PFM Propane is now Pico Propane. Learn More →

Standby Generators: Frequently Asked Questions

Written on: May 22, 2023

Everything You Need to Know About Backup Power for Your Home

generators Siler City, nc Hurricane season starts June 1. Now’s the time to think about how to protect your home from the stress, inconvenience and expense of extended power outages. Even a bad thunderstorm can lead to several days without electricity, and winter storms are getting worse and more unpredictable here in the Carolinas, too.

If you’re considering your options for backup power generators, we’re sure you have questions. Here’s everything you need to know about a piece of equipment that can keep your home and family safe during a power emergency.

What’s a standby generator?

A standby generator, also known as a backup generator, is propane-fueled power source that is directly wired to your home’s systems so that it comes on within seconds of a power failure to keep your lights on and your refrigerator, furnace and a/c running until the utilities get the lines back up. Propane generators are quiet, extremely efficient and clean-burning, with low emissions.

How is it different from a portable generator?

A portable generator is, well, portable. That can be useful for camping. But most portable generators run on gasoline. That means you need to get in line at the gas station to fill jerry cans when a storm is forecast, or you need a safe place to store gas on your property. Also, a portable generator needs to be set up and turned on—outside—after the power goes out, probably while a storm is still raging, maybe in the middle of the night. A standby generator runs off propane already stored at your home, and turns on automatically when the power goes out.

How long will a standby generator run?

It depends on the size of your generator—and the size of your propane tank.

Most homes have storage tanks that are 100 to 500 gallons. The average 5000-watt whole-house generator will run for one to two days on a 100-gallon tank. A 500-gallon tank would keep the same generator running for 7 to 10 days.

Bigger generators will run more appliances and equipment, but they will use more propane: Typically, 5,000-watt whole-house generators use about two gallons of propane per hour. The most powerful, 9000-watt generators use three gallons per hour.

What size generator do I need?

Size options range from “essential power” models that will run key equipment such as your refrigerator, heat and lights, to true whole-house generators that can manage the demands of most extra-large homes, even during extended outages. Your equipment dealer can help you understand your choices and suggest the best size for your home and your needs.

Is a standby generator expensive?

Sure, portable generators are less expensive out of the box, they can cost you a lot more in the long run. Just keeping it full during an extended outage will add up quickly, not to mention potentially having to wait on long lines for more gasoline.

On the other hand, having a standby generator can help you save money even before the power goes out. Many insurance plans will offer discounts on your homeowner’s insurance plan if you install a standby generator. That’s because, like a security system, a generator helps protect your property. Speaking of security systems, a standby generator will keep yours operating during an outage, protecting your home if you are away.

Is a standby generator safe?

With a standby generator, there’s no risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. There’s also no need to wrestle the unit out of the garage and get it set up and started, while messing with fuel, possibly in the dark or in treacherous conditions.

In addition, if you have loved ones in your home who rely on medical equipment, a standby generator will protect them better and keep them safer.

Is a standby generator a good investment?

Peace of mind is priceless. But when you do the math, a standby generator usually comes on top when it comes to dealing with the expense (and hassle) of a power outage. By keeping even just your essential systems running, a standby generator can help you avoid the cost of replacing spoiled food, the cost of a hotel room—if you can find one, and if the outage is in winter, prevent pipes from bursting.

Another thing: According to Consumer Reports, a properly installed whole-house generator can increase the value of your home by as much as 5%. That’s a great return on your investment, even before you even need to use it.

The Bottom Line

Adding a backup propane generator is a power move when it comes to protecting your family and your home.

We’ve got the experience and training to install your generator correctly and connect the lines to your propane tank, so it powers up your home without damaging your home’s electronic equipment or appliances. (And we can provide you with safe and reliable propane delivery, too.) Contact us today for more information.