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Helpful tips for Buying a generator
Have you ever wandered through the isles of a big box store and wondered Does anyone work here? Well if you like me have ever found yourself in this situation then you know how great having an expert to guide you on making the right decisions having a wealth of information at you fingertips that can only be found with a specialist. Not to say that these box stores don’t have their place as a one stop shop for general hardware needs. I also wouldn’t be in a Costco shopping for groceries and happen to wander down the isle and see a generator or some other obscure items that weren’t on my shipping list but just having the convenience is also a bad way to make a major purchase, get to the cash register with my eggs, milk, socks and a dishwasher. Before we get into the meat and potatoes , let's identify what kind of generator you need. Unlike the ice cream in your cart , Gas generators come in very few flavours. These are mainly to do with their use and the big one fuel types.Which are , Natural gas, Liquid propane gas, gasoline / diesel and Biofuel.
First step when shopping for a generator
Here is the first question you should ask yourself when choosing a gas generator. Where will this generator be used ? If you are looking for something portable a lightweight gas can type is the perfect solution. These units output anywhere from 1200 to 3500 watts of power. If you need something to power your entire home though, this style won't cut it. what you need is a automatic standby Generator.
WHAT is a watt ?
A watt is a measurement of power, one watt is the rate at which electrical work is performed when a current of one ampere(A) flows across an electrical potential difference of one volt(V).
**CAUTION DAD JOKE **My friend told me how electricity is measured and I was like Watt!
Why do I need to know this ?
For the same reason you need to know buying a generator at Canadian tire isn’t always the wisest choice but in terms of convenience, it's an impulse decision. So What is a watt have to do with the price of eggs in Costco. Let's think in terms of what we would like to power with a generator, for an example let's use a space heater.
Most major appliances have their power ratings listed either on a nameplate, in the instruction manual or even in the model number so keep an eye out. Our example heater is a 1500 watt unit without a fan. It draws 1500 watts or needs 1500 watts to work. Now in a typical home power at the outlet is 120 volts. If we take those two numbers and do some quick math we get 1200watts / 120volts = 10 amps.
These three numbers are very IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW WHEN SHOPPING FOR A GENERATOR.
Emergency backup generators.
Let's try and pick one for our sample home.
In our typical home we have the following electrical loads:
A stove, a cloths dryer, a fridge, a washer , furnace, water heater , lights and receptacles ( for smaller appliances) these are their typical load values.
A stove is going to draw in excess of 3000 watts the same number can be used for a dryer, a fridge is approx. 1200watts a washing machine can draw around 1300 watts, our furnace is natural gas usually a moderate draw from the motor will be around 500 watts, our water heater is also gas unit and will draw around 500 watts, all our lighting is led and for the entire house will draw around 1800 watts when all used at the same time our receptacle loads vary from the Tv to a few computers so lets assume at total of 1500 watts.
Now let's add this up.
3000+3000+1200+1300+500+500+500+1800+1500= 12300 watts sounds like a lot but this is pretty typical of a single family home.
If we use the math we did earlier with these numbers we get 12300 / 240 = 51.25 amps.
Not all these loads will be used at the same time in regular use but if we go over to the box on the wall where the magic pixies run all all these devices, our electrical panel. Take a look and get familiar with this device.
Anatomy of an electrical panel
So what are we looking at here. The large box with at least 20 switches that is used to power various things in our homes. Take a closer look at these switches and the will have a small number printed or stamped on it. Something like 20, 15, 40, 30, 100 etc.
These numbers correspond to the current rating or AMPS each one of these devices is designed to let this rated number off amps pass through to devices or appliances that require a certain amount of power. They also have the added and primary benefit if a device is acting up or malfunctioning and drawing too much current or too fast, they have what is known as trip coil that will shut the breaker off, this prevents things like short circuits from burning your house down savvy.
The largest number should tell you how much power this panel is capable of outputting, ours says 100.
Now if we recall from our previous math example our house only need about 50 amps but we have 100 at the panel for expansions and larger loads. So when sizing an electrical gas generator we should look at the loads we would like to keep running when the utility power goes out and if you're out in the country that can be often especially in the winter.
So we figured we needed a 12000 watt generator to run the entire house if the power goes out.
What sizes do residential backup generators come in ?
Just like portable generators, fixed residential backup generators start at around 4000 watts and go all the way up to 60 000 watts.
Not even home depot will have one of these monsters in stock but at Stealth Electrical Contractors inc we do and can supply all sizes.
We carry generators from 10000 watts all the way to 60000 watts,
They range in size from 10000, 12000 (very convenient) 20000 , 30000, 35000 , 48000 and 60000 watts. Also take note these numbers are also typically shown in kilowatts ( KW ) so a 12 kilowatt generator is actually a 12000 watt generator.
How much does a generator cost ?
In Canadian dollars in 2020 this is what it will cost you to get a 12000 watt generator installed in a typical home.
It's safe to assume that its approx. under $1000 per kilowatt of power. So our home will need a 12kw generator installed, if we don’t intend to have the washer and dryer running or have the stove on during a power outage we can use a smaller unit which off course comes with the benefit of a smaller price tag and we can still keep the lights and small appliances like the tv and internet running. Although if you can foresee a need for the larger capacity its usually a better option to get the bigger unit in case you have to charge your Telsa from a generator. All of our units are capable of being run on natural gas and liquid propane. We buy direct from the manufacturer and can save you hundreds of dollars versus buying a generator at a big box store.
Which generator is the best ?
In essence all big brand generators perform the same task they all have an engine and are usually paired with an automatic or manual transfer switch . What should set these manufacturers apart is how they stand by their product We use The fortress line of generators from Briggs and Stratton, they are manufactured in the USA and have the longest and most complete warranty of any of the big name manufacturers. When you buy a generator from Stealth electrical contractors inc. you get up to 10 years of peace of mind, We also off yearly maintenance plans for units supplied by us, so your unit will be maintained in tip top shape for years to come and always ready to work in the event of a power failure.
Can a generator get rained on ?
Our units a built to withstand a harsh Canadian winter and come equipped with available engine block heater, battery warmer and battery charger/ maintainer all this is mounted on a fibre reinforced concrete pad.
Checklist for Buying a generator:
How much load do I need to power in watts ?
What is the size of my electrical panel ?
What kind of fuel do I have available ?
What is the generator warranty and what does it cover ?
Does the unit have an automatic transfer switch ?
Where can I place a generator ?
Are there any other loads that I might have to power with a generator like an electric car charger ?
Is my home ready for the next power failure?
Ready to buy
If you do not have a Fortress generator from Stealth Electrical contractors then please don’t hesitate , fill out out contact form and see what we can build with you. Our process is very intuitive, we will contact you and find the answers to the questions in the checklist and tailor a standby generator to your needs, we don’t just offer off the shelf service. We provide natural gas generators throughout the Province of Ontario.