Well ladies and gentlemen I know deep in my heart that you do not want to hear what I am about to say so if you are not ready to face reality please turn away now, otherwise read on my friend.
Hurricane season will be upon us very soon and the question is, are you prepared if the electricity goes out for a day, three days, or even two weeks? Those who think the electricity couldn’t go away for two weeks obviously weren’t here for Hurricane Wilma in 2005 when exactly that happened, for some people it was longer.
I can only speak to my personal experience, I had no electricity for 15 days to be precise. Those were long hot, sweaty, sleepless nights, no hot food, no hot water – a miserable two weeks. The only saving grace is we had a couple of days that it got cooler because it was October but I promise you a good time was not had by all. If I had only has some kind of backup generator as I do now things would have been much different. Ok so let’s talk about generators.
The first thing you want to consider is how many things do you want to have electricity for? Generators run the gambit in sizes and what they will do. A small portable can run your refrigerator, a couple extension cords to charge your devices and maybe a fan. A whole home generator when properly sized can run your entire home for up to two weeks or longer if you are lucky enough to have natural gas on your property. We begin with the good the bad and the ugly when it comes to portable generators.
- Small and easy to store
- Relatively inexpensive
- Low maintenance
- Quick start up
- Need to be refueled often
- You must keep and store a supply of gasoline
- Very limited in what they can power
- If used improperly you can die
- Let me repeat that, if you are not very careful with how or where you run a portable generator, you can die
When it comes to portables visit your friendly neighborhood home improvement store, have an idea of what you want to power and I am sure the associate in the store can guide you in the direction of what is right for your needs. Moving on to a bigger and better solution, I want to discuss whole home generator systems.
Again, whole home generators come in a variety of sizes so the first question is how much of the house do you want to have power in and how many things in the home do you want to be able to run. I am going to focus on the typical 2175 sq. ft. home with one air conditioner, one water heater, 3 bedroom and 2.5 baths. In this particular case if you wanted everything in the house to be perfectly normal whether FPL is delivering power to your house or not, you would need a 22 KW generator with a 500 gallon propane tank. When you have a consultation with your generator contactor of choice (preferably Art Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electric) they will have many questions and will assist you in choosing the right size generator for you and your home. For those lucky few with natural gas, no propane tank is needed obviously. Again let’s go to the good, the bad and the ugly.
- Seamless integration when the power from FPL goes out. Lights go out, three seconds later, lights come back on.
- Sized correctly everything in the home is working as usual; AC, hot water, all the lights, etc.
- No work is required on the home owner’s part
- In most cases will last about 15-20 years
- Again noise, not as bad as portables but your neighbors are going to know that you have a generator and that its running
- Requires professional maintenance annually (not really a bad but still an expense)
- You will need to refill your propane tank (again not a bad but a cost)
- The price. A whole home generator system will start at around $14K and go up from there depending on size, location and whatever other modifications need to be done to the home. Again, everything is relative in terms of investment; I just want you to go eyes wide open down the path of installing a backup generator system on your home.
Well, I hope you have enjoyed this electrifying journey through the land of backup generators and as always, until I see you again, remember to never trust and electrician with no eyebrows.
House Whisperer out!!