|Posted by Eric Self on April 16, 2014 at 3:35 PM|
If you have decided you need a generator, the first question to answer is what kind. Standby or portable.
Standby generators are more or less permanently installed at your home, office or commercial building and come on automatically a few minutes after the power goes out. They can run on diesel, propane or natural gas and are best suited for commercial applications or larger homes where no one is on site to monitor the power. In instances of extended outages with extreme cold, it is a relief to know your building will not freeze while you are away even if you have a small home. But that peace of mind comes with a higher price tag. Good home standby units start at $2500 with install fees running total costs to $6000 pretty quickly. Most commercial size units start at $10,000, and can quickly go to $30,000, even $60,000. Running one of these units during an extended outage can be convenient, even necessary, but the fuel cost can quickly run into the thousands when you start emptying large propane or diesel tanks. And annual maintenance and repairs will require $2-$300 hundred dollars a year in your budget as well.
Portable generators are designed for outages of shorter duration that can be handled by people on site. Pricing varies, and good small generators tend to start around $850 and go to $2000. They typically have fuel capacities of around eight hours. After that, more fuel needs to be on hand to extend the run time. These machines have no trouble running continuously for days. Just keep filling them with fuel and check the oil and you should be fine. But that pretty much says it all about the downside. In an extended outage, fuel can be in short supply, or not accessible. Storing fuel can be problematic, and the shelf life is short. Consider too that most small generators are best suited to run limited loads of only necessary appliances. The short list is refrigerator, well and boiler. After that, some lights. Having limited electricity available can pose a problem for some when facing longer duration outages. There are upsides though to these units. Aside from lower cost, they are easy and inexpensive to maintain. They can be transported to a shop for any repairs. They are interchangeable often, so if yours goes down another unit can typically be plugged right into it’s place.
Which is better for you? Maybe this article helped you decide. Or maybe you are like a lot of folks and see that you need both!