This site is dedicated to every homeowner that has lost power. Whether you have frozen in the winter or suffered in the summertime, you now realize you need a whole-house generator for your home. But where do you begin? There is a wealth of information -- and misinformation -- on the Internet. Rather than spending hours searching for good data, wasting your weekends trying to get any informationat from the "big box" stores, or trusting your local electrician, just browse this site, and you will find most everything you need to know to make an informed decision regarding this significant investment.

What kind of generator do I need?

Portable vs Whole-House Generators - First of all, there is a huge difference between a portable generator and traditional whole house generator. Portable generators, such as those made by Honda (my favorite), Yamaha, Briggs & Stratton, among many, are designed, well, to be portable. They are ideal for providing short-term power at a construction site, and less ideally suited for providing long-term power for a home. It is certainly possible to connect a portable generatory safely to your home, but that is not the focus of this web-site. If that is your goal, then PLEASE invest in a suitable interconnection device to safely connect the portable generator into your home's electrical system.

Whole-House Generator -  A whole-house generator is a stationary unit that is specially-built to provide high-quality electricity for your home. They are designed to run for extended periods of time, require very little maintenance, and if you use an automatic transfer switch (more about this later), the generator will automatically start and provide power to your home within seconds of a power failure.

Fuel Options - Whole-house generators are powered by one of three fuels:
  • Natural Gas
  • LP Vapor (Propane)
  • Diesel
The vast majority of generators for home use are powered by natural gas or propane, with only the larger (and more expensive) units powerd by diesel. There are advantages for each of these fuels, and like most things, you have to make trade-offs:
  • Choosing natural gas is a no-brainer if you already have natural-gas running into your home. However, because your generator will burn large quanities of gas, your existing gas meter will probably have to be upgraded, and your gas company might charge you several hundred dollars for the upgrade. Using natural gas has the distinct advantange of never having to fill the gas tank. Conversely, it will never run out of gas!
  • LP Vapor is also very popular, and provides a little more power from the same generator as compared to natural gas. This is an attractive option if your home does not already have (or cannot get) natural gas service. The downside is that you have to have one or more LP tanks installed and periodically re-filled. Depending on your propane supplier, you may have to rent or buy the tanks. If you have an extended outage, or a series of shorter outages, you might find yourself out of gas and without electricity.
  • Diesel fuel is very efficient and is an excellent choice for larger generators, typically 25kW and above. Just be prepared to have a large fuel tank, keep it serviced (you have to service the fuel, as it does not keep forever), and as with propan, you run the risk of running out.
Summary - For anything other than shot-term power generation, go ahead and purchase a whole-house generator rather than a portable unit. I recommend using natural gas if at all possible, as it offers the tremendous benefit of providing an endless supply of fuel. A whole-house generator is not inexpensive, but it will provide many years (20 years is a typical life expectancy) of service to you and your family.

Look for other discussions on this site for information on selecting the right size generator for your needs. Also look for discussions about transfer switches.