How long can a backup generator power a house?

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March 2023 came in like a lamb and seems to be going out like a lion. Large portions  of Ohio have experienced massive winds and significant amounts of rainfall. Together,  these weather patterns may make you wonder if you should install a backup power  system for your home. But how long can a backup generator power a house? Is there a  limit to what’s considered safe? Do you need to perform maintenance?  

The purpose of a backup generator 

Before answering those questions, let’s address the purpose of a backup  generator. Solar panel systems are meant to act as either a replacement for or a way of  reducing your dependence on the local power grid. 

However, this is not the purpose of a backup generator. Rather, if you’re wondering  how long a backup generator can power a home, the simplified answer is “for a short  time.” In other words, it’s not meant to be your only source of power like a potential  solar system. Instead, they are a backup method of power during an outage. 

The two types of backup generators 

There are two types of backup generator systems. One is simply called a backup generator. These are portable units, typically gasoline or diesel-powered, and can keep  a small handful of electronics or a couple of larger appliances powered during an  outage. The second type is a whole-house generator, which attaches to your natural  gas or propane line. This can power virtually your entire home, though the tradeoff is  you’ll burn through your heating fuel at a faster rate. 

A short-term power outage 

Our focus today is on how long either of these systems can power your house. The first  type, those of the portable backup generator classification, typically have large enough  of a fuel tank to power a home for seven to eight days of continuous run time or  approximately 200 hours. However, at least once (possibly twice, depending on you  last used your generator) you will need to power down the unit and replace the oil and  filter. 

A long-term problem 

Many of us remember the ice storms from the late 90s and early 2000s. Those outages  lasted upward of a week in some areas. But what happens if your home is without  power even longer? 

A whole-house generator should have the capability to power your home for up to  3,000 hours, though you will want to consider giving the unit a break. Running it for 500  hours without turning it off is not advised. In addition, if you’re using a propane tank,  you’ll run the risk of running out of fuel for both heating and electricity quicker. 

A better solution is to run it in 10-12 hour increments, and only leave appliances  plugged in as necessary. 

So how long can a backup generator power a house? 

As with most things in life, your mileage may vary. However, the answer to “how long  can a backup generator power a house” is between 200 to 500 hours of continuous  use. It depends on your fuel supply, what you need to power, and how often you can  afford to take the system offline for maintenance. 

Would you like to learn more about your options with home generators? Then just let  us know by sending us a message here. We’ll then be in touch ASAP to go over your  needs and how we can help.

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