Emergency generators are appliances which provide an electrical fallback for a home power grid downed by mechanical failures or weather conditions. Such auxiliary power may be a simple personal convenience such as keeping the lights on to ward off boredom or staying warm on a snowy night. However, it may be a medical necessity in many situations, as in the case of individuals making use of respirators and similar equipment.
Most modern lifestyles are extremely oriented around electrical use. In certain parts of the country, a household deprived of electricity will suffer many thousands of dollars in damages due to frozen pipes or food spoilage. An electric failure can also bring down one's security system in urban areas or well pumps in rural areas. For all these reasons, a backup supply of power is often a wise precaution in which for a homeowner to invest.
Generators are either powered by fuel (engine generators) or batteries (inverters). An engine-based generator is usually run by gasoline, and often diesel or propane as well. They typically produce a maximum output of 5,000 watts, sufficient to run lighting, ordinary household appliances, refrigerators, furnace fans, and well pumps; or, if the entire output is dedicated to the purpose, a single water heater.
Operating a heat pump or air conditioning will require considerably more power, and as the prices of generators producing over 5,000 watts tend to increase exponentially, running such systems is often not cost-effective. Engine generators commonly require one gallon of gas for two hours of mid-range electrical production, approximately 1,000 watts, and a standard generator can hold five gallons of gas. They are thus suitable for all but the longest-lasting electrical grid emergencies.
For further information on emergency generators for the home see the following article from HomeDoctor.net: Residential Emergency Generators.
Downsides to Engine Generators
There are numerous downsides to engine generators: they tend to be quite noisy, their engines require frequent maintenance just as an automobile engine does, and they necessitate a steady rotation of fuel purchases, as it is extremely difficult to effectively store gasoline for periods longer than thirty days without special chemicals.
Gas-powered generators are also extremely dangerous if used in contained areas-like other engines, they produce harmful wastes such as carbon monoxide which can coalesce in a basement or garage and present serious health risks.
An Inverter As An Alternative to an Engine Generator?
The alternative to an engine generator is an inverter. Inverters are small mechanisms which transfer electrical power from a car battery or other external source of power into the home. Inverters are far less powerful than engine generators, able to process a steady flow of around 200 watts each, though the total amount of incoming wattage can theoretically be bolstered by purchasing numerous inverters and sources by which to power them.
A single inverter's output is sufficient to run a light bulb, fan, or a simple appliance such as a black and white television or radio. Though far less efficient than engine generators, inverters are silent, cheap, and generate no harmful gases.