4 Types of Generators Ottawa Homeowners Should Know

Power outages are generally caused by extreme weather such as lightning, ice storms or strong winds, all of which will be familiar to any Ottawa homeowner. For the cautious among us, occasional blackouts are reason enough to invest in a generator, but for some households, especially those with electric medical devices or mobility devices, a generator is an essential appliance rather than just a convenience.

What is a generator and how does it work?

Generators use fuel sources like gasoline, natural gas or propane to produce electricity to power your home even when the grid fails. They can be used to charge mobile devices, keep the furnace running or even power the entire home. There are many different types of generators depending on the needs of your home and your family. Below we outline the most common generators used in Ottawa homes.  

Breaker in Basement

Portable generators:

This type of generator is powered by gasoline and requires the homeowner to manually turn it on. This means that you need to be home to fire it up, unlike standby generators which start automatically. You will also need to ensure you have gasoline on hand to power the generator.

  • The simplest type of portable generator has plugs on the body of the generator where you can plug in a very limited number of things. 
  • The more advanced type of portable generator must be installed by an electrician. A plug outside your home leads to a secondary electrical panel and can power a small number of circuits from your panel.
Portable Generator

Standby generators:

This type of generator does not require the homeowner to start up, instead they are connected to your panel by an electrician and kick on automatically when the power grid fails. They are powered by natural gas or propane, meaning they’re unlikely to run out of fuel. 

  • Partial load generators can power only select circuits in your home. Generally, you would choose the most critical appliances such as the furnace, hot water heater, sump pump and maybe even the modem and Wi-Fi router. They don’t have the capacity to run your entire home’s electrical load, but keep the most critical aspects of your home up and running. 
  • Whole-house generators are set up to power everything in your home when the power grid fails. This is an especially popular option with rural homeowners since the electrical grids can be unstable in such areas.
Whole-house generator

What size generator will run a home? 

Partial load generators often have a capacity of between 5 and 8 Kilowatts this is enough to power essential appliances such as the furnace, hot water heater, etc. Whereas whole-house generators will generally have a capacity of between 10 and 24 Kilowatts which will be enough to power all the electrical needs of the home. 

Is it worth getting a whole-house generator?

While a whole-house generator costs more than a portable generator or a partial load generator, it also offers the ultimate peace of mind that your home will run as normal even in a power outage and without any intervention. Whole home generators can also protect your home from damage by preventing the freezing of pipes, stopping food from spoiling in your fridge or freezer, and ensuring the sump pump is working to prevent floods. 

If you’re interested in getting a standby generator installed you will need to hire both a licensed gas technician as well as a licensed electrician to get the job done. At Francis Plumbing Heating & Cooling we partner with professional electricians so that we can provide this service for one unified price and simplify the process for the homeowner. Call us today to protect your biggest investment.