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)
- 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.
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.