Standby Generators – Using Them More Efficiently
Standby generators can make power outages easy to deal with. It’s best to plan for their use to obtain efficient use of this resource.
Standby generators are great for providing power during electric outages. There are millions of people on the east coast who I imagine are wishing they had had one to support their lifestyle in the wake of the recent hurricane. As of this writing, there are plenty who are still without power, despite the army of utility workers and resources that have been thrown at the problem.
In many respects, electricity is essential for daily life. That makes a generator something to consider.
If you have a large investment that won’t tolerate a loss of electric power, a generator just might be essential….think freezers full of food, cows that need to be milked, baby chicks that need a heat lamp, and medical facilities with patients on life support.
For the average person, the need for a generator will vary, but when we have the need, it’s wise that we use it efficiently so we get the greatest return on our investment. Simply starting and running a generator for the duration of the outage doesn’t make any sense to me, regardless of how much fuel you might have on hand to operate it.
My suggestion for generator operation is to think in terms of “batches” so when you start up your generator, you can power multiple activities at the same time. I’d suggest that multiple tasks be completed while the generator is running, tasks like:
- Operating the forced air furnace or air conditioner
- Cooking food
- Indoor and outdoor lighting for work tasks
- Doing laundry
- Recharging batteries
- Pumping up well water storage tanks
One might run the generator for several hours a day, perhaps in the evening, and enjoy some light for recreational activities as well. The idea is to run the generator enough to get it up to operating temperature, get the most use out of the power generated, and yet keep fuel consumption within reason. Running it in the batch mode also makes for more peace and quiet, as some generators can make a bit of noise.
Have you thought about how you might manage the operation of a generator should the need arise?
Clair Schwan test operates his generator about every two weeks, just to make certain he’s ready for a power outage. He also plans to limit running times and the frequency of operation of his generator to conserve fuel, limit wear and tear on the machine, and keep noise to a minimum around the homestead.