Choosing a Generator
LESLIE: Alan in Florida is looking to get some backup power to his home. What can we do for you?ALAN: Just that. We bought a home about a little under two years ago and I’m looking to try to find out what would be the proper-sized backup generator in case the power goes out.TOM: Well, you’re talking about a standby generator. So you want this to power the entire house, correct?ALAN: Preferably, yes.TOM: Yeah. You know, it’s a good time to buy a standby generator. We’ve had a lot of storms this year and other reasons – for that and other reasons that force our power to go out, having a standby generator is very, very nice. I actually have, in my house, Alan, a Generac unit that we put in it’s got to be at least five years now. And it’s a beautiful thing when the power goes out and I’ve got the only house on the street with lights and refrigeration and everything else that you depend on it for.To determine how big of a unit you need really depends on how many circuits that you want to power. If you wanted to power the entire electrical panel, you’ll need a bigger panel than if you want to just sort of do the mission-critical circuits. But you’re probably talking about something anywhere from around 12 kilowatts up to about 20 kilowatts for the average-size house.ALAN: OK, I pretty much want to be able to sustain the whole house because – well, one of the reasons: I’m an over-the-road truck driver and I’m gone a lot and I don’t want my wife to have to worry about it.TOM: Yeah. And of course this is going to be natural gas-powered, so you won’t have to worry about gasoline. They’ll all just run automatically. You have natural gas in your house?ALAN: No, it’s actually an all-electric home.TOM: OK, do you have – you may want to think about going with propane then.ALAN: OK.TOM: Because this way, the system will be ready to go no matter what happens. You don’t want to have to rely on having gasoline to operate a generator because when the power is out, guess what?LESLIE: They can’t get the gas.TOM: The pumps are down, too.ALAN: Right.TOM: Right. So you’re probably going to look for a propane system. You know, there’s a good website that has a lot of information on how to size generators and you can actually go through and add up the circuits that you have.LESLIE: It like takes you through a five-step process so you know exactly what you’re getting.TOM: Yeah, it’s ElectricGeneratorsDirect.com.LESLIE: And you know what? Alan, every year there’s a cost-versus-value survey about updates that you can make to your home. And this year they added backup power generators to their surveys. And in the Miami area, you recoup 89.2 percent on putting this into your house. So you know it’s a good investment, especially when it comes time to sell.ALAN: OK, thank you. That’s good information to have.TOM: You’re welcome, Alan. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.