Generac Portable Generator
Portable generators are invaluable lifesavers during an emergency when utility power is lost. Storms, earthquakes and other calamities can cause massive electrical outages affecting millions of people. NOAA (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) estimates that power interruptions cost the country $1.5 billion annually and are increasing at 7% per year. Having a backup generator can often mean the difference between a cold, dark home with a flooded basement and spoiling food and a comfortable existence riding out the hardship in the safety of your own home. Portable units can also be quite handy for camping, remote construction sites and anything else requiring transportable electricity. Portable generators provide security and peace of mind by getting you the power you need when and where you need it.
Generac, the world’s leading producer of backup power solutions, offers an array of portable generators including the GP, XG, XP, iX and LP series. The output of these machines can range from a modest 800 watt iX unit to a more robust 17,500 watt GP system. Prices range from a few hundred dollars up to several thousand dollars.
Generac was founded in 1959 by Robert Kern in Waukesha, Wisconsin. The company designs and builds generators for a number of applications including residential, commercial and industrial. Generac began building portable generators for Sears under the Craftsman name. It also developed the first engine designed specifically for generators.
Portable generators are relatively small, mobile machines which utilize a gasoline, diesel or propane engine to drive the generator. Portable generators are differentiated from standby generators in that they are mobile, usually mounted on wheels whereas standby generators are permanently installed on mounting pads and hard wired into a home or business’s electrical system with the use of a transfer switch.
Portable generators are designed with outlet receptacles which allow electric cords to be plugged directly into them. The outlets vary with machine type and size, but they usually offer a couple of 120V 20 amp plug-in outlets with a 120/240V 30amp twist lock outlet.
Standby generator systems are excellent backup power systems for people who want automatic, round the clock protection, but they are significantly more expensive than portable solutions. Portables are not hard wired or connected directly into a home’s electrical system and they don’t automatically start when utility power is lost. Portable generators have to be manually started and equipment and appliances have to be physically plugged into them.
If a decision is made to obtain portable backup power, it’s often a good idea to have crucial appliances such as furnaces rewired to be pluggable, so that they can easily be connected to your generator in an emergency situation.
Portable generators have the key advantage of being extremely versatile. They’re easy to move about and operate. They can power anything from household appliances to camping equipment and construction site power tools. Portable generators don’t require costly and complicated installation and inspection. When the emergency situation ends, a portable generator is shut down and put away till needed again.
Portable generators can also be connected directly into the main electrical system of a house, but only a skilled electrician should do this. This arrangement usually requires an auxiliary circuit box and transfer switch similar to a standby system.
Caution should always be exercised when working with portable generators. Don’t start or stop the generator with a load connected to it. The unit should never be operated in open weather conditions directly exposed to rain or snow without adequate protection. Never operate a generator in poorly ventilated or enclosed areas. Internal combustion engines produce deadly carbon monoxide gas which can kill in minutes. Don’t add fuel while the generator is hot or running and never storing the unit inside the home, if it’s filled with gasoline.
There is also the potential for electric shock or overload particularly with inexperienced users. Overload occurs when an appliance or piece of equipment needs or draws more power than the machine can supply. This can result in poor fuel efficiency, damage to the system or even the possibility of a fire. A circuit breaker should automatically trip before any of these things happen, but it’s best to anticipate any potential trouble.
The first step in deciding whether to purchase a portable generator is to determine your overall power needs. What equipment or appliances do you want to be able to run with portable power? How many lights, refrigerators/freezers, sump pumps, medical devices etc. need to be kept operational? Does everything have to be kept running all at once or can power be rotated from appliance to appliance as needed? Refrigerators/freezers for example, can be charged with power periodically to keep them cold. They don’t require electricity all the time. The easiest way to assess the right size generator is to add up the wattage or power ratings of the appliances that need to be kept operational and then match the total to the appropriate generator. A four to five thousand watt generator will generally provide enough power for most homes to get by on.
Generac’s authorized dealers have technical experts that can assist customers in finding the right portable generator for their needs. These technicians have extensive experience in installation and maintenance.