Keeping the Lights On

There’s nothing like peace of mind. As more of us work and study from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to know that the power will stay on.

Equipping your home with the stability and security that come with a standby natural gas generator ensures that life will not be disrupted should an emergency occur.

“Our lives have become dependent on power. Nearly every aspect of our lives, particularly at home, is filled with things that require electricity,” said Nash Whitney, director of sales, energy management and utility programs, Generac Power Systems. “That’s why the benefits of having a natural gas generator are numerous.”

A generator will help keep the lights on and appliances working during a power outage. For millions of home-based businesses, maintaining power can be invaluable. In more extreme situations, a generator will maintain power during a hurricane or tornado and can even protect the lives of children, the elderly, or someone with medical issues that require power.

Generators that use natural gas to create electricity have several benefits over those powered by diesel or gasoline. In the event of a hurricane or other natural disaster, natural gas can be easier to access because it is carried underground.

While gasoline generators are a good product to have on hand for providing power to hand-tools, lights, and smaller appliances, they can pose some challenges during a large-scale outage. For example, if all the lights go out in a storm, someone has to go to the garage and power up the gasoline generator and run extension cords to the appliances. Also, portable generators often sit unused for extended periods of time and may not work in an emergency.

Power When You Need It Most

Besides their reliability, today’s natural gas generator can sense the outage, then automatically start and transfer the home’s electrical loads. These generators can be sized and equipped to handle specific loads such as refrigerators and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems or even support an entire home.

“This is an important aspect to consider when deciding on what type and size of generator to install,” Whitney said. “For instance, a generator that is sized to handle a home that has a five-ton HVAC system, water heater, two refrigerators and several kilowatts of lighting and plug load will be a different model than one sized for backing-up a refrigerator and lighting only.”

Generac offers a range of natural gas generators. The guardian 22kW air-cooled system and the new 24kW machine are considered whole-home generators, capable of backing up the average American home. The Generac PowerPact 7.5 kW system can handle essentials such as lights, furnaces, and refrigerators.

When deciding which appliances to back up, homeowners should consider their budget, anticipated use, and criticality of specific systems or appliances. Each situation is unique, Whitney said.

“Making these decisions in California, where frequent public safety power shut-off (PSPS)events occur that leave millions without power for days or weeks is much different from making these decisions in East Texas, where frequent nuisance outages can occur for only a couple of hours at a time,” he said.

Prices for natural gas generators chiefly depend upon size and installation. Larger generators that can provide power to more loads are generally more expensive than smaller generators that can only back up smaller loads. Complicated installations that involve extended natural gas or propane lines or trenching electrical cables can be more costly than installing generators closer to main breaker panels. A certified installation dealer can provide more information.

Natural gas generators are permanently installed and operate off the home’s natural gas service. They are hard-wired into the home’s electrical system via an automatic transfer switch and become a permanent fixture that offers resale value to the home.

Homeowners are advised to do the research and decide what’s best for their situation, Whitney said.

“It’s better to have more power than you need and be able to use it when you need it than not have enough power when you need it most.”

This article by Monica Stavish Skaggs and others may be found in our Spring/Summer issue of Natural Living