Backup Generator

What does a backup generator have to do with being sustainable? When properly installed, a lot. Many people cannot afford or have the need for a standby generator so a portable is a good option for a few reasons. A portable generator can be used for other situations as well as by other people. They are cheaper to maintain and parts are available at a local shop. There are a few steps that need to be done to use one safely and I will cover the basics here.

Standby generators are permanent units that come on automatically when the power goes out. These can be expensive to purchase and maintain but have the convenience of not requiring human interaction to power your house. For some this is the best option, for other it is unnecessary.

Portable backup generators are a good cost effective option when properly installed. First, you need to calculate the power requirements of your home. Just because you have a 200 AMP service does not mean you need that much for emergencies. Unless you want to run a large central air unit most houses can be adequately powered by a 6K-7K backup generator. I suggest buying a well known manufacturer as getting parts for the discount units can be difficult.

Transfer Switch
Manual Transfer Switch

Connecting a backup generator to your house is the most important part of the installation. You need to install a manual transfer switch so the line power is safely disconnect from the grid. A transfer switch for a portable generator usually has 6-8 circuits which works fine for me to power my kitchen, workshop, furnace, wireless router, and select lighting circuits throughout the house. This is the most difficult part of the installation and requires a permit from your local municipality.

The reason I feel a portable generator is sustainable is that others who have a transfer switch installed can use the generator when needed. Like a lawn mower, snow blower, rototiller, and other occasionally used equipment sharing the resource with others reduces waste. Gas powered equipment does not like to sit unused. It also saves in maintenance costs in the long run.

Most people will find a backup generator fine if you do not have high demands or rarely lose power. I run my shop and house when the power goes out without a problem. For me, a generator is essential so I can keep working and keep the house critical equipment (furnace, refrigerator, router, computer, and coffee pot) running on a daily basis.