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Shopping Right-Sized Generators: Standby vs Portable Generators

When outages leave homeowners without electricity without days on end, they can face a long list of inconveniences and expenses ranging from spoiled food to inoperable appliances.

Khadeisha Dawes, Product Manager for Appliance Traders Limited’s (ATL) Industrial line of business, shared that a generator is a first line of defense against power outages.

When shopping around for a generator, one should consider says Dawes, what kind of unit they will need. Here are the differences between Standby and Portable Generators:

Standby Generators
• Home standby generators are installed permanently. They are a little more expensive than portable units and should be installed by a professional.
• These generator types start automatically when the electricity goes out and often supply more power.
• You have your choice of fuel— propane, which is less risky to store than gasoline or natural gas, which provides an unlimited supply of power.
• They range from roughly 5,000 to 20,000 watts.

Portable Generators
• Portable generators can be moved around and come in different sizes. These units tend to cost less than home standby generators.
• They typically run on gasoline that you may need to store in large quantities. A stabilizer must be added to your fuel for prolonged storage.
• You can use portable generators anywhere on or off your property but they must be at least 20 feet away from any structure, including your house, doors, or windows—and not in an enclosed space. Make sure the exhaust is facing away from your house. If it’s raining, you must use a tent or cover.
• Several of these models offer electric starting. The battery required, however, may not be included.
• They provide from 3,000 to 8,500 watts.

Both Standby and Portable Generators have enough juice to power an entire household and they can connect directly to your home’s circuit breaker panel allowing you to control and run appliances that are hardwired, such as air conditioning, pumps, electric ranges and water heaters. If you have any of these and it’s essential for them to work in a power outage, be sure to have a transfer switch installed at your breaker box by a licensed electrician should be able to handle the job.

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