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Standby Generators - Powering The Powerless

Bryant Standby Generator

Just a few years ago, the thought of owning an emergency standby generator seemed like an unnecessary waste of a considerable amount of money for the minimal amount of time you will be without power.

These days powerful and vicious storms have been pelting the country, some areas worse than others and this of course has been causing more and more areas to lose power, and often for longer periods of time. This makes for troublesome and potentially dangerous circumstances for homeowners and their family's.

Many homeowners simply cannot afford to ride out another power outage. For one, it can be uncomfortable depending on the time of the year, as well as dangerous for those with chronic illnesses, elderly, and small children. Add onto that potential financial losses, especially those on fixed budgets with families due to possible food loss, etc.

Now families are starting to fight back by installing residential standby generators in record numbers to protect their families and investments.

The idea of a Standby Generator, or backup generator is simple. Standby generators are permanently installed outside and operate just like a central air conditioner with two notable differences.

1. They have engines rather than an electric motor.

Air conditioners run off electric motors, which obviously won't work during an outage. Home standby generators have engines instead.

These systems can be connected via your natural gas line or liquid propane tank and will generate electricity as long as fuel is supplied.

2. Automatic Transfer Switches

Instead of using a thermostat, standby generators use an automatic transfer switch to monitor your utility power.

When it goes out, the automatic transfer switch turns on the generator - whether you're home or not - and automatically shuts it off when power is restored.

Unlike portable generators, home standby generators operate automatically with no human intervention.

Selecting a standby generator requires some thought, a little calculation and depending on your budget some possible sacrifices on what can and will get power.

The first step in picking a residential standby generator really depends on whether you want to power your whole house, just certain circuits, or something in between.

One of the biggest misconceptions about home standby generators is that they restore power to the whole house.

The term "whole house" really depends on the size of your house, which as we all know can vary significantly as will the costs too.

Whole house generators are the ideal solution because they power they power the entire house and for comfort and convenience, but of course, are quite expensive.

The whole point of a whole house generator is to replace utility power during an outage.

Whole house generators feature automobile-like, liquid-cooled engines that run cooler and last longer than their air-cooled counterparts.

Whole house residential generators come in a variety of sizes depending on make, model and kilowatts (kilowatts can range from 7kw – 60kw). You could determine your size based on the amount of electricity your home consumes, your needs but it is advised you consult with a professional technician.

The majority of newer homes in the United States are built with 200-amp electrical service. So simply put your house will not utilize more than 200-amp and in reality, your home will never really use every amp of electricity.

On hot summer days your central air conditioner consumes a very large portion of your total amp-age. At night, most homes use considerably less, but this of course will depend on where you live and your climate.

If you absolutely, positively want to replace every, single amp, you’ll need a 48-kilowatt whole house system, which generates all 200-amps of electricity necessary.

In most cases, however, you can significantly reduce the cost by choosing a smaller model, which could still power your entire home.

The vast majority of homes use 120/240-volt, single-phase electricity. Three-phase electricity is designed for commercial applications, such as restaurants and banks.

So, if you are considering a standby generator do a little research to ensure you get the right model and size that will work for your situation and budget. There are plenty of resources available on the web for research. If you're searching for a plumber in the metro DC/Northern Virginia area give us a call at John C Flood, or visit us on the web at We would be happy to assist you with determining the best solution for you.