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How to Choose the Best Backup Generator for Your Home

How to Choose the Best Backup Generator for Your Home


We’re no strangers to severe weather, especially during the winter months. With temperatures falling well below zero, and the extreme cold warnings we’ve been under, it’s crucial to ensure your household has all the essential items in case you experience a power outage. Being without heat, electricity or food can endanger your family, especially anyone who is particularly vulnerable, such as young children or sick or elderly individuals. Installing a backup generator for your home is a great way to make sure your family stays safe and comfortable, no matter how bad the weather is.

There are two types of generators to choose from: a standby generator and a portable generator. Your needs and budget will help lead you to the best generator for your household.

Portable Vs. Standby

A portable generator is smaller than its standby counterpart, and powers only your home’s essential appliances. Of the two types, this is the more affordable option, so if you’re looking for a budget-friendly solution, a portable generator might be the way to go. It does require gas to run, and since a tank holds between three to six gallons, you’ll have to periodically fill it. Because of the gas, you cannot run your generator inside the house or in your garage, as you risk carbon monoxide poisoning from the exhaust. You must place it in an enclosed area that is at least 10 feet away from the house.

Portable generators are manually powered, meaning you must be at home to turn it on. The downside to this is that if an outage occurs while you’re away, you could be returning to a mess, such as spoiled food in the refrigerator and freezer or a failed sump pump.

In contrast, a standby generator can power all the appliances your family uses regularly. If a power outage happens, it’ll be as if nothing has changed for you and your family. A standby generator also differs from a portable generator in that it doesn’t require manual operation. If the power goes out, your generator will turn on automatically. No effort is required on your part, and it’s safer than a portable generator. However, due to the level of power they provide and their convenience, you’re looking at a higher upfront cost. Many homeowners find the cost worth it as standby generators have a lifespan of around 15 years. To ensure its longevity, you must have a licensed professional install and maintain it.

Check out this simplified comparison chart to see which one is right for you:

Portable Generator Standby Generator
Installation No installation required;place in safe, coveredlocation. Must be installed by alicensed professional toensure proper installation.System is permanentlyinstalled.
Start Method Manually start with a pullcord. No action needed on yourpart. System will turn onautomatically if the powergoes out.
Fuel Type Required Gasoline; tank must berefilled periodically. Natural Gas or propane;Refueling is not needed.
What It Powers Provides power to basicappliances that are pluggedinto an extension cordattached to the generator. Provides power to lights,water heater, refrigerator,select high wattageappliances such as heater,and electronics.
Average Cost of Unit $280 – $3,000 $1,300- $13,000

If you need help determining which type and model of generator will be best for your home and needs, enlist the help of a licensed professional. With so many different makes and models, it’s important to have someone who is experienced help you.

If you would like more information about electrical repairs, maintenance, or wiring services from 24/7 Electric, please call us at 587-315-1361 in Calgary or 778-557-1519 in Victoria, or complete our online request form.


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