If you live in Kaysville, UT you have yet another reason to be satisfied with your choice of residences. As a result of what they/we learned following our recent windstorm and the associated power outages, our fine city is offering a sweet solution to those wanting to have a generator power their home in the event of power outages.
Traditionally, you’ve realistically had only two options when it comes to generators.
- Extension cords. (Cost= whatever the generator cost) This option is simple, but fraught with problems. It is simple because all you really need to do is buy a generator and then, using extension cords strung throughout your home, you power whatever device you are wanting to power. Here is the rub – you certainly can’t power things like furnace blower, light circuits, dishwashers, disposals, water heaters, etc. as they are all hard wired into your home’s wiring; they don’t have the ability to plug directly into a generator. You could power anything that you could drag an extension cord to though.
- Backup generator and transfer switch. (Cost, $3,000 to $7,000+) This is the right way to do it, and I really wish that I could justify this approach. A large, generally permanently mounted generator is installed next to your home. These are big units of 10,000 watts or more (some are 50,000 Watts and up) that run off of propane or natural gas. They automatically switch on when the power goes out and even test themselves for proper operation several times per month. Hospitals use this type of system. One of the necessary elements is a “transfer switch“. The transfer switch disconnects your home from the power grid and connects your home to the generator. This is necessary, as if you were not disconnected from the power grid your generator would be in effect attempting to power your whole neighborhood (called backfeeding). This is also dangerous to the power crews attempting to repair the outage. The transfer switch is connected to what is known as the “critical load panel”. The critical load panel is a new circuit (breaker) box that is installed during the installation of the generator and transfer switch, wherein you’ve predetermined what the “critical loads” are. In other words, this new panel is what is powered by the generator, and would contain the circuits in your home that you’d want to be powered in the event of a power outage (hence the word “critical”). Installation of this new panel and the transfer switch is done only by a real electrician and can run anywhere from $600 to several thousand – depending on your home, etc. The most inexpensive backup generator (also called standby generator) I could find was about $2,000 (it was 10,000 Watts). Add that to the transfer switch, the new panel, and installation and it is easy to estimate that you’d be at $3,000 to $5,000 very easily. Most “real” systems are more than $7,000 (generator, transfer switch, electrician). A huge upside is that you could run your A/C on one of these (if you bought a big enough generator), also they are generally hard plumbed into your natural gas line (more $ though). Check them out at Home Depot. If you can do that, then do that.
So here is the sweet solution -
Kaysville City is offering a device called the Generlink. This device fits between your power meter and the electrical panel. (Behind the glass cover/spinning wheel part). The device is $500 and it includes installation by Kaysville City. It serves as a transfer switch and a critical load panel of sorts – all in one. What is unique about this device is that you can plug virtually any generator into it, and then you can choose to power any of the circuits you want. Here is how it would work. First, buy the Generlink from Kaysville City. Buy or use a compatible generator (up to 7,000 Watts). Then when the power goes out, you’ll move your generator outside, plug it in (a 20 foot cord is included; a 40 footer is $50 extra). Then, inside your existing circuit breaker box you’ll turn off every circuit you don’t want and can’t power. Alternatively, you could just leave all the circuit breakers on, but turn everything off inside the home – turn your A/C to off, stop the dryer, turn off the TV’s, computers, etc. With a 7,000 Watt generator you won’t ever be running the A/C (most of them are 10000+ Watts) or an electric dryer (5,000 Watts+). If you want you could control everything from the breaker box, and have color coded the “critical loads” in your circuits. That way the kids don’t turn on the A/C at the thermostat and kill the generator. The benefit here is the flexibility this option offers. You can change your mind at any time – say deciding to run a hair dryer once you’ve turned the lights off, etc. (This is Generator Use 101). Bottom line, you control what you power using existing switches, controls, and circuit breakers, and the size of your generator. Once you’ve selected which circuits and/or turned off the lights and appliances, you go back outside and start your generator. Then you get to stand back and gloat about being prepared. Do a little dance in your driveway. It might be worthwhile to have a couple of copies of this information on hand to give to your neighbors who come out of their dark houses going towards the light.
The device itself is worth more than the $500 cost. Installation is free. Kaysville City will even finance it for free over 12 months ($41.66 per month).
How do I get one? - Call Kaysville City Building Dept (801-544-1363).
Visit www.generlink.com for more info, technical stuff, etc.
(I happened to see this at the bottom of this month’s power bill. The same information is in the upcoming month’s newsletter. Right now they have them ready to go -I ordered mine today – will be installed tomorrow, but after everyone sees the info it might be a longer wait.)
On a related note, Costco has a 7,000 Watt Champion-brand generator for $699 (discounted by $200) that would work perfectly.
That is a $1,200 total cost for electrical power backup of your home. Less if you already own a compatible generator (most are), and a portion of the remaining cost is able to be financed for free.
This is a no-brainer, and remember that we are guys that know.