Articles

When Is a Standby Electric Generator Essential?

In today’s power-dependent world, the situations where a standby electric generator is essential are increasing all the time. Resembling the outdoor component of a central air conditioner, a standby generator is permanently installed by a professional electrician and hardwired into your main electrical panel. The technology continuously monitors grid power. When an outage occurs, the generator automatically starts and shifts the home over to generator power, usually within seconds. After utility power is restored, the system switches the home back to the grid and shuts down the generator. Most standby generators run on clean natural gas already piped into your home—a fuel source seldom interrupted by weather or other events that disrupt electrical power.

Typical situations where a standby electric generator is essential include:

Weather-Related Outages

Today, severe weather is responsible for over 65 percent of power outages, leaving residents powerless for extended periods of time. In 2011 alone, interruptions of grid power lasting longer than 24 hours affected more than 21 million American homes. Despite the efforts of utility emergency crews, many residents whose homes survived severe storm damage were nevertheless forced to relocate due to protracted loss of electricity.

Planned Outages

Most of the power grid in the U.S. was built in the post-WWII years. When the system can’t handle 21st century demands, a utility will reduce voltage output in what’s called a “brownout.” These managed reductions in voltage account for the majority of grid power disturbances. When they occur, major household power-consuming devices such as air conditioners, cooking and refrigeration and electric heating may be disabled.

Alternative to Portable Generators

Gasoline-powered portable generators typically used for camping or other recreational applications aren’t appropriate for use in power outages. The requirement to extend multiple extension cords around and into the house poses safety issues in severe weather, as does the threat of carbon monoxide gas. In addition, the low output of portable generators is seldom sufficient to operate more than a refrigerator and a few light bulbs, not sustain normal household activity.

Learn more about Nicholson Company’s standby electric generator options, or contact us today at 828-697-2638 to schedule an appointment with an HVAC expert.