How To Be Ready for a Power Outage

By Lyle Weischwill | Jul. 14, 2023 6:38 am PST

Climate change has led to an increase in extreme weather events such as hurricanes, storms, and heat waves. These events can damage power infrastructure, including power lines and poles, resulting in widespread power outages.

Of course, power outages can also occur anytime – even in calm and pleasant weather.

Being prepared for a power outage is essential to ensure your safety and comfort during an unexpected loss of electricity. Here are some strategies you can follow so that you’re ready to handle power outages.

Get a Whole-Home Back-Up Generator

The best way to combat power outages is to install a whole-house back-up generator. Although this strategy is expensive, those homeowners that use a back-up generator consider the investment well worth it.

How a Back-Up Generator Works During Power Outages

An automatic transfer switch connects the whole-home back-up generator to the main electrical power supply for your house. The transfer switch monitors primary utility power and sends a signal to the generator controller when it detects a utility power failure. The transfer switch then connects backup generator power to your home’s electrical system when the switch receives the transfer signal from the generator controller.

The transfer switch also restores utility company power when it becomes available and sends a signal to the generator controller to shut off the backup generator.

How To Get a Whole-Home Back-Up Generator for Your House

Sears Home Services sells and installs Cummins whole-home generators. We’ve partnered with Cummins to offer a range of affordable whole home generators for almost any size of house. Schedule a free in-home consultation with a Sears Expert to begin the process of protecting your home with a back-up generator.

  1. An energy consultant will visit your home and evaluate your back-up power needs, then suggest generator models that will provide dependable power during electrical outages.
  2. Our expert will discuss financing options for your new generator and work out installation details.
  3. The contractor will visit your home and professionally install your new Cummins whole-home generator.

Installing a whole house standby generator gives you the peace of mind that your home won’t lose power during a utility company power outage. With this automatic backup generator system, you can maintain normalcy in your home when your primary power supply goes out.

Image of a whole house backup generator

Have a Portable Generator Ready to Use During a Power Outage

If you’re not ready to get a whole-house back-up generator, we recommend that you have a portable generator ready to go when power outages occur. Portable generators are less expensive but they are limited in the amount of back-up electrical power that they can supply.

How a Portable Generator Can Help You During a Power Outage

The primary function of a portable generator is to provide electricity when the main power supply is interrupted. It can keep these essential appliances and devices running:

  • Refrigerator and freezer. A portable generator can keep these appliances running during a power outage to prevent spoilage of perishable food items. You may also need to keep your refrigerator running to preserve medicine.
  • Heater and room air conditioner. During extreme heat or cold conditions, a portable generator can power a heater or room air conditioner to keep indoor climate conditions safe during a power outage.
  • Cooking appliances. Power up a stove, toaster oven or air fryer during a power outage with a portable generator. You may find that businesses in your area aren’t open during an extended blackout.
  • Sump pump or well pump. Some homes need a generator to power a sump pump to prevent basement flooding or a well pump to provide water to their home during a power outage.
  • Lighting. A portable generator can easily power lights for your convenience during a power outage.

Evaluate your needs and have a portable generator ready to go if it’s essential to your family’s safety and comfort during power outages.

When using a portable generator, follow the manufacturer’s instructions, ensure proper ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide buildup, and avoid overloading the generator by plugging in too many appliances at once.

How to Find the Right Size of Portable Generator

  1. Calculate your power requirements. Make a list of the electrical devices and appliances you want to power during an outage or while using the generator and record their wattage ratings. You can usually find this information on the product label or in the owner’s manual. Add up the wattage of all the devices you wish to run simultaneously. This total will give you an estimate of the power you need.
  2. Add up starting wattage. Some devices, such as motors or compressors, require additional power during startup before settling into a lower running wattage. Check the specifications of devices with motors for both starting and running wattage. Make sure to account for the highest starting wattage in your calculations.
  3. Determine the peak and running load. Add up the running wattage for all devices you will use at one time without considering the starting wattage. This will be your running load. Calculate the peak load by adding the highest starting wattage from your list to the running wattage.

Select the generator size based on your peak load and running load. When you need a portable generator just to power a few essential devices like lights, refrigerator, and a small fan, a generator with a capacity of 2,000 to 3,000 watts should suffice.

If you want to power essential devices along with a few additional appliances like a sump pump or heater, consider a generator with a capacity of 3,000 to 5,000 watts.

Remember that these are general guidelines, and individual circumstances may vary. Always refer to the manufacturer’s specifications and guidelines for the specific generator you are considering.

Create an Emergency Supply Kit

Assemble an emergency kit that includes essential supplies such as flashlights, batteries, a portable radio, a first aid kit, non-perishable food, bottled water, a manual can opener, a battery-powered phone charger, and any necessary medications. Store enough of these supplies to sustain you and your family for at least 72 hours. Include items like canned goods, energy bars, dry cereals, and bottled water.

Keep Your Vehicle’s Gas Tank Filled

It’s a good practice to keep your vehicle’s gas tank at least half full at all times. This way, you can use your car as a temporary charging station for electronic devices or drive to a location with power if necessary.

Protect Sensitive Electronics

Consider investing in surge protectors to safeguard sensitive electronics like computers, televisions, and gaming consoles. You may also think about installing a whole-house surge protector.

Unplug electronic devices during a power outage to avoid potential damage from power surges when electricity is restored.

Develop an Emergency Plan

Discuss and develop a plan with your family members on what to do during a power outage. Assign roles and responsibilities, establish a meeting point, and plan for how to stay connected and informed.

Keep a list of emergency contact numbers readily available, including utility companies, local authorities, and emergency services. This will help you report the outage and obtain relevant information if needed.

Remember, safety should be your top priority during a power outage. If you encounter downed power lines or any hazardous situations, contact your utility company or emergency services immediately.

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