Emergency Power Supply
How Emergency Power Systems Work
Power outages can be a real problem for homeowners.
A wide variety of natural disasters can cause long-term power outages. Things like tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, lightning, ice storms and blizzards can take out the power for hours or days at a time. Even something as simple as a blown transformer or a car running into a utility pole can knock out the electricity in an entire neighbourhood for a day or two.
We are all dependent on electricity, so a power outage of more than a few minutes becomes pretty annoying. As the duration of a power failure stretches beyond an hour, there are more severe problems that can cause things to get expensive or dangerous:
During the winter, a power failure normally disables your home’s heating system. As the house cools (depending on where you live), it can become uninhabitable. In addition, frozen pipes can cause thousands of dollars in damage.
Understanding Your Power Needs
If you’re looking to choose an emergency power source for your home, you need to understand how much power it will need. The basic unit of power measurement is the watt, and with an emergency power source, there are two wattage ratings that are important: steady-state wattage and surge wattage. A normal 60-watt incandescent light bulb requires, as you would expect, 60 watts, and it requires that wattage both when you turn it on and while it is running. A ceiling fan motor, on the other hand, might require 150 watts to get started and 75 watts while it is running. That extra wattage to start the motor is called the surge wattage and is typical of anything that contains an electric motor.
For a small home, you may need around 1,000 watts of continuous power and 1,500 watts of the surge.
For a medium-sized home, you may need around 5,000 watts of continuous power and 6,500 watts of the surge.
For a large home, you may need around 10,000 watts of continuous power and 12,500 watts of the surge.
Important points that you need to know
In the event of a power outage, it’s important to have a generator ready to go. If you don’t already have one, you’ll need to purchase it and have it installed by an electrician.
To calculate your power needs, add up the normal and surge wattage figures for all of the devices you want to operate simultaneously. In this example, we’re going to use a small TV and two 60-watt light bulbs as an example:
If you plan to operate a small TV and two 60-watt light bulbs, then you need an emergency power supply that has a capacity of at least 220 watts and a surge capacity of 270 watts. Rounding up, that’s 250 watts continuous and 300 watts Have an electrician wire the generator in for you. It will cost $200 to $400 for a simple system.
Be sure to ground your generator as described in the owner’s manual. You can connect the generator’s chassis ground to your home’s grounding rod, or buy an 8-foot grounding rod at the hardware store for $12 and install it.