How to select a backup power generator for your home

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How to select a backup power generator for your home

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Champion Power Equipment

In the modern world where electricity is required to power all forms of electrical devices, the simple loss of power to an alarm clock, coffee maker, refrigerator, cash register or fuel pump, denies us of all these things we tend to take for granted on a daily basis.

Whether the failure of an electrical grid is caused by the breakdown of equipment, an accident, or an act of nature, people tend to panic because of their dependency on electricity for their daily existence, and this is especially so when the power remains off for prolonged periods of days or weeks.

To avoid the possibility of an extended power outage within your own household, you may want to consider purchasing a portable emergency power generator. Determining what you need isn’t hard, and by following a few simple steps you’ll be able to avert a minor catastrophe when you need power the most.


Step 1

Determine which electrical devices you may need

Determining which electrical devices in your home will be needed during an extended power outage is critical to maintaining a basic level-1 of living during an electrical crises. Some of the critical devices you may need to consider running off of an emergency power generator are:

  • Your refrigerator to keep foods from spoiling
  • Some lights
  • At least one television so you can follow hazardous weather reports
  • At least one Cable/Satellite box
  • One computer, monitor, and cable/DSL modem

The primary concern when establishing your emergency power requirements is to select only those items that are critical to maintaining your life and to provide for a basic sense of security during a power emergency.

Step 2

Calculate the wattage of each device

Once you’ve completed your list of required devices, you need to determine the running wattage of each individual device. Every modern electrical device has either a label attached to it, or information molded into it that tells you how many amps the device pulls, what the voltage rating is, and/or the total watts it uses during normal operation.

A typical AC adaptor label reads «INPUT: 120VAC 60Hz 15W». From this example you know the voltage rating of the device (120VAC), and the wattage rating (15W), so if you were to use this device with an emergency power generator, you know that it will require 15 watts of electricity to operate it normally and continuously.

Flourescent light bulbs often may be found with ratings of 13 running watts or less. With this in mind, if you had a home with four bedrooms, you could power one lamp in each room during an emergency power outage at the cost of only 52 watts.

In the event one or more of your devices lists only the voltage and amps on its label, you can determine the wattage of the device by using this formula: WATTS = VOLTS x AMPS.

Step 3

Calculate any additional starting watts needed

Emergency power generators are robust beasts that can handle low wattage devices easily without much strain. But larger devices, such as refrigerators, levy a much higher demand for power on a generator, because the refrigerator has a motor on it that has to be powered-up and running for the refrigerator to work. This extra demand is known as «starting watts«; the extra watts needed for two to three seconds in order to start motor-driven devices. These must be added to your total wattage requirements to avoid overloading and damaging any generator that may be tasked with the additional load.

So, if you have a refrigerator that’s rated at 780 running watts, all you have to do is double that figure to determine what your total starting wattage will be. In this example it’s 780 x 2 = 1,560 starting watts. Be sure to write your calculated starting wattage next to every motor-driven device you plan to power-up with an emergency generator. When you tally your total wattage requirements in the end, you’ll use only the largest starting watts figure from all of your motor driven devices in the finalized total.

Things Needed
• List of critical devices
• Running (rated) watts of each device

Tips & Warnings
• Only select those devices that will be critical to maintaining life and a basic sense of security.
• Select a generator that will provide a little more power than you actually need.
• Double check your wattage calculations to be sure you’re accurate.
• Add any additional starting watts needed for critical large motor driven devices such as a refrigerator.
• If you have more than one motor-driven device, only add the largest «additional starting watts» figure to your final wattage calculation.


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