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Do you need a generator?

Byrd Electric Service understands that electrical power outages are unavoidable and increasing in both frequency and duration. Nearly 60 percent of all blackouts are caused by violent storms, but 34 percent are caused by equipment failure due to the nation’s aging and overloaded electrical grid. So what’s a homeowner to do?

One increasingly popular option is to purchase a stand by generator, also known as a whole-house generator. These power-producing machines are your own personal electrical power source. Within seconds of a blackout, a standby generator will automatically kick on to power your home’s electrical circuits.

However, Byrd Electric Service understands standby generators aren’t cheap and whether you should buy one or not isn’t an easy decision. Here, I’ll provide some detailed facts and figures, so you can decide if a standby generator is right for your home and family.

To a certain extent, whether or not you need a standby generator is strictly personal. To some, being inconvenienced by even a single blackout warrants getting a generator. But more often, need is determined by the likelihood of a power outage. If you live in an area with frequent (more than three times a year) or lengthy (more than several hours) blackouts, then a standby generator becomes more of a necessity than a simple convenience.

The need for a generator can also depend on your geographical location. If you live in Ellijay, Jasper, Blue Ridge, Canton, Lake Arrowhead, Coosawattee, Bent Tree, Big Canoe are anywhere in North Georgia, it is a good idea to have a generator.

Generators come in lots of different sizes, and can be powered by either natural gas or liquid propane (LP). A common practice is to get the largest unit available to power the entire house. And that’s certainly one option. Then you can live life as if the power was never out in the first place. Byrd Electric Service recommends this option.

But a more sensible—and affordable—approach is to buy a generator sized to power your home’s most essential electrical circuits, such as those connected to the furnace, kitchen appliances, well pump, water heater, security system, garage-door opener, and a few lights and outlets. These installations are often referred to as “partial-house generators.”

House size is just one criterion for selecting a standby generator. The complexity of the home’s electrical system also plays a key role, especially if it has central air conditioning. So, sizing generators isn’t as simple as saying, “If your home has this many sq. ft., then you must get this size generator.” It’s slightly more complex than that, and an experienced electrician will calculate your home’s anticipated electrical loads and recommend the right size generator.

Standby generators are sized by kilowatts (kW), which is a unit of power. One kilowatt equals 1,000 watts. Therefore, a 22kW generator produces 22 kilowatts—or 22,000 watts—of electrical power. Each generator must also be matched to an automatic transfer switch (ATS), which serves as the brains of the standby-power system and tells the generator when to kick on and turn off. Again, the electrician will provide guidance here, but typically if the generator is connected to a 200-amp breaker panel, then a 200-amp ATS is required.

Ultimately the generator size will be based on the total running watts and starting KVA of all the circuits, appliances and mechanical systems connected to the generator. KVA is simply 1,000 volt-amps; a volt is electrical pressure, an amp is electrical current. Both of these numbers must be calculated: running watts represent the power consumed by an electrical motor while running normally, and starting KVA is required because each time an electrical motor starts up, there’s an extra electrical surge that the generator must be able to handle.

Of course, if you have questions, you can call Byrd Electric Service at 706-253-3996 in North Georgia. We will answer your questions and steer you in the right direction.

Once the standby electrical circuits have been identified, the electrician will add up all the running watts and starting KVA to project the total electrical load for the entire system. At that point, the proper-size generator can be determined Cities often have noise ordinances restricting the installation of generators. A machine may be rated at 62 decibels, but that's often measured at 25 feet. (Most cities in North Georgia do not have noise ordinances. You find these type of ordinances usually in big cities)

What does that sound like? Imagine a neighbor idling a Harley—tolerable in a rural environment but unacceptable in a tight city lot. Additionally, most building codes require generators to be at least 5 feet from a house opening and 5 feet from flammable materials, making urban installations tricky. Fuel-tank placement is almost always restricted, especially near parking lots and schools.

Also, generators need TLC like most complicated machines. Like cars, standby generators run nonstop for many hours, so they have to be maintained as if they were, well, cars. Generally, bigger units require more care.

Byrd Electric Service recommends having the oil changed after the first 48 hours of run time and then have it serviced no less than once per year. Byrd Electric Service only charges $295.00 for an annual generator service. If you are inclined, you can service it your self and save a few bucks.

Your generator will stay healthy through a lifetime of outages if you check the engine oil daily during use, run it at no more than 75 percent of its rated capacity, replace overworked or deformed motor brushes, and avoid starting or stopping it under load whenever possible.

How much does a generator from Byrd Electric Service in North Georgia cost? We don't sell generators. We recommend you call Home Depot in Jasper Georgia and ask for Robin. Please ask for Robin. She is the generator expert at the Jasper Home Depot. Tell her Byrd Electric Service sent you. Order your new Generac generator from Robin at Jasper Home Depot. 706-301-5615. Once ordered, call Byrd Electric Service to schedule installation. We offer a service like no other. We will pick up the generator from Home Depot for you. Install it professionally and answer all your questions. The cost will vary based on the generator purchased, but the the install will cost between $1500 and $2500 usually.

Call Byrd Electric Service today to schedule your generator installation. 706-253-3996

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