Electrical Generators and Home Security: What to Know

Make sure your home security system stays armed with a backup generator

Anyone living in a winter-weather state can tell you that when the power goes out having a backup generator can bring a huge sense of relief. A generator for home use keeps your appliances, heat and lights on when you’re without power. And if you have a home security system, generators also help with safety by keeping the system engaged no matter what.

People tend to shop for generators at Home Depot and other stores right before or after a storm when generators are in the highest demand. Products like Generac home generators help to keep your home safe and secure by making sure your home security system stays armed during a power outage, but there are several different types of generators to choose from. In this article, we look at the different generators out there and how to choose the right one for your space. 

What is a backup electrical generator and how does it work?

A generator is a machine that produces power when an outage occurs. A backup generator kicks in when the power is out, either automatically or with a switch, usually restoring electricity to your home within a few seconds. How it does this depends on the type of generator. 

Types of power generators

To determine the right generator for your home you need to understand the different types available. Generators vary by size, fuel used and how they operate. While the most common is a portable generator, a standby generator is best for when you want to keep your security system armed. Here are the different types of generators:

  • Portable generatorThese generators provide a temporary solution when the power goes out. Some use gas while others use diesel to provide electrical power. If you’re running the basics, like your refrigerator, freezer and television, this is an excellent choice. However, because of their fuel, these machines also have a high emission rate. Prices range between $140 for an 800-watt generator to $5,000 for a 10,500-watt generator.
  • Standby generatorstandby generator, also called a backup generator, doesn’t require a manual start. That means when the power goes out you don’t have to do anything because your electricity will restore automatically. Standby generators have a larger fuel tank compared to a gasoline-powered portable generator, so you can run them for longer. On the downside, the larger fuel tank makes these machines bulkier and more challenging to move. Prices range between $500 for a 7,000-watt standby generator and $13,000 for a 22,000-watt standby generator.
  • Inverter generatorAn inverter generator offers the same benefits as a portable generator, but they’re more efficient, lighter and quieter. As this generator runs, its engine speed varies according to electrical demand meaning that it produces less noise and uses less fuel than a standard standby generator. Prices range from $29 for a 200-watt inverter generator to $4,000 for a 7,000-watt inverter generator. Inverter generators are cheaper than standby generators because a standby generator turns on automatically and runs for several days without the need to refuel.
  • Portable power stationInstead of using fossil fuels to deliver power, a portable power station uses a rechargeable battery. They’re excellent for charging anything with a USB port. Because there are AC outlets, you can use them to power things like small appliances, small coolers and CPAP machines. Prices range from $38 for a 20-watt portable power generator to $12,000 for a 48,000-watt portable power station.

How to keep your security system armed in a power outage using a generator

When your power goes out that means there’s no electricity to run your security system. If you’re away from home, that’s problematic. Installing a standby generator restores power automatically. And while it may be tempting to pick up the most affordable generator, the goal should really be picking the generator that will do the best job keeping your security system armed.

For example, a standby generator with 20,000 watts or more should power everything you have under your roof, including your security system. If you would prefer to use a smaller portable or inverter generator, you’ll need at least 7,500 watts to keep your home security system, lights, refrigerator and chargers going. Your home security system alone will need at least 100-watts to maintain its ability to keep your home secure when you’re away.

A recreational inverter or midsize inverter that’s up to 2,000 watts will keep your refrigerator, lights, chargers and home security system activated. If your power is going to be out for an extended period, you can get away with using one of these machines for keeping the bare necessities running.

How to use a power generator safely

Whether you’re using Generac home generators or Home Depot generators, they all come with safety guidelines you must consider. Generators have safety features to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, injuries, fires and electrocution. 

Electrical generator safety tips

  • Use it safely: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid electrocution, fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure you’re using home generators correctly to avoid disaster.
  • Keep generators outside: Position generators away from structures on the outside of your home.
  • Keep generators dry: Otherwise, they aren’t safe to operate.
  • Disconnect your electricity: Before operating a portable generator, disconnect power going into your home to prevent power surging or back-feeding.
  • Ground the generator: Prevent electrocution and shocks by grounding your generator. 
  • Don’t use wall outlets: Never plug your generator into your home’s wall outlets or electrical panel. That could cause a fire, shock or electrocution. Instead, hire a professional electrician to hard-wire the unit.
  • Let it cool: Before refueling, turn off your generator and let it cool down.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How does a generator work? 
    Generators don’t create electricity. Instead, they convert chemical or mechanical energy into electricity. Generators for home use force electrons created by motion and force them through a circuit.
  • What is the best generator? 
    The best Home Depot generators include Generac home generators, as well as generators from Briggs & Stratton, Champion and Durostar.
  • Is it safe to use a generator indoors? 
    No. Using a generator inside your home can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Should I use my generator outside? 
    Yes. The only safe place to operate a gas or diesel-fueled generator is outside of the home.
  • Can I receive a tax deduction for a whole-house generator? 
    According to Intuit, there are no tax deductions for a whole-house generator.

Author Biography:

Jenn Greenleaf is a professional writer from Maine who also works part-time as a bookkeeper for her husband’s residential construction business. She specializes in writing about HVAC, commercial construction, and other home-related topics.

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