bundled package. Standby generators are rated by kilowatts, which basically measures the machine's strength and endurance:

1. StrengthStandby Generator & Central AC
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

2. Endurance
Electric Breaker PanelYou'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.