October Extra - Portable Generators
This subject may seem a little late in light of the catastrophic events that we went through about five weeks ago. As hard as it is to imagine, the need for portable generators may arise again. Although, we don't experience the direct effect of hurricanes, we do have our share of inclement types of weather. When these acute periods of critical weather hit us, we do have need for generators, although these occasions are rare, they are totally beneficial when needed.
Portable generators can be purchased in various sizes. The correct size depends on individual needs. The more backup circuits you need, the more costly the generator.
There are two types of generators available, the permanent standby type and the portable type.
Permanent Standby Generators
- are installed as part of the electrical system and provide power to the building wiring.
- have an automatic switch that prevents the system from backfeeding power into the utility lines and protects the generator from damage when power is restored.
If a permanent standby system is installed, the utility company should be notified that you have a backup system in place.
- are typically used when only a few vital electrical circuits are needed, such as selected areas of the home or business, refrigerators, freezers, walk-in coolers, sump pumps or water-well pumps.
- purchased for homes normally require a 5,000 watt size. Again, this depends on the size of the need for the home or business. These generators normally sell for prices ranging from $500 to $3000 dollars depending upon the quality and options wanted. Obviously, waiting until the problem is here always seems to inflate the cost.
It is important to have an adequate size generator. If it is undersized, there is a strong possibility that some electrical appliances and other equipment can be damaged or ruined with insufficient current.
Before Purchasing a Generator
- Determine which items are needed in an emergency.
- Check for the total wattage needed by making a list of wattage of each piece of equipment or appliance that will be utilized with a generator. If you have the wattage available, an electrician can advise you on your required needs.
SAFETY CONCERNS WITH GENERATORS
Electrical current from the generator may "backfeed" into the home or business's electrical system and cause damage or fire and ruin equipment if it is not properly installed. It is recommended that a licensed electrician be employed to install the generator.
Generators can also cause personal injury. For example, if a power company employee is working on an electrical line thinking that it is not energized and electrical current created by the generator is in the line, shock or electrocution may occur.
The key to better safeguard against these dangers is to hire a professional electrician to do the installation and for him to install a generator transfer switch. Some transfer switches automatically trip to generator power if there is a power failure while others must be switched manually. A transfer switch works by isolating a few of the electrical circuits in the home from incoming electrical service. If the generator is running and power is restored, the power company's electricity cannot get to those isolated circuits until the generator is turned off and the transfer switch is reset to the non-backup position.
Remember! A generator runs on fuel and must be run outdoors. Do not run it in the garage. The cords used to connect the generator to the lights and other appliances must be properly sized to prevent overheating or damage to the equipment.
BE AWARE &endash; BE ALERT &endash; BE ALIVE !!
8/18/205 Excerpts: statefarm.com
Ted Gordon is the Risk Management/Loss Control Manager for the Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. His office is located in the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center, in Verona, MS. His telephone number is 662-566-2201.