How do Backup Generators work?

Power outage is common around the world. But places that are prone to storms and heavy rain, see more power outages. It can be from one hour to several weeks. In such cases, a backup generator or standby generator comes into the picture.

What is a standby generator or backup generator?

A backup generator is a machine which supplies power in the event of an outage. It is also known as a standby generator. It comes with different sizes and ratings depending upon the type of applications. It can serve loads of a house, shops, hospitals or any business. It also comes with different fuel source options such as propane, gas, diesel, etc. One can have such generators depending upon the availability of fuel in their region.

Backup generator vs Portable generator

Many people think backup generators are the same as portable generators or both are the same. But this is not true. The backup generators are permanently fixed units, unlike the portable generator which you can move from one place to another.

How does a backup generator work?

As told earlier, the backup generator or standby generator is fixed permanently. This generator is connected with the home or shop wiring all-time by a transfer switch. This transfer switch monitors the building electricity connection to the local power supply from the utility.

This transfer switch can be automatic or manual. It continuously monitors the availability of power supply from the utility. In case of a power outage, this transfer switch activates and starts the generator to deliver the backup power to the home or shop loads. The generator continues to run until utility power is restored.

The automatic transfer switch automatically senses the power outage without any human intervention whereas, in a manual transfer switch, a human needs to connect the backup generator to the house or shop load.

How long can you run a backup generator?

It depends upon the generator model type of different manufacturers. But most of the generator manufacturers limit the use of backup generators to 2-3 weeks continuous run. Yes, you can run a standby generator continuously for up to 2-3 weeks (check your generator model manual).

What does a backup generator run on?

Generally, a backup generator is run on diesel, propane, or natural gas.

Standby generator Types

There are two types of standby generator classified on the basis of fuel used.

  1. Diesel Standby generator
  2. Gas Standby generator

Diesel Standby generator

As the name implies, this generator uses diesel as a fuel. These generators are having long-life and require less maintenance. On the other hand, this requires fuel refills regularly. These diesel standby generators create noise and are louder than the gas standby generator.

Gas Standby generator

This generator uses natural gas or propane as fuel. These generators need a continuous supply of gas. Hence these generators are connected to the gas line for generating continuous power. Gas generators are used with caution as mishandling of fuel can cause disaster. These generators are having a shorter life span as compared to diesel standby generators.

Why do you need a standby generator?

You may be a house owner or a business owner or a hospital owner. Everyone wants a continuous power supply so that there is no interruption in their work.

In the case of the house owner, a long power outage may cause refrigerator items to spoil. There will be an effect on the daily routines of a housewife. For hospitals, a long outage can cause operations to halt. This can also lead to a patient’s death. Some medicines require a low temperature to store. Due to the unavailability of power, refrigerators may not work. Similarly, businesses are also affected severely. Hence it is necessary to install a standby generator if you have longer power outages in your area.

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