While some are still cleaning up fallen trees and waiting for power to be restored from our most recent storm on Tuesday night, it reminded us of a newsletter article we posted about three years ago. SWA Architects also felt the effects of the storm while being without power from Tuesday night until Thursday afternoon. Had it not been for the natural gas back-up generator Bill Styczynski decided to install, we would not have been able to continue serving our client’s needs until power had been restored. We would have lost nearly two days of work, and for those without power in their homes for an extended period of time, things could be worse. So with Mother Nature’s most recent reminder, please take the time to read what we had to say.
(the following was written for our Newsletter issued in January 2008)
In the last few years we’ve seen a strong trend towards home standby generators. Although a generator can run $5,000 or more, anyone building a sizeable home should consider a back-up generator for peace of mind.
Typically power outages coincide with significant weather events, and a generator can help prevent costly damage from water damage when sump pumps and ejector pumps fail. During the winter months a generator can also keep the furnace running to prevent damage from frozen plumbing lines. Another costly effect of power outages is the loss of refrigerated and frozen food.
Beyond the practical reasons, there are many other compelling reasons to install a standby generator. A number of people are now working from a home office either part or full-time. A power outage could create serious problems without a generator to supply power for computers, phones and lighting. Also, homes with elderly family members or small children are more vulnerable to loss of heating or cooling due to power outages.
In contrast to a portable generator which usually will only run for 6-8 hours without needing to be re-fueled, a standby generator is permanently installed outside the home and connected to the home’s main electrical breaker panel so that the generator will automatically switch on and supply power to the house, usually within ten seconds. Standby generators require a transfer switch to make this smooth transition during a power outage. The generator is powered by propane or natural gas, and will automatically shut down when normal power is restored. These generators come in a variety of sizes, based on how many items the home owner wishes to be powered by the generator. Many are sized to power the essential loads: the furnace and possibly air conditioning; appliances such as the refrigerator/freezer, oven or microwave; sump pump and ejector pump; phones and some lighting. However, generators can be sized to power much more, including security, more lighting, computers, TV and certain outlets. The number of items to be powered impacts the size and cost of the generator so the home owner should review their needs and desires with the installer to select the correct one.
For home owners that don’t initially wish to install a generator, wiring and gas lines can installed for the future so that a generator can easily be added at a later date.