Backup Generator Services
Everything You Need To Know Before Buying A New Generator
Although we hate to think about it, at some point in the future our region will experience another crippling storm system. This might be an ice storm, where frozen trees take down power lines. It could also be in the form of extreme winds where, again, tree branches play havoc with the power grid. It could even be as simple as an unfortunate rodent who gets too close to a transformer. In each of these cases, the solution to preventing your home from losing power is either a backup generator or a whole-house generator.
Yoder Electric has been helping customers install both of these options since 2004. Regardless of which option you choose to go with, we’ll ensure that your home is wired properly to utilize the power generated by these two systems.
What is a backup generator?
First, what is a backup generator? At its most basic level, it’s a power source. A backup generator can be either permanent or portable. For the former, it would be considered a standby unit or a whole-house generator. For the latter, it’s what most people think of when they say they want a backup power source.
In both cases, it serves to provide key appliances in your home with power in the event of an outage.
A portable backup generator utilizes either diesel or gasoline, depending on the power demands of your specific unit. However, this also requires the homeowner to have an ample fuel supply on the property, such as a couple of gas cans in a detached storage shed. A typical setup for a backup generator is to power a refrigerator, a handful of lights, and maybe another appliance. It could also power your furnace during the colder winter months, using the power from the backup generator to keep your blower moving while still heating your home via natural gas.
Another possible use case is for homes that are prone to flooding. A backup generator can keep your sump pump running. In fact, one particular homeowner wanted a backup generator specifically (and only) for their sump pump to protect their basement appliances.
What is a whole-house generator?
On the other hand, a whole-house generator is a more expansive solution to keep all of the important facets of your home running. We also call these permanent or standby generators. These types of units, once installed, stay in place all year long. This type of generator very much acts as an extension of your home’s power grid.
A whole-house generator often will tie into your existing natural gas or propane lines. This is in contrast to a backup generator, which uses diesel or gasoline. This permanency is also another reason why a whole-house generator can power your entire household: the fuel source is continuous, with no immediate fears of running out.
When a homeowner adds a whole house generator, they typically focus on the big items in their home. These include their refrigerator, freezer, forced air systems (including both heating and cooling units), water heater, and lighting. Depending on the size of your whole house generator, you could also consider supplying power to your outlets for items such as consumer electronics.
Of special note is that some whole-house generator units also have a fuel tank. While many can be connected to your propane tank or natural gas line, this is a third (if less desirable) alternative to power your home while avoiding the headache of messing with your gas lines.
Which should you choose?
Now we’ve come to the hard part: which type of generator is best for your home. Below we’ll unpack the reasons you should install each, the role they serve, and who might best benefit from them.
But this is also a good time to highlight why you should utilize a professional electrician to install your generator for you. As mentioned, one possibility for a whole-house generator is to use one with a fuel tank. The rationale is simple: the homeowner doesn’t want to mess with their natural gas lines.
However, this also defeats the purpose of a whole-house generator: the idea is to let it run as long as it needs to while providing power to your entire home. With a fuel tank, you may feel the need to conserve power usage.
By working with a licensed electrician, you can let them handle the entire setup. They’ll make certain that everything is installed correctly, that your home is safely prepared to use the generator only when necessary, and that each fixture in your home can handle the switch from the power company to a generator.
So, when deciding which of the two types is best for you, the solution is the same: trust the experts at R&T Yoder Electric to install it correctly for you. Now, let’s dive into the reasons to choose each option.
Reasons to install a backup generator
A backup generator has a singular function: to provide power to only the most critical of appliances or fixtures in your home. Most commonly, this is your refrigerator or a long-term storage deep freeze and one or two other fixtures in your home.
One of those could be to power a sleep apnea machine. After all, those who suffer from that condition often need their unit to sleep safely each night. Another could be a remote monitoring system, say for those with a chronic heart condition or the elderly.
So, putting that all together, the primary reason to install a backup generator is to protect your most critical connections. Replacing all of the food in your refrigerator or freezer can be costly. Those with medical situations often depend on electronic devices to ensure their safety.
Another reason to install a backup generator is to power your furnace. This is primarily a winter-based reason, but true nonetheless. It could be the case that you don’t keep a lot of food on hand week to week or lack a deep freeze. However, you don’t want your pipes to freeze in the event of a severe winter storm. Hooking your furnace up to your backup generator is a way to keep your family warm and home safe.
And our final reason loops back to the homeowner we referenced earlier. Some homes are simply more prone to water-based issues. Whether a result of the way their home sits on their land or problems with their street’s drainage system, powering a sump pump may be the single most important reason in this situation.
Reasons to install a whole home generator
This then brings us to reasons to install a whole home generator. You may need everything we listed above:
- Powering a refrigerator;
- Powering a deep freeze;
- Keeping the heat on;
- Maintaining adequate power to your medical devices;
And ensuring that your sump pump stays fully operational.
Even a combination of two or three of these reasons would be cause enough to install a whole house generator instead of a backup generator.
Another consideration for a whole home generator install would be if you live in the country. Often, these more remote sections of our region will see power restored well after the city grid is back up and running. As an advantage, your home most likely uses propane for its heating. This, in turn, makes bonding a whole house generator to your propane supply a much easier job. It may not even require any trenching or backfilling, though the team at Yoder Electric can help with that if necessary.
A final reason to consider a whole-home generator is if you live in an area already prone to shortages. This could be due to the aging power grid or the frequency with which unfortunate rodents make their way into a transformer, shutting down the system for prolonged periods.
Servicing a backup generator
As previously mentioned, backup generators are portable units. They’re meant to be pulled out of storage whenever there’s a power outage for a prolonged time. The first thing you should do is read your owner’s manual. This can alert you to any unit-specific processes you should follow.
As a rule of thumb, however, all backup generators will have several commonalities among their maintenance steps. The first is to check their oil levels. Along with those, you should inspect the spark plugs. In both cases, replace what needs replacing.
It’s a good idea to test your backup generator occasionally, perhaps at the start of each weather season. This is a way of ensuring it works as intended and won’t malfunction during an outage.
Backup generators usually have some kind of battery in them. Check them to ensure they haven’t corroded; if they have, replace them before using the unit.
Finally, as with any appliance a backup generator will need to be cleaned from time to time. Make certain it’s free of any dirt or debris and sufficiently far enough away from any type of plant life so as not to impede its operation.
Servicing a whole home generator
Because a whole home generator is a permanent fixture, it has more maintenance steps than its smaller backup generator brethren. There are a few things you’ll need to do to extend the life of your whole home generator.
The first is to replace your air filter routinely. After roughly 100 hours of operation, or at least once a year even if you don’t use it that often, you should replace the air filter.
Like a gasoline-powered vehicle, you’ll also have to check the oil from time to time. This ensures the generator runs smoothly whenever needed.
Did you know that some whole home generators have a fuel filter? This is a yearly replacement as well, even if you don’t use your generator for an entire season. You want the fuel supply to remain unclogged and debris-free, which means this is an essential whole home generator maintenance item.
And as one final note, just like with backup generators, you’ll want to inspect the fuel supply too. This is especially true if you’re using a propane tank and you’ve been using your generator more than usual. As a whole home generator uses propane as its method of powering your home, keeping an eye on your tank levels is always a good idea. And, as a bonus tip, if you’re expecting to use your generator it’s not a bad idea to refill your tank more often, keeping it as full as is reasonably possible so that you never run the risk of running out of power or fuel supply.
Ongoing servicing and maintenance of a backup generator or whole home generator
Another solution to save you time and money with your generator maintenance is to contact our service department. They can set up a residential service contract that would include ongoing maintenance of a backup generator or whole home generator. In addition, your residential service contract can include other household items as well, such as inspecting your control panel, hot tub or spa wiring, and any ongoing electrical troubleshooting you may encounter.
Contact Yoder Electric today!
A whole house generator or a backup generator, whichever you choose to go with, is an excellent way to prevent your home from losing power during the unexpected. After all, spoiled food can be costly to replace if your refrigerator or freezer is without power for too long. Critical medical equipment, especially for those with chronic conditions, needs to have unrestricted power access. And of course, if you have made the switch to an EV for your daily commute, you’ll need a way to charge it until the utility companies restore power to your home.
Would you like to learn more about how a qualified team can help you prepare for the unexpected with a whole-house generator or a backup generator? If so, then contact us HERE or call your local R&T Yoder Electric sales office. We’ve been providing services throughout Central Ohio. This includes all of our neighboring communities, such as Dublin, Delaware, Springfield, Pickerington, Grove City, Hilliard, Gahanna, even out as far as Cincinnati, Dayton and more. We look forward to serving your home and keeping it powered regardless of whatever the weather throws our way.