As we become ever more reliant on electrical and electronic devices the need for reliable electric power increases. While urban power outages tend to be brief, typically lasting only a few hours, major storms or disasters can bring interruptions of several days…or more. And in Colorado’s foothills and high country, extended outages can last even longer.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to have a reliable source of backup electricity.
Let’s look at some options.
Backup batteries, both integrated and standalone, can be an option for your computer or Wi-Fi network for relatively short periods of low wattage demand. Backup batteries for computers have been around for some time and can be used for Wi-Fi networks as well. Typically, these backup units are plugged into your household current and store energy continuously. They have multiple outlets to plug in your components and pass current to them directly unless they detect an outage. Then they use their battery storage to power your devices…until their charge runs out. That time varies depending on their capacity and the amount of power your components draw.
There are also high-capacity storage batteries similar to those on solar systems that are trickle-charged and store energy until it’s needed. They have built-in AC inverters to power household appliances and can be either wired into the household circuitry or portable for spot usage. Some portable units can be used on job sites, as well.
But when you have a big project to finish, a dark house full of bored kids, appliances that don’t work, or someone relying on electrical devices for home health care, a backup generator is a better solution.
Generators fall into two basic categories: portable and permanent. Choosing the best one for you is a balance between your needs and your budget. Here are some considerations:
- Gasoline-Powered Portable Generators—Portable gasoline-powered generators are the least expensive and come in a variety of outputs to meet different needs. Properly sized, operated, and maintained, they’re a good choice for occasional outages, are budget-friendly, and can be used (carefully) by homeowners. They also require the most work to set up, maintain, and operate and can be dangerous to use. If you’re considering a portable generator, read our article Backup Generator Benefits before buying. It has safety tips as well. Any generator that ties into the household electrical supply should be set up by a licensed electrical contractor. Improper connections can result in severe damage to your home’s circuitry, injury, and devastating house fires.
- Permanent Installations—Long the choice for commercial locations, a permanently installed generator has several advantages for homeowners too. Installed similarly to an air conditioning unit, they’re as close to a “set it and forget it system” as you can get. They’re normally connected to a natural gas or propane supply, so you don’t have to worry about storing potentially dangerous gasoline—or running out at the worst time. They have sophisticated controls and switches that automatically turn the unit on when an outage is detected. They also cycle the generator periodically to keep it in good working condition and notify you when it isn’t. They’re also the most expensive to buy and install but are a very reliable source of power for places where minimizing downtime is important or extended outages are possible. Talk to a licensed electrician about your options and costs.
Stay Safe and Comfortable with Professional Help
Choosing the right generator and using it safely requires a knowledge of electrical circuitry and codes. Don’t risk injury, shock, fire hazards, or expensive repairs by getting in over your head.
If you’re thinking about adding safe, reliable backup power or have any problems or concerns about your electrical service, the pros at Allstar Electrical Services are ready to help. We offer homeowners, builders, and businesses reliable, professional electrical work that is safe and up to code.
Call Allstar Electrical at 303.399.7420 or visit our website to set up an appointment or get a free estimate for your project. We’ve served Colorado’s Front Range for over 20 years and are an Angie’s Home Advisor certified contractor.