Don’t Get Left in the Dark

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Investing in a standby generator can provide comfort, security and convenience in the event of an extended electrical outage.

Weather experts are defining this year’s Atlantic hurricane season as the second most active on record, meaning the potential for damaging storms here in northern Georgia are very real. Add to that a winter forecast that predicts colder-than-average temperatures in December and January, which could bring ice and snow our way.  

If a fall or winter storm rips through Georgia, will you be ready if the lights go out?

Investing in a standby generator can provide

comfort, security and convenience.

While most Walton EMC outages last only a few minutes or hours, a serious storm that damages the electrical grid could interrupt the flow of power for several days. Investing in a standby generator can provide comfort, security and convenience in the event of such an emergency.

Choosing to install a standby generator is a big investment, so you’ll want to be well educated before making a purchase. Read these commonly asked questions and the answers to help you determine whether a standby generator is right for your family’s needs.

What is a home standby generator?

A home standby generator, also called a whole-house generator, is permanently installed outside the home (similar to a central air conditioning unit). It continuously senses utility power and, if an outage is detected, comes on automatically. When it activates, it cuts off the home’s electrical system from the grid and takes over until it isn’t needed anymore.

What are the key benefits of a standby generator?

The big advantages are that it kicks on automatically when the lights go out and it can power everything in your home at once, including critical hard-wired systems like air conditioning, heat, sump pumps, well pumps, security systems and large appliances.

How does a standby generator differ from a portable generator?

While a standby model will cost considerably more, it wins out over the portable model in the important areas of convenience and power supply.

First, you must be at home to start a portable generator. So if you leave for vacation the day before an extended power outage, you’re likely to return home to an array of hazards and headaches ranging from a flooded basement (due to a failed sump pump) to a refrigerator full of spoiled perishables. By contrast, a standby generator comes on automatically when the power goes out.

A standby generator comes on automatically

when the power goes out.

Another key difference is the amount of power each can supply. A standby generator can power all the appliances your family is accustomed to using. So while the rest of the block is in darkness, your house can continue humming along as if nothing has happened. In contrast, a portable generator can handle the electrical demands of just a handful of appliances that must be plugged into it.

How is a standby generator powered?

A standby generator runs on natural gas or propane and hooks up to existing gas lines. A portable generator must be filled with gasoline every few hours. In addition, the oil must be frequently changed, especially if running continuously.

Is a standby generator worth the added expense?

Yes, concur the experts at www.bobvila.com. Their reasons: Standby generators tend to last a long time, about 15 years. And upon home resale, these machines recoup about 50 percent of their cost. And for some families, especially those who have vital medical equipment running in the house, the reliability afforded by a standby generator is virtually priceless.

Which type of generator is safer?

Standby generators are installed professionally and provide safe, "hands-off" operation for the homeowner. The portable version, however, comes with some serious safety risks.

Portable generators come with some serious safety risks.

For starters, there is a greater threat of severe shock or electrocution — users must always be sure that the unit is properly grounded, which may be difficult to do in the midst of a severe storm. There is also a greater chance of exceeding the generator’s power rating, which can damage any equipment hooked up to it and/or cause a fire. The greatest risk, however, is when a user tries to use the generator to power the wiring in a home by plugging it into a wall outlet. This approach, called “backfeeding,” can endanger the lives of Walton EMC line workers and your neighbors by sending unexpected, uncontrolled current through the lines.

Can I monitor a standby generator remotely?

Some standby generator manufacturers now offer models with a remote monitoring feature, advises Keith Wasula, national account manager for generator manufacturer Generac. This allows a consumer to check on the current operating status and maintenance alerts of a home generator on a phone, tablet or computer from anywhere in the world.

When is the best time to install a standby generator?

Don’t wait until a major storm has been forecast to order your standby generator. The installation process may take up to a few weeks to complete.

Once you’ve scheduled installation of a standby generator that’s right for your family’s needs, sit back and relax. Your home will soon be protected against power outages of every kind, ensuring you’ll never be left in the dark.