Do I Need A Standby or Whole House Backup Generator?

Having trouble comparing a standby vs whole house generator?

If you live in an area of British Columbia where power outages are frequent or sometimes lengthy, you may want to consider installing a backup generator. There are two options to consider, depending on your needs, which include:

Natural Gas Powered Backup Generator
  1. Portable standby generator
  2. Whole house backup generator

Standby Backup Generator

If the power outages in your area are not as frequent and the power usually isn’t off for very long, you may only need to install a standby vs whole house generator. For most residential uses, a small, portable standby backup generator is sufficient to power a limited number of lights and power outlets in your home. Standby generators do require a constant supply of fuel to keep running.

Standby backup generators are usually inexpensive (under $1000) and can be purchased online, at your local hardware store. Our Premium Electric company in Abbotsford also offers generator sales and service. Most small residential standby generators are under 4000 Watts whereas a mid-sized standby generator can be between 5,000 and 8,500 watts.

Call our Abbotsford electrician at 604-308-6195 to have the proper sub-panel and transfer switch installed so that you can operate your standby generator safely.

Whole House Backup Generator

What if you live on a property that is more rural where power outages in your area are very frequent and usually remains off for an extended amount of time. In that case, you may want to consider installing a whole-house backup generator vs a standby generator.

Whole house generators are also great options for anyone with a home-based business or if someone in your household uses a medical device that needs a constant supply of electricity.

Whole-house backup generators can be portable (10,000 watts) or they can be permanently installed stationary generators (between 10,000 and 15,000 watts). Whole house generators do have a larger upfront cost but they can supply all the power your home needs when there is a power outage. Always have your whole house backup generators properly installed by a certified electrician. For more information, call our Premium Electric electricians at 604-308-6195.

The other advantage of installing a whole house generator is that they automatically fire up when there is a power outage and the generator feeds the electrical panel directly. They can also be hooked up directly to your natural gas supply, which would not be affected during a power outage. Once the power is restored to your home from the grid, the stationary generator automatically shuts itself off.

What Does A Backup Generator Power?

Depending on the size of your standby vs whole house generator, when there’s a power outage you can still supply a limited amount of power to your home. Backup generators can be used to power your home’s lighting, heating, hot water, and power plugs to keep the electrical appliances in your home running. They can also power your home alarm system and your fire alarm system.

If you operate a farm or acreage that has consistent electrical requirements and you have no city water or sewer services, then a stationary backup generator may be imperative for your livelihood.

Wattage Usage – Standby vs Whole House Generator

A portable backup generator to get you through a day or two of inconvenience is relatively expensive, but it does have limitations. Every electrical device draws a certain amount of wattage. How large a standby generator you may require depends on your device wattages.

Here are some rough estimates for wattage usage:

  • Lights — 60 to 600 watts (depending on the number of lights)
  • Refrigerators — 600 watts
  • Freezers — 200 watts
  • Portable Heaters — 1500 watts
  • Computers — 60 to 300 watts
  • Window air conditioner — 1000 watts

To power, the items listed above you would need at least a 5,000-watt backup generator. If you wish to power more you may need a whole house generator. For portable standby generators, you will also need to have enough fuel on hand to run the portable generator for a day or two. If your home has no sub-panel or transfer switch, you will need long extension cords to run power from the backup generator into your home.

This post offers great information on Generator Maintenance Tips.

About Premium Electric

Along with 24-hour emergency electrical services, Abbotsford’s Premium Electric provides a wide range of electrical services for clients throughout the Fraser Valley including Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Maple Ridge, Aldergrove, Langley, and Mission.

Let our certified Abbotsford electricians help you install a standby or whole house backup generator to protect your home or your business. All our electrical work is warrantied.

If you have any questions or need more information about a standby vs whole house generator, please call Premium Electric at 604-308-6195 or send us an email.

See this Consumer Reports article for additional information on How to Choose the Right Size Generator.

You might also like this post entitled, 10 Downed Power Line Safety Tips.

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