A home generator is a valuable piece of equipment ignored by most people until a power failure occurs. Blackouts can be very stressful, and, as a result, more people are investing in generators to provide comfort and convenience for their loved ones. Sometimes a storm can knock down a transmission line, causing downtime that may take a more extended period to fix.
During such emergencies, a home generator can provide backup energy. It’s also a worthy investment for people living in extremely cold or hot regions. A power outage in such areas can shut down heaters and air conditioners, causing some detrimental effects. Here is some basic information about home generators to help you make the best decision.
1. Types of Generators
Depending on your needs, you can choose from either of the two types of generators available. The portable generators run on gas or diesel to provide temporary electricity. They can power smaller appliances like stoves, refrigerators, and lighting fixtures around your house. This option best suits people with a limited budget, but it isn’t the right solution to run high-wattage systems like an HVAC unit. It’s also a good idea that you run portable generators outside to prevent fumes from accumulating in your house.
On the other hand, standby generators are great options if you have larger appliances. This type of generator contains an automatic transfer switch that commands the device to turn on once you experience a power outage. You can connect the standby generator to a natural gas line or to a propane tank so you won’t have to keep refueling.
These generators are quieter, and you can even have them installed permanently on your property. They can power your heating or air conditioning systems, along with other household appliances. However, the purchasing and installation costs are relatively higher than those of portable generators.
The standby generator also requires constant maintenance, especially if you run it often. This is an ideal option for people living in areas that experience hurricanes or those with electrically powered medical devices that require a constant power supply.
2. How Does a Home Generator Work?
Generators work by converting mechanical or chemical energy into electric currents. This conversion uses up the supplied fuel to move electric charges in the wires of its windings. The generator contains a conductor coil rotated rapidly between horseshoe magnet poles. During the rotation, the coil cuts through the magnetic fields lying between the two poles of the magnet. This interferes with the electrons in the conductor, which induces the flow of currents. After the electrical currents are established, they flow through copper wires to power devices, machines, and other electrical systems.
While some generator systems require manual transfers, others depend on the automatic transfer system. For the standby generators, the automatic transfer switch shuts off your electric supply from the main utility lines in case of a power outage. It then kick-starts the generator and transfers the produced energy into the electrical panel. The transition from regular electric power to the generator system happens almost instantaneously.
Once your utility suppliers restore the power, the transfer switch will automatically shut off the generator and connect the house to the utility grid. Portable generators don’t start on their own, and in case of a power failure, you will have to start your generator manually.
3. Main Components of a Generator
The generator has various parts that work together to generate power and to get it to the necessary electric systems in your house. The engine supplies energy to the generator, and its size determines the amount of electricity produced. An alternator turns the engine’s mechanical input into usable electricity. It connects to the engine via a belt, and as the engine moves, the belt turns and rotates the rotor shaft to create electric currents.
The fuel system contains a tank, a pump, and a pipe that connects to the engine to provide the fuel that keeps the generator in operation. A voltage regulator controls the electricity output of the generator. It also helps convert alternating current voltage (AC) into a direct client (DC). While in operation, the generator creates a lot of heat. The cooling and exhaust system helps draw out the heat produced to protect the machine from overheating.
A generator also contains several moving parts that require lubrication for smooth operations. Therefore, the lubricating system stores oil to protect other components from friction that can cause excess wear. The battery charger is an automatic compartment that keeps the batteries ready to start the generator.
The control panel allows the generator to monitor various systems. They can detect power dips to start or to shut off the generator. Control panels also monitor the generator while in operation and indicate various parameters, such as battery voltage, oil pressure, operation duration, and coolant temperature. The frame is the generator’s body that holds all the internal components and that enables earthing for safety purposes.
4. How to Maintain Your Home Generator
A generator can last for decades when properly maintained. Always read through the manufacturer’s manual to know essential details about the upkeep of your generator. Also, change the oil often, preferably after 50 hours of operation. Change the oil more regularly if you have an older generator or if you reside in environments with dust or other contaminants that can mix with the oil.
Since generators act as backup plans in most households, they might go unused for an extended period. Start your generator at least once a week to ensure that it works. Keep the parts lubricated, and change the batteries, too. Clear off any debris or plants growing near your generator to discourage pests or rodents from trying to make a home in your generator system.
Seek professional generator cleaning services to prevent grime buildup on the moving components because buildup can lower the efficiency of energy production. During preventative maintenance, an expert will also change the oil filters, flush the cooling system, inspect cables and wiring, and replace the spark plugs to ensure that your generator operates at optimum capacity. Store the generator in a dry place to avoid rusting and to extend its lifespan. You can use generator tents, sheds, or covers.
Power outages can create significant inconveniences. If you work from home, going without electricity can affect your productivity. A generator helps make such situations more bearable. Also, invest in a generator if you have a well or sump pump. Without electricity, your well’s pump and filtration system can’t provide fresh water, and you can lose your sump pump’s ability to protect your house from water damage in case of heavy rains. Once you have a generator, you should understand how various components work to give your machine the required care. Have a professional determine the correct size of generator that suits your household’s needs and install it.
If you have any other electricity-related problems, you can always reach out to Christian Brothers Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical. We deal with outdoor lighting, electrical repairs, outlet switch installations, wiring, and breaker fuse repairs. Our company also offers AC and heating system installation, repair, maintenance, and plumbing services. You can access our services if you reside in Phoenix, AZ, and the surrounding area. Contact us now, and book an appointment to try any of our services.