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In today's technology-driven world, backup power is fast becoming a household necessity. The same electricity supply that once ran only the basic necessities (lights, appliances, and heating and cooling systems) must now power computers, security systems, and smart-home automation. Increased uninterrupted power demands coupled with industry deregulation have made brownouts and complete power outages more prevalent in many parts of the country. While candlelight navigation may suffice for a few hours, when bad weather knocks the power out for days on end, a reliable, self-contained backup system can keep phones ringing, computers running, and heat pumping. And it is more than just convenience. When the heater is running pipes won't freeze, and when the security system is powered intruders are held at bay. Best of all, should the power fail modern systems power up automatically, whether you are at home asleep or across the country.
What's in a Watt Backup power isn't a purchase that should wait until an outage is at hand. Planning is crucial, and begins with an assessment of your basic needs: refrigerators, lighting, computers, attic fans, heating, cooling, and security systems. Total essential wattage determines the size of your backup system (backup power systems are typically rated by the amount of wattage they can produce).
A permanent backup power solution, this natural-gas-powered generator from Kohler can support an entire home's electrical needs for several days.
Wattage calculations for backup power systems must accommodate the peak power load of all the devices to which they supply electricity. Accommodations are required for startup (which often uses more power), as well as the steady-run rate for all appliances. Furnaces are perfect examples of systems that demand high start-up power. A furnace with a slow-start motor option will help even out the load. Since more energy-efficient appliances directly impact how much load a backup power source can support, it's best to replace energy hogs if you expect to lose power on a frequent basis. A wood or gas stove is a good addition to backup power for homes with electric heat. A reputable dealer can help assess true wattage needs.
Sizing a System It's more economical to buy a generator that's slightly larger than calculations of steady-run rates warrant, because a generator will need to handle all of the appliances coming online at one time. Since those startup loads are heavy, running the generator frequently at its maximum capacity will cause extra wear on the engine. Especially with manual startups, be certain to turn off all appliances first, then turn them back on individually once the generator is running. This will help avoid the strain that simultaneous startups can cause. If the system is automatic, everything will go back on at the same time, so the generator should be sized to accommodate the strain. Automatic shut-offs will kick in if the backup system is overloaded, which defeats the purpose of a generator.
Generators Backup power comes from generators or battery systems. Generators make new energy, while chargeable batteries harness and store existing utility power for later use. First decide what must keep running and for how long. In the country, where restoring power may take days, a generator is the way to go.