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Is a backup generator worth the investment?

As fall storms become severe, power loss is becoming a more frequent occurance – and this is likely to become even worse as we head into winter, where power outages make it extremely difficult to keep your home warm (and your pipes from freezing!). But how much of a power outage is a minor inconvenience, and when does it become worth it to invest in a backup generator?

If you experience several outages per year, or if you tend to be without power for an extended period of time when the lights go out, a backup generator could be the solution you’ve been hoping for. If you have anyone in your household who depends on medical equipment, you should definitely have a backup power option in case of an outage so that access to these devices is uninterrupted. Likewise, if your home includes any senior citizens or small children, uninterrupted access to climate controls (like heat and air conditioning) can be very important as well, as these populations can have a more difficult time regulating their body temperature in extreme heat or cold.

To make an informed decision, though, it’s important to know your options – and the costs and benefits associated with each.

Portable generators are the more affordable option. A certified electrician like A&M Engineering can help you to install the correct wiring in your home, making it easy to “flip the switch” between the power grid and your portable generator. Discuss your power needs with your electrician – in many cases, you don’t need to power your entire house with a backup generator – and “selective” powering can reduce the size (and cost) of the unit you will need. A portable generator is just that – portable, meaning that when you need to use it, you will need to roll it out of storage. A portable generator runs on gas or diesel, so be sure to have a gas can on hand for filling/refilling as necessary. Portable generators emit carbon monoxide, so your unit should be located 20 feet or more from your home while in use (never run your generator in your garage, even if the garage door is open).

An automatic backup generator is a more permanent solution – the unit runs on natural gas, and comes on/turns off automatically. These units are more expensive, but once installed, add resale value to your home and require very little maintenance. All you will need is an annual tune-up/oil change, and you’re good to go! Automatic backup generators are a great option for people running sensitive medical equipment, those who experience frequent, long-lasting outages, and those who don’t want to be bothered and prefer the convenience of always-on power.

To find out more, and to figure out what type of backup generator will best fit your needs and budget, contact us today!

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