Is Backup Power Important for Your Homestead?

Reader Contribution by Holly Welles
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Living in the countryside has many benefits — the beautiful scenery, the fresh air and being away from the hustle and bustle of the city are likely just a few of the many reasons you moved to a rural area, or why you’ve enjoyed living there your whole life.

That said, being in a more rural area comes with its challenges, and if you’re not prepared, those challenges can do serious damage to your home, your health and your wallet. One of these challenges, as we know, is getting power.

It’s likely that you’ve thought about getting backup power for your homestead, but with so many different options and price points for backup generators out there, how do you know which one to get? Beyond that, is getting backup power a worthwhile investment?

Protect Your Homestead

If living in the country has taught you anything, it’s probably the importance of being prepared. Since we don’t have the same access to resources as the city-folk, we’ve learned to adapt and anticipate a problem before it happens.

Your access to energy should be treated the same way. A power outage to your home could mean frozen pipes, spoiled food and a lack of running water, which is why it’s essential to be prepared when a crisis strikes and have a backup generator in place.

How to Pick the Right Generator

When you’re deciding which generator to get for your homestead, you’ll want to think about a few things to make sure you’re prepared.

1. Pick the Right Kilowattage

If your generator is too small to handle your appliances, there isn’t much point in having one in the first place. For your typical three-bedroom, two-bathroom home, a general rule of thumb would be no less than 10 kW.

If you want to be able to run all of your appliances in the event of a power outage without the risk of overload, you might consider a generator in the 15 to 25 kW range, depending on whether you have all gas utilities, all electric or a mix of both.

2. Select the Right Style for Your Intended Use

Backup generators come in two-pole and four-pole styles, the difference being how hard the motor has to run to generate power. The two-pole-style motor will need to spin at double the RPMs as a four-pole style to produce the same power.

Two-poles are good for running for the duration of a normal workday, while four-poles are better for long-term use. The further away from civilization you live, the more reasons you’ll have to get the four-pole style. If it’s typically a days-long venture to get the power back on, you’ll need a generator built for that type of workload.

3. Choose the Right Engine

Generators have various engine options to choose from, and you’ll want to pick the one that’s the best fit for your homestead. Gas, diesel, natural gas and propane are typical options.

  • Diesel is best for efficiency.
  • Gas is best for convenience, especially if you live deep in the country.
  • Natural gas works best if you have an existing natural gas line going to your house that you can tap into.
  • Propane will work only for those that have access to a large propane source since these types of generator motors are not very efficient.

Another option you have available to you are power take-off generators. They’ll allow you to hook up the generator to a farm tracker and let your tractor motor do the work. These generators are efficient and cost-effective if you can stand to be without your tractor until the power is back on.

Set up Your Generator

Once you’ve picked a generator that will provide the right power load to your home, you’ll need to hook it into your home’s electrical system. This step can be accomplished with an automatic or manual switch.

Automatic switches are very convenient because they’ll throw the generator into action as soon as your primary source of power goes out. You’ll pay for the convenience though, as this option is very expensive, with many automatic switches cashing in at over $1,000.

The manual switch is a much more cost-effective option, and it just requires you to manually pull the switch once you’ve noticed the power is out. Doing so will transfer the power source over to your generator.

Enjoy Peace of Mind

Living in the countryside provides a sense of peace that you just can’t get anywhere else. Be sure to prepare for a power outage with a backup generator proactively so that your peace of mind is never interrupted. A tough farmer keeps on running, even when it’s dark — why shouldn’t your home be the same?

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