One of the most easily overlooked problem areas in any large residential or commercial installation is backup power. Many integrators are not accustomed to dealing with backup power systems, but they can provide both stability and safety for their clients while adding another revenue stream dealers.
Many areas of the country experience regular power outages. These can be caused by a wide variety of issues from thunderstorms in the Southeast, blizzards in the Northeast, and earthquakes on the West Coast. But regardless of the circumstances, having a reliable backup power source provides homeowners with some or all of the conveniences of home even when everyone else in their area is without.
Finding a Suitable Generator
Selecting the best generator for your clients particular needs starts with determining how much power all of their household equipment consumes on a regular basis. Then you need to determine startup requirements based on each particular appliances needs.
Once you’ve established a baseline for this, you can begin to assess which unit will be best suited to their particular circumstances.
Since they are investing a substantial amount of money in these systems, most homeowners tend to go for units that can power just about everything in their home. This typically includes audio video systems, lighting control systems, and any other home automation equipment they might deem necessary for day to day existence.
Generators come with a wide range of power options. Anything from 10,000W to 30,000W and higher are available for both residential and commercial applications. Using the calculations of overall power requirements you can determine how much your client will need and then make a recommendation based on those numbers.
While there are huge differences in price between various generators they all work on basically the same principle and design. They are essentially an engine that is connected to a alternator. Most of these engines run at a constant 3600RPM and ramp up to meet demand. This goes for home or portable generators. In fact many of the best portable generators utilize inverter technologies that allow them to stabilize the line voltage even further. This makes them safe to use on sensitive electronic devices like laptops, cell phones and tablets.
Standby generators operate on a variety of fuels and each has it’s pros and cons.
The most popular is liquid propane. This is stored in a large tank that is either buried in the ground near the generator or above ground. They range in size from 20 gallons to 1000+ gallons. These can supply power to a large or medium sized house for weeks at a time depending on the load.
The next most popular is natural gas. The biggest advantage natural gas has is that once connected to the gas company you have an unlimited supply without having to get it refilled. This fuel source is ideal in the Southeast where power can easily be disrupted by storms, but gas lines will not.
Natural gas is NOT a good solution in areas like California that are prone to earthquakes. This will cause a disruption in your service and your power. In earthquake prone areas it’s better to have liquid propane or diesel as a fuel source.
Diesel is another option but also requires on-site storage. Some units can run on both gasoline and natural gas or liquid propane. This offers flexibility in situations where power is critical.