Powering Your Home During Outages: Discover the Benefits of Home Backup Generators!

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As unpredictable weather and power outages become more common, homeowners in Melbourne's eastern suburbs are looking for reliable ways to keep their homes powered. One effective solution is installing a home backup generator. These generators provide a steady source of electricity during power outages, ensuring your essential appliances stay running.

In this blog, we’ll explain what a home backup generator is, how it works, and why it’s beneficial. At Kenner Electrics, we aim to help homeowners in Melbourne's eastern suburbs by providing the knowledge, expertise, and professional installation services needed to keep your home powered and safe.

What is a Home Backup Generator?

A home backup generator uses fuel to generate power via an internal combustion engine, typically running on petrol or diesel. These generators are used as a backup when the power goes out, generating 240V AC power via 10A or 15A socket outlets to provide electricity to essential appliances in your home.

A backup generator only works when you are disconnected from the grid, such as during a power outage. It functions in isolation from the grid, meaning you cannot simultaneously use a backup generator while drawing electricity from the grid.

Is It Different from a Standby Generator?

Yes, a backup generator is different from a standby generator

Standby generators are generally used in commercial or industrial settings and are permanently connected to the building. They are designed to kick in automatically when the power from the grid is interrupted and will generally provide enough power to back up all your power needs. 

They may also be used in off-grid homes in situations when backup batteries are depleted, and there is insufficient renewable power to power the whole building. 

A backup home generator, on the other hand, is generally portable and requires you to manually switch over to backup power when the lights go out. Due to its smaller size, it will only generate enough power for the essentials for the duration of a blackout.

Benefits of Petrol/Diesel Backup Generators

Petrol and diesel generators offer several benefits for homeowners. Firstly, they provide reliable backup power during outages. With a generator, you can keep your home's power, lighting, and essential appliances running, ensuring you stay comfortable and safe. This means you won't have to worry about food spoiling in the fridge or being left in the dark during a blackout.

Generators are also a cost-effective solution. Investing in a generator can be more affordable than purchasing a home battery system, which can be quite expensive. 

Another benefit is the refillable fuel supply. Generators can be easily refilled with petrol or diesel, making them a dependable source of power as long as you have fuel on hand. This is particularly useful during extended outages. 

Lastly, generators offer flexible placement. Unlike vehicle-to-load (V2L) systems, which rely on plugging into your electric vehicle in your driveway or garage, generators can be placed anywhere on your property. This portability means you can position your generator in the most convenient spot, whether in your backyard or a sideway, ensuring it’s out of the way but still accessible when needed.

Drawbacks of Using Generators

While generators are highly beneficial, they do have some drawbacks. One significant issue is that generators produce carbon monoxide, a dangerous gas that can be lethal if inhaled. Therefore, it is crucial never to operate a generator indoors or in any enclosed space. Always ensure it is placed outside in a well-ventilated area to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Another aspect of using generators as a backup power source is that they rely on fuel, specifically petrol or diesel. Since these are not renewable energy sources, it is not the greenest way to keep your essentials running during a power outage. If you’re on the hunt for a sustainable solution, check out our blog on using your electric vehicle as a backup power source using vehicle-to-load.

Things to Consider When Purchasing a Backup Generator

When purchasing a backup generator, there are several important factors to consider. 

Size and Load Capacity of Your Backup Generator

First, you need to determine the size and load capacity required. Do you need a generator to power your entire home or just essential appliances? The size of the generator will also influence the price, so it's essential to balance your power needs with your budget.

Petrol and Diesel Generators: Which Fuel Type is Best?

Another consideration is the type of fuel the generator uses. Petrol generators are common and typically more cost-effective, while diesel generators offer better fuel efficiency for longer outages. You'll also need to think about the availability of the fuel type you choose and the generator's fuel capacity.

Maintenance and Noise Considerations for Backup Generators

Ease of maintenance is another crucial factor. Generators require regular servicing, including checking oil levels, spark plugs, and filters. This ongoing maintenance represents an additional cost that should be factored into your decision. Additionally, you should consider the noise levels of the generator, especially if you live in a neighbourhood with noise restrictions.

Budgeting for Fuel Costs

Finally, consider the cost of fuel. Operating a generator can become expensive if fuel prices are high or if the generator has a high fuel consumption rate. Make sure to account for these costs when budgeting for your backup power solution.

What Size Backup Generator Do I Need?

The power output of a generator depends entirely on the size and load capacity of the unit you purchase. Small portable generators are available in various sizes, offering a range of options based on your specific power needs.

For most households in Melbourne, a 15A generator would be a suitable size to provide backup power for essential appliances. This would adequately provide temporary power during a power outage, but it would not allow you to run your home’s appliances at full capacity.

For example, if you have a 15A generator, you can easily run essential appliances such as lights, TV, internet, computer, and fridge simultaneously. However, large air conditioning units or heaters likely won't work with a smaller generator because they draw too much power. A small reverse cycle AC (500W) or heater (2200W) may be compatible, but they will consume fuel much faster than running just lights, a fridge, and a TV.

At Kenner Electrics, we recommend a 15A generator as a minimum temporary power supply during blackouts. But if you need more capacity, such as being able to run an air conditioner and cook on an induction cooktop simultaneously, we’d recommend purchasing a larger generator, such as a 32A unit.

To prevent damage, avoid running the generator at full capacity for long periods. To maintain the generator's efficiency and lifespan, it's recommended to use only 80-90% of its load capacity, particularly in warm weather. Additionally, many generators are equipped with built-in circuit breakers that help prevent overloads, ensuring safe and smooth operation.

Once you start looking at generators above 32A, it becomes more of a fixed setup rather than a portable backup system. If you have 3-phase appliances that you want to operate using your backup power, this will require a specific 3-phase generator setup, which is different from standard single-phase generators used in most homes.

How Long Will My Backup Generator Provide Power For?

The runtime of a generator depends on several factors, including the fuel tank capacity, the amount of fuel you have on hand, and the power load it supports. To determine the runtime, you should check the generator's specifications for information on fuel consumption at various loads. Remember that runtime can vary based on fuel type and generator efficiency.

Here are the key factors that influence generator runtime:

  1. Fuel Availability: How much fuel you have available during a power outage will impact how long your generator can run.
  2. Fuel Capacity: The total fuel capacity of your generator determines how long it can operate before needing a refill.
  3. Power Usage: What you are trying to power in your home (the size of the load) affects the generator's runtime.
  4. Setup Type: Whether your setup is 10A, 15A, 20A, or 32A depends on your appliance inlet socket and the capacity of your generator.

How Can Kenner Electrics Help?

Ready to bid farewell to power disruptions and embrace the convenience of backup generator power? 

As experienced electricians, the team at Kenner Electrics has you covered with professional installations designed to optimise safety, efficiency and hassle-free performance.

While running an extension cord directly from your generator to an appliance is possible, this method limits you to power a single appliance at a time. Kenner Electrics advises against using power boards to run multiple appliances from your generator, as this can create safety issues, and loose cables running throughout your home pose a tripping hazard.

A more robust and safer option involves installing a permanent appliance inlet socket at your home. Here's a quick overview of the key components:

  • Appliance Inlet Socket: This specialised power outlet, which resembles the male end of an extension cord with the pins sticking out, is installed externally in an accessible position. Think of it as the business end where you'll plug in your generator.
  • Double-Pole Changeover Switch: Mounted inside your switchboard, this switch lets you safely flip between grid and backup power sources like generators. It has three positions: UP for connection to the electricity grid, MIDDLE for off, and DOWN for the secondary power connection (generator). It must be installed in your main switchboard, not a sub-board.
    • The changeover switch connects your generator to the power and lighting circuits of your home. It’s then up to you to manage your power usage to make sure that you stay within the load capacity of your generator.
    • If you want to make sure that no one turns on high-powered appliances while you’re using generator power, you can always turn off dedicated circuits in your switchboard, like the air-conditioning circuit or any pool pumps. Kenner Electrics can reconfigure your switchboard to ensure all your essential circuits are well-labelled.
    • If you have 3-phase power, Kenner Electrics can also reconfigure your circuits so that all your essential appliances are in the same phase so that the generator can power them at the same time. We recommend switching off any 3-phase circuits when using backup power.
  • Circuit Protection: Overcurrent and safety switches protect the wiring on the appliance inlet circuit from overload and/or electrical shock hazards. 

It is crucial that this installation is carried out by a licensed electrician like Kenner Electrics. Professional installation ensures that all components work correctly and safely for a safe and effective backup generator setup.

At Kenner Electrics, we will help you determine the best setup for your needs, ensuring a safe and efficient generator installation tailored to your home.

Backup Generators: A Reliable Power Outage Solution

Home backup generators are a reliable solution for homeowners who want to keep their homes powered during outages. By using a generator, you can ensure that essential appliances keep running and stay comfortable even when the grid is down. Although there are some limitations, the benefits—such as cost savings, portability, and reliability—are clear.

At Kenner Electrics, we’re dedicated to helping you maximise the benefits of home backup generators. Our team of licensed electricians is equipped to install essential components such as changeover switches and appliance inlet sockets, ensuring your generator setup is both safe and efficient.

Experience the peace of mind that comes with having a reliable backup power solution. Reach out to us today to find out how we can assist you in incorporating generator technology into your home.

Why Choose Kenner Electrics?

Kenner Electrics is your trusted local electrician. We have a friendly and professional team of highly qualified, experienced and licensed electricians ready to handle all your commercial and residential electrical needs.

We provide up-front pricing with a clear explanation of the work required to avoid cost overruns. We provide prompt and efficient service and prioritise safety on each and every job. We are fully insured, licensed and accredited, we're a member of the National Electrical & Communications Association, and we are a registered electrical contractor with Energy Safe Victoria. We always provide compliance certificates for all completed electrical installation work.

We're one of the top rated electricians in Melbourne with over 300 genuine 5-star reviews from residential and business customers just like you.

Call our friendly team on (03) 9996 0663 or contact us online now.

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