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Generators: Portable vs. Whole home

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Well folks hurricane season is well under way and the time to talk about generators is here. Today I want to look at the advantages and disadvantages of different types of generators to give you power when FPL cant. Let’s start with the portable generators. A portable generator is exactly what it sounds like; it is compact in size, can be stored easily in the corner of the garage and they are relatively cost effective. A portable generator can deliver anywhere from 2,000-12,000 watts of power and the costs range from a few hundred dollars into the thousands depending on the size of the unit. Portable generators have quite the list of disadvantages.

  • They have small fuel tanks that need refilled often and they must be monitored on a regular basis. I don’t know about you, I however do not relish the thought of going outside in the middle of a storm to put gas in the generator.
  • Portable generators are dangerous if used incorrectly. The fumes from the motor have the ability to kill you if the unit is used in an enclosed space
  • You have to run extension cords with portable generators to whatever you want to power.
  • They are typically very limited in what they can power depending on size. For example a 7,500 watt generator will handle a refrigerator, a couple of outlets and maybe a TV. You aren’t going to have air conditioning and no ability to cook on an electric stove. You’ll have no hot water either.
  •  They are very high maintenance, should be started regularly and if the gas in the machine is too old the unit likely won’t start.

The bottom line with portable is that if you can live with inconvenience, are very safety conscious, and it’s all about the budget then go portable, otherwise you may want to consider making the investment in a whole home standby generator. Let’s take a peek at the advantages of a whole home generator.

  • You do nothing, when the power goes out the transfer switch engages and the power is back on in seconds.
  • Much longer run times. As you know in bad hurricanes the power may be out for weeks, and gasoline is hard to find. If you have natural gas a whole home system will run for as long as the power is out. If you have a 500 gallon propane tank instead of natural gas to power the generator depending on the load being used you will have power for 7-14 days before needing to refill the tank.
  • Again you do nothing; most whole home generator service providers have maintenance agreements available making it a hassle free option.
  • Today’s generators as with most things have an app that allows you to monitor and control the unit from any smart device.
  • As long as the generator is sized correctly you won’t really have any inconveniences. You’ll have air conditioning; you’ll have hot water and be able to cook as usual.

A generator that can power a typical 2,000 sq. ft. home will start in the range of $4,500 if you already have an older whole home generator that needs replaced. That price is based on having the transfer switch in place, along with the fuel source and all other electrical components being in good condition.  If you are starting at ground zero, have no gas source and need to make modifications to the electrical system pricing will go up from there. The good news is most generator service providers offer financing. Personally I don’t think you can put a price on the peace of mind that comes with knowing no matter what is happening with the electrical main grid your home is going to have the lights and the air conditioning on. Alright kids, I’m being told I need to get my butt to Fort Lauderdale for a dead air conditioning system so until I see you again I hope you found this post slightly electrifying……….Groan.

House Whisperer out!!


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