After the significant power outages last week across much of Muskoka many people are considering a generator to protect their homes during these events. So if that is you, here are some pointers on how to go about it.
Step one is deciding on the type of generator to install – manual or automatic.
A manual generator system requires you to physically make the connection between the generator and the electrical system of your home. There are generally two ways to do this.
The first is by installing a generator essential circuits panel beside your existing home panel. This panel will likely have some specific circuits on it like the ones that operate your essential systems like your sump pump, fridge and freezer, heat and perhaps television and microwave. It will not typically operate your entire household. When the power is out you switch the main panel over to the essential panel and then turn on the generator and those specific circuits will have hydro.
The second way is to install a Generlink which is easily installed outside your home at the hydro meter base. When the power is out you plug the generator into the Generlink and your entire system in the home will have power. However, as most generators will not generate sufficient electricity to supply your whole household at once, you need to be very conscious of what you have turned on in your home. During an outage it is wise to turn off things (right at the panel) that you don’t really need that draw a lot of electricity. A good example is the hot water tank.
When hydro is restored an LED on the Generlink will light up. Now you can unplug the generator and get back to business.
Just like it sounds an automatic generator system takes all the guess work out of things. When the power fails the generator senses no power and starts up. The generator has an automatic transfer switch (ATS) which switches to generator power and, depending on the system, either the whole home is on the generator system like it would with the Generlink; or an essential circuits panel will be powered by the generator. When power is restored, the generator senses power is back on and turns off.
How Do You Decide?
Well as you would expect a manual generator system is less expensive, but requires you to do a little work to get things back up and running. If you are a full time resident this is not likely a problem and so it is a great option for you.
The automatic generator system is definitely more expensive but does not require any work by the homeowner. This is an ideal system if you work away from home or are away for longer periods of time; or if you own a cottage with only weekend use.
Generators need to be worked on by Generator Technicians. If a generator system fails due to an electronic or engine issue, a generator technician needs to be called in to troubleshoot the problem. The generator also needs annual maintenance by a certified generator technician.
Remember, whatever system you choose it must be inspected. This is a system that is directly connected to your electrical panel and not a job to be taken lightly. A reputable electrical contractor will take out a permit with the Electrical Safety Authority www.esasafe.com and gladly show you the Certificate of Inspection.
If you are new to the area and do not yet have a good contact or recommendation for an electrician, please do not hesitate to call me. I am always happy to share my experience with you.