Sales of home generators have spiked in recent years following extreme weather events such as hurricanes, snowstorms, tornados and power outages from an aging grid system in the United States.
Most severe weather-related power outages in the U.S. occur during June, July and August, according to insideenergy.org. Propane standby or portable generators can prevent costly interruptions to daily operations in your home and on your farm, and ensure that critical equipment, such as wells or ventilation fans, are kept functioning.
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“A power failure can devastate farm operations, which is why an emergency power source is so essential,” said Cinch Munson, director of agriculture business development for the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC). “Spring can bring weather-related outages and extreme weather to many parts of the country. A propane generator is a farmer’s best protection to keep his business up and running.”
Since propane can be stored for long periods of time, and is already used by more than 40 percent of farms nationwide, propane-powered generators offer producers and rural homeowners convenient, reliable power during a weather emergency. PERC offers the following tips when choosing a generator for your farm or home.
Consider the power needs of your farm or home. Generators are sold by wattage capacity, which determines the amount of equipment they can power. Assess what equipment is essential during an outage and total the combined energy requirements to determine what generator size fits your needs.
Understand the difference between portable or standby generators. Propane standby systems can deliver up to 125 kilowatts of power and are a farmer’s best bet for powering stand-alone buildings. Within seconds of an outage, standby generators automatically supply power to a building’s breaker box. After utility power returns, the generator shuts itself off and waits for the next outage.
Portable generators are manually operated and mobile, so they can be moved wherever they’re needed. They can deliver up to 10 kilowatts and are ideal for remote applications such as well pumping, or for maintaining power to a few key household appliances like refrigerators or freezers.
Compare models and features. Look for trusted brands that use commercial-grade engines and provide consistent, high-quality power. Propane-powered models are available from Kohler and Generac, and are often available at local home improvement stores or online. Also look for smart features such as low-oil shutdown and automatic self-testing.
Consider additional costs. PERC recommends working with a qualified professional to install power generation systems. Some companies offer free or low-cost in-home assessments. Additionally, consider adding a corrosion-proof protective housing to protect the unit. For optimal performance, always follow maintenance schedules recommended by the manufacturer.
PERC currently offers incentives on propane generators in exchange for customer feedback and performance data.
This article was originally published in the NEW PIONEER ™ Summer 2015 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.