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4 questions to ask before buying a backup generator

Posted by Garick Giroir on August 17, 2020

blog buying a home backup generator

After 121,000 Louisiana households lost power in the wake of Tropical Storm Barry in 2019, you don't have to be a doomsday prepper to recognize the practical advantages of owning a home generator during hurricane season.

If you're tired of working by flashlight during a big storm, here are answers to the most commonly asked questions about home generators to help you determine if owning a generator is right for your needs — and your wallet.

When is the best time to buy a generator?

There's no time like the present to start hurricane preparations. But if you're looking to get a deal on your generator, you can save up to 50% by waiting until the end of hurricane season to buy. Retailers tend to order more generators than they plan to sell so that they don't run out of inventory while the product is in high demand. After hurricane season, demand for generators drops significantly. Retailers don't want to get stuck with the equipment so they offer discounts to recoup their investment, much like how Christmas decorations are sold for dirt cheap in January.

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How big of a generator do I need to power my major appliances?

When shopping for generators, it's important to figure out what you're willing to live without during a power outage. Once those expectations are set, look for a home generator that can keep up with your power needs.

According to Consumer Reports, here's how much power you'll need to run various appliances.

UP TO 2,000 WATTS Powers refrigerator (700W), laptop (200W), 5-10 lights (250W), smartphone charger (20W), home security system (100W).
UP TO 3,500 WATTS Powers refrigerator (700W), laptop (200W), 5-10 lights (250W), smartphone charger (20W), home security system (100W). PLUS: 10K BTU air conditioner (1,000W) OR ONE OF THESE: Toaster oven (1,200W), hair dryer (1,200W), washing machine (1,200W), space heater (1,500W), coffee maker (1,000W).
UP TO 7,500 WATTS Powers refrigerator (700W), laptop (200W), 5-10 lights (250W), smartphone charger 20W, home security system (100W), 10K BTU air conditioner (1,000W). PLUS: Well pump (1,250W), sump pump (900W), and gas or propane furnace (800W) OR ONE OF THESE: 8-inch burner on an electric range (2,000W), dishwasher (1,500W).
UP TO 20,000 WATTS Powers everything in your home.

Source: Consumer Reports

 

Is it better to get a portable or standby generator?

Portable generators are high maintenance but affordable. A good portable generator can last up to nine hours and will provide enough energy to power your home’s essential appliances. On the downside, portable generators are incredibly loud and may fail to start if not properly maintained.

Standby generators are low maintenance but expensive. Costs can range from $2,500 to $5,000, plus an extra $5,000 for installation. Price tag aside, standby generators are hands-off power source that will switch on at the first signs of a power outage, making it a great option for elderly and not-so-handy homeowners that don’t want to wrestle with a generator during a bad storm.

How much does it cost to keep a portable generator running?

Fuel type is a major factor when estimating how much it will cost to keep your portable generator running.

According to Santa Energy, an 8-kilowatt diesel generator burns roughly 0.5 gallons of fuel per hour. With an average diesel price of $2.23 in Louisiana, it will cost you roughly $27.76 to run a diesel generator for 24 hours. A 6-kilowatt propane generator burns about 1.42 gallons of fuel per hour, which would end up costing you around $63 for 24 hours.

Don't wait until a storm enters the Gulf. Hurricane-proof your finances today at www.LouisianaFCU.org/prepare.

 

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