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A blizzard

When Home Generators Fail 

In December 2022, much of southwest Ontario experienced a once-in-a-generation winter storm that rocked many households. Many were prepared with generators, but some found the limits of what their units could handle in inclement weather. This article will share how to prepare your standby generator for a storm and discuss some of the pros of portable generators if you are in the market.

The limits of an automatic standby generator

Automatic standby generators are great protection for your home when the power goes out. They can restore power to your home in under two minutes and typically power your whole house. You can find out more about them in this article. However, as some found out in the 2022 Christmas storm, failures can occur.

The main challenge that standby generators faced was the amount of snowy and icy wind that got into their oxygen intake vents. Since generators, at their core, are combustion engines, they need oxygen to function. With the amount of moisture aggressively blown into the vents before the power went out, the vents froze over and could not draw air. Others were engulfed in snow drifts and also could not take in air. Remember, no oxygen = no power. 

Another issue was that some generators were not appropriately serviced. Think of a car. If the engine sits for six months to a year without being run or serviced, it may struggle to start up properly. The same goes for a generator. The generator sits outside all year, so regular maintenance is mandatory to ensure it functions properly.

An automatic standby generator

How to prepare your automatic standby generator for a storm

How to prepare your automatic standby generator for a storm

The first way to prepare your generator is to keep it properly maintained. This includes scheduled servicing and running to ensure it functions correctly. Kraun offers generator servicing plans if you prefer hassle-free maintenance.

Another way to prepare for a storm is by adding protection to your generator's location. In the days leading up to a storm, you can run the generator and be confident that it is in working order. You could also set up snow fencing around the unit to protect it from the elements as much as possible.

During the storm, you can run the unit every so often to melt snow and ice buildup. It also helps to clear snow from the unit and the surrounding area. 

A case for portable generators

The convenience and benefits of a standby generator are solid, even if they require a little more attention during a once-in-a-generation storm. However, considering the imperfect nature of standby generators, portable generators are worth considering.

The first, and most obvious point, is price. The unit plus labour costs about one-third of the price of a standby generator setup. It can also come with you if you move instead of being a permanent fixture of the house.

Another benefit is mobility. Since you decide where to run the generator, you can avoid areas with intense wind or snow. It's even possible to run a generator in your garage if you have the doors open for proper ventilation. Assuming you keep the portable generator in a protected place and pull it out when needed, it won't be covered with ice either. With proper maintenance, it will be ready when you need it.

a Portable generator

Portable generators still need maintenance, just like a standby generator. Unlike a standby unit, a portable generator is not strong enough to power your entire home. It will give you enough electricity to run your furnace, fridge, sump pump, and some lights and outlets, so you can feel comfortable and protected at least. Just don't forget to stock up on enough fuel to get you through a storm. 

There are benefits and drawbacks to each type of generator. Standby generators are often more convenient, but portable units prove their worth. It will be up to you to decide the best solution, depending on your needs and budget. If you'd like more information, you can always contact us at 1 844-667-6937 or for a free consultation.

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