When Old Man Winter arrives, he typically settles in and overstays his welcome. Unless you live in a tropical paradise, you’ll have to deal with the realities of snow, ice and below-zero temperatures. One way survivalists can prepare for outages in this weather is to secure a generator.
That said, you have to consider several factors before buying one from a dealer. Here’s your checklist for choosing the right generator this winter.
First, you must determine the generator you need for the cold months. Requirements will vary among homeowners, so figuring out your power level is essential in the research phase. Here are the primary types of generators you’ll see on the market:
– Portable: Portable generators are entry-level backup machines you can have on your property. They stay outside your home due to the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. This choice is ideal if you have a small budget and don’t need much power. Portable generators typically need at least 10 kilowatts to power a house for a few hours if the power grid isn’t available.
– Inverter: Inverters are another option for homeowners. These generators are an upgrade because they provide direct current (DC) energy instead of an alternating current. Therefore, your generator has cleaner power funneling through.
– Standby: Standby generators are the most powerful you can have on your property. It’s a backup power system that will provide your entire home with energy. This may be the best option if you anticipate frequent outages due to winter weather.
Your generator’s performance is crucial any time of year, but it matters even more once winter arrives. Blizzards and snowstorms compromise power systems by bringing down lines, destroying transformers, and knocking out energy for days and weeks. Last December, winter storms left 2 million Americans without power, emphasizing the need for strong winter generators.
When the worst storms arrive, your generator needs solid cold start abilities. Frigid temperatures make cranking up the unit more challenging, so it’s best when these machines can preheat themselves. Some have electric starters as a helpful tool, so look for these or cold weather kits.
Most generators run on fuel, so it’s crucial to consider what type you want yours to use. Generators provide off-grid survivalists with ample power in a short amount of time. There are a few options on the market, each with pros and cons.
Gasoline is a solid choice because it’s widely available and affordable during the winter. Plus, you can use fuel stabilizers to keep your gasoline fresh for at least two years and maintain its chemical integrity. The downside of gasoline is it produces more emissions than any other fuel source. Consider diesel if you want to increase efficiency — though it also has a shelf life.
Natural gas is your top option for efficiency. It has some emissions but far fewer than the other fuel sources. The primary disadvantage of natural gas is it’s expensive to install lines on your property if they aren’t already available. Also, the flammability brings concerns because it is odorless and invisible. Therefore, anticipating fires is much more challenging.
Survivalists should consider a propane gas generator if natural gas is unavailable. This fuel source is easy to store on your property and readily available should you need it during a winter storm. Plus, propane doesn’t expire like gasoline or diesel, making it ideal if you don’t plan to use the generator often. The main drawback is lower power output than gasoline units.
Price is a significant factor for survivalists, considering the range is wide for generators. Freezing climates may require purchasing a liquid propane or natural gas model. These machines start at around $2,200 but can easily exceed $21,000 if you desire the largest sizes. Gas-powered generators are smaller and more affordable, with the highest price tag at around $3,200. Diesel is typically the most expensive, with some units reaching $24,000.
After deciding your fuel type and price range, the next step is to choose between new and used generators. New ones cost 30% to 70% more than pre-owned generators of the same make and model. Buying a new generator is advantageous because you get the product directly from the manufacturer without worrying about wear and tear. However, used options can be terrific for tight budgets if the seller ensures the refurbished machine is in good condition.
Generators are crucial for getting through the winter and keeping your family safe. However, these machines come with their own safety concerns due to their electricity and fuel usage. Staying warm poses risks like CO poisoning, so it’s something to be aware of when selecting your generator.
Check out your generator’s specifications and features regarding safety. Some machines have built-in technology to power down if they detect heavy CO concentrations in your home. Pair your generators with detectors around the house to ensure your family’s safety all winter. CO poisoning sends 100,000 people to the emergency room annually, so it’s worth being vigilant.
Heating your home all winter is a must to protect yourself and your loved ones. The power grid can fail, so survivalists use generators to compensate during outages. Use this checklist to find the best type for your needs this winter.
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