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The Different Types of Generators

Generator Connection

As portable generators become more popular, the available options increase as well. Today you have the choice of a conventional generator or an inverter based model, the choice of how you want it connected to your house, and how it will start. You even have the choice of 4 different readily available fuels.

First, let’s talk about generator types. There are two basic choices you have, a conventional generator or an inverter based generator. A conventional generator has to spin at a certain speed in order to produce the correct frequency, this speed is usually 3,600 RPMs which is relatively fast and leads to a lot of noise and fuel consumption. An inverter based generator uses inverter technology to regulate voltage and frequency, so the generator can spin at a much lower speed, significantly reducing the noise and fuel consumption while also producing cleaner power for sensitive electronics. The downside to inverter generators is the price, they usually cost 1.5 to 3 times more than a standard generator.

Next, let’s talk about how you connect it to your house and how it is started. Small, portable generators are most commonly connected via an inlet and transfer switch or interlock system, this is called a portable generator connection. This allows you to use a low cost generator that you can use for other purposes as well. A portable generator connected this way is usually considered temporary, it is something you would only connect during an outage, afterwards you would disconnect the generator and roll it back into the garage. Next we have permanently installed generators. These are physically larger and usually more powerful, they are built into an outdoor enclosure that looks similar to a central air conditioning unit. This type of generator is hard wired into your house so there is nothing to put together or connect when the power goes out, you would just start the generator and switch the manual transfer switch over to generator power. You also have the option of an automatic standby generator connection which does everything for you, from starting the generator to transferring power, all done when the transfer equipment senses a power outage.

Finally, we have the choice in fuel. Typical generators run off of either gasoline or diesel. However, when choosing a generator you have the option of natural gas or propane as well. You can purchase adapter kits for most generators sold today, typically called “tri-fuel” kits since they allow you to run a gasoline generator on natural gas or propane as well. This is not only more convenient, but safer. Not having to store volatile gasoline or refill the generator during a disaster makes the entire operation easier and safer for everyone involved. Who wants to go out and wait on line for gasoline anyway? If you were effected by Sandy, you’ll know exactly what I mean…

Call Ampacity Electric today for any questions about generators.

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