Ask A Master Electrician – Question #1, May 2014
Q) How Do I Choose the Right Home Generator & How Should It Be Installed?
Our first question is not so much a question, but a quandary… A long time customer emailed us last week with the following: “I’m thinking of getting a back up home generator, but I am clueless on what I need and if I need an electrician to install it – any help you can give me is appreciated.” – Beth in Highland Park, TX. So, Beth and anyone else wondering about Home Generators, here you go:
A) It’s spring in North Texas which = storms. Storms = power outages. Power outages = trouble for you, your family & your business. As you know, interruptions in power have varied effects on us. They can be an annoying inconvenience (if they last less than a couple of hours), or they can add up to a full-blown financial disaster (if they aren’t repaired for several hours or even days.) So, if the thought of relying on the main power grid to keep you cool, keep your food fresh and keep everyone happy makes you a bit uneasy, join the many homeowners who have taken the step toward insuring their own peace of mind with a back-up generator.
After doing a quick google search, you’ll discover that there are several options when it comes to home generators. The first decision you will need to make is: will you require a portable generator or a hard-wired generator? In order to answer this question, you must know how much power you are going to require to run your MUST HAVE appliances/items. Jesse Maupin, Master electrician and owner of Dallas Landscape Lighting & Maupin Electrical Contracting, Inc, recommends your first step should be making a call to an electrician to discuss your needs/options when it comes to a home generator. Without consulting with someone that knows how much power you are going to need, you’ll be left on your own to try to figure it out. Once that is figured out, it’s time to decide if portable or hard-wired backup generators are the best option.
First we’ll look at the portable generators. A portable generator is the kind you would wheel out of storage and set up next to your house when the power goes down. There are several outlets on the generator that you can then plug your main appliances into. You will need extension cords for this as the generator stays outside. (While there are kits that are sold to bypass the need for running several extension cords – it is HIGHLY recommended that an electrician take care of this. If not done properly, it can be fatal for the linemen working to restore power on the power lines.)
Now we’ll discuss the electrician installed, hard-wired generator. It is simply a better option for most of us because it is easy to use and much more convenient as it is literally on standby. Most of the hard-wired generators will automatically kick on via a transfer switch when power is lost and once up and running, they can power much more than the portable version. This option is definitely not DIY-friendly and you should always consult a professional when looking to install this type of generator. According to Jesse Maupin:
“A lot of homeowners prefer to avoid calling a professional when it comes to home improvement projects and I completely understand why. However, when we are talking about electricity – I ALWAYS recommend hiring a professional electrician. Bottom line – the risk outweighs the gain when it comes to DIY electrical work.”
To sum up, portable generators are fine to power the bare essentials. If you are looking just to keep a couple of things running, this is probably a fine option. However, most of the time you will end up wishing you had the capability to power just one other appliance or even room. That is where the more heavy duty hard-wired generators come in to play. There are many different models of generators that can provide different amounts of power, so when you consult with your electrician they will be able to figure out which type of hard-wired generator is best. Jesse Maupin and Dallas Landscape Lighting can meet with you, give you an estimate and if you accept the bid we will deliver and install the generator at your home as quickly as possible.
“Considering that a generator will not only restore power to the things you need, it also restores comfort and a sense of security… especially for families with children. Knowing that you can avoid sitting in the dark worrying about ‘when’ the power will come back on is a definite relief. Be proactive and contact a professional today. You’ll be glad you did.” – Jesse Maupin, Owner of Dallas Landscape Lighting
For more information on generators, see our Services > Standby Generator Installation page.