In Generators we trust: Keeping powered up when the grid goes down

Power outages are becoming more and more common in cities and towns across Australia. And while storms are at fault most the time, we can't always blame the weather. In August last year, a major power outage caused chaos across Sydney's suburbs as a result of something going wrong in a large substation where a technician was working. Just weeks later over in Melbourne, more than 100,000 homes were without power after a mass blackout. The cause? Transmission load failures at two power stations.

Even the Super Bowl, America's iconic sporting spectacle, lost power for 35 minutes at the Louisiana Superdome!

Let's face it - we can't always rely on the grid for continuous power to our homes and businesses. So what's the answer?

For many, investing in a Domestic Generator provides the peace of mind that you will be able to power up the essentials when the grid fails.

Remember, a standard portable backup generator will not run your whole house. You're going to have to figure out what you need to run, whether it's the refrigerator to keep your food from spoiling, some lights or keeping your mobile devices charged. For some good portable generator options, you can check out these recommendations here, or watch the video below for a demonstration for on one of the most popular portable backup generators when a blackout occurs:

Yamaha EF2800i Inverter Generator: Best All-Rounder?
Running your home from a small backup generator

However, you can opt for a more advanced backup generator option, such as an auto-start generator which can be connected by an electrician to your house mains - this specialised generator will automatically kick in and provide power to your home when there is a grid blackout. Auto-start generator options come in petrol, diesel and gas.

gas generator
Installing an auto-start gas generator is a great way to protect your home or business from power outages

Before you invest in a portable domestic generator or an auto-start generator, here are two essential factors to consider:

What items do you need to provide power to?

Everybody has different requirements when the power goes out. Some are comfortable with a basic camping lifestyle for a day or two, while others value the security and comfort that a generator brings. For many people, keeping their food cold or frozen is a priority when the power goes out. After all, losing a week's worth of groceries can be costly. If you're looking at powering sensitive electrical devices such as laptops, you'll also need to bear that in mind when you choose your generator - look for something with AVR or Inverter voltage control; these generator types can run sensitive equipment like mobile phones etc.

Think about how much power you actually need for the items you would want to power in an emergency. The critical number to know is the wattage consumption of the appliances you think you will need. For example, a laptop typically uses around 200 watts; a refrigerator, 400 -1200w; a 42-inch television, 250w; and half a dozen light bulbs, 600w. You can also check out our Generator Buyers Guide with a power calculator to help work out how much power you need for your specific appliances.

How much can you spend on a generator?

Domestic generators can cost from around $330 to more than $5,000, depending on wattage and features such as size, weight, efficiency and noise levels, as well as how specialised it may need to be. But whatever your generator costs upfront is worthwhile for the peace of mind it provides. You can count on a domestic generator as the ideal portable power source for mission critical domestic appliances, or even your whole home with the right choice.

There are a few options when it comes to domestic generators. The most common choice is an Inverter Generator, which provides reliable clean power without surges and spikes. This is a good choice for when you want to include powering sensitive electrical items such as laptops - they are small, quiet and portable machines great for powering a handful of essential appliances. The most popular inverter generator for domestic back up needs is the Yamaha EF2400iS and the Yamaha EF2800iS.

As mentioned, the next level up for backup convenience is an auto start generator which can be wired into your home power board (this needs to be done by a qualified electrician). Pramac are the market leading brand in this space for petrol or diesel options, with the most suited models being the Pramac P6000 and S8000. Generac are the leaders for gas back-up generators with auto-start functionality.

Another option is a larger AVR generator (typically 6kVA and above) - these can also provide power to you whole home, but just not automatically, you'll need to manually switch over the home power source to the generator. The connection to your home also needs to be undertaken by a qualified electrician. The best AVR home backup generator is the Yamaha EF7200E:

The new Yamaha EF7200E generator is packed with additional features

Take your time researching the right portable generator for your needs. After all, choosing the right home generator is essential to getting the much-needed electricity for your home until the power grid is restored.

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DISCLAIMER* Please note, this advice is general in nature and we strongly recommend consulting the product manual and where relevant, a professional installer.

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