When choosing a generator, pick one that can effectively handle your specific power needs. “People who need generators can be divided into three tiers,” says Steve Dollens, owner of Dollens Electric Corp in San Jose. “The first tier consists of those who experience frequent power outages. Generally, that’s related to altitude. As you go up into the hills, the power becomes less reliable because there are more trees that take out power lines during storms. The second tier consists of those who want to have power during a natural disaster. The third tier is comprised of senior citizens and others that require uninterrupted power to run medical equipment. They’re the most sensitive to power outages, but they don’t need high-capacity systems.”
After deciding what tier you belong to, Mr. Dollens recommends hiring an electrical contractor who can determine your needs and propose a system that meets them. “For example, a back-up generator will keep your refrigerator cold if the power goes out, but it won’t power your entire house. You need to make sure your generator system can meet your specific power requirements.”
Even if you don’t use your home generator on a regular basis, it’s still important to keep a regular maintenance schedule—in case of an emergency, you’ll want the generator operating at its peak potential. Here are some general maintenance tips:
Since a generator works similarly to a car engine, it’s necessary to check the oil from time to time. The best time to do this is at the start of every winter and summer. Also, don’t forget to change the oil and air filters at least once a year.
Belts only need to be replaced every couple of years, but it’s a good idea to regularly inspect them for any dryness, wear or cracking. If the belts aren’t in good working condition, they can overheat the generator or make the equipment function inefficiently.
Drain the radiator’s antifreeze and replace it with new fluid once a year. If antifreeze stays in the radiator too long, it can deteriorate the generator and eventually lessen the lifespan of the equipment.
No matter where you’re keeping your home generator, make sure the area around it is as clean as possible. Also, trim any weeds that grow around the equipment.
Different manufacturers suggest different maintenance tips for their products. Consult the manual that comes with your generator to check for more maintenance activities. Follow the tips closely to ensure maximum performance.
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To be more secure about your home generator’s performance, have it checked by a professional once a year. This will help ensure all the parts are in safe working condition and the generator is ready to use at any moment.