A New Generation of Generators
While the biggest reason to own a residential generator may well be Mother Nature, another factor is the growing number of non-emergency electrical blackouts in the United States. According to research at the University of Minnesota, non-emergency outages affecting at least 50,000 customers increased fivefold in the past two decades. That's why many savvy homeowners — regardless of whether they live in a city or off the grid — are turning to the safety and convenience of propane generators to maintain their quality of life.
Whole-house power on tap
If you live in a storm-prone area, or just want the reassurance of never worrying about power loss, consider a propane standby generator. These quiet, rugged units are typically housed next to a garage, a carport, or a storage building and can be fueled by your home's main propane tank. When coupled with an automatic transfer switch, home standby generators can deliver up to 125 kilowatts of power within seconds after an outage takes place. Many whole-house generators also provide remote monitoring systems that can alert you to any potential operating problems.
Portable propane generators
Portable generators offer 10,000 watts or more of dependable power, which is enough to fuel an array of home systems, such as kitchen appliances, air conditioners, computers, and televisions. Today's selection of portable generators includes even smaller units. A good example is Generac’s new 3,250-watt portable generator, which was developed with funding from the Propane Education & Research Council. The Generac unit — designed for multiple uses, including lawn-care equipment, small home appliances, power tools, and emergency backup — is the first of a new line of innovative portable generators that have an integrated propane tank for increased mobility and easy refueling.
Combined heat and power
Advanced research in power systems has resulted in a new cogeneration technology called combined heat and power — also known as micro-CHP technology — in which heat from a liquid-cooled engine is circulated through an exchanger and used for supplemental home heating. At the same time, the engine drives a standby generator to deliver on-demand electrical power. These innovative propane-fueled units are more than 90 percent energy efficient.
Tips for generator installation and operation
If you're ready to purchase a propane generator for your home, consider the following tips:
- Choose professional installation. Some manufacturers of propane standby generators offer do-it-yourself installation options. But a better choice is to have an experienced contractor install gas-fueled equipment. To find a qualified propane installer in your area, get in touch with your nearest propane retailer.
- Do basic maintenance. Both portable and standby generators require periodic maintenance such as oil changes to ensure long-term reliability. If you choose to handle these routine procedures yourself, follow the specific instructions outlined in the owner's manual.