Uncle Bobs Tips

Generators

Generators

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As the world keeps growing in technological leaps and bounds, we are ever searching for bigger and better ways to run our busy productive lives more efficiently.

One such method is the use of generators. These machines effectively generate electricity, further expanding the growing reach of the progressive arm. Generators can be used for a number of purposes, and have many benefits, as well. Let's explore the world of generators.

A generator means electricity whenever you want, wherever you are. This includes your backyard, the park or the snow-covered top of the Rockies, a large outdoor function such as a wedding or private concert, a camping trip, or hike through the wilderness. Generators can also facilitate short-term use during black outs or prevent brown outs during high usage periods. Construction sites are often powered by generators, as well as carnivals, fairs, and festivals. The latter examples make use of trailer-mounted generators. Standby generators are installed into buildings that require electricity at all times such as hospitals, sewage stations, and communication services. Trailer-mounted generators can also be helpful in crisis intervention at damaged sites such as during or after hurricanes, earthquakes or major snowfall. Armies have even made use of this equipment in sending radio messages via man-powered electric generators in the field.

Choosing the generator that's right for you:

There are a few questions that need to be asked when deciding which generator will work best for you. Generators come in various voltages, frequencies, and power sources. Power output is determined by the use/load necessary. Sizes/power vary from hand-held (supplying several hundred watts), to hand-cart (several thousand watts), to trailer-mounted or even permanent (over a million watts).

Features vary from super quiet, convenient for a remote hospice (you know, one of those things your wife is always begging you to send her to), industrial power for use in large facilities like hospitals or power supply companies, gas-efficient for the tree huggers or environmentally-concerned, or economy for the average Joe with the average-sized wallet.

What you're looking for will be determined by a combination of your needs and your budget. We all want a well-functioning piece of equipment with minimal setbacks at an affordable price. Decide what's most important to you, and you'll get it. For example, if fuel is expensive in your area, a unit that is run with an OHV (overhead valve) or automatic idle control burns oil more efficiently, and might be a priority for you. If you are working in a particularly damp area, a ground fault circuit interrupter is an important feature for you.

Be sure to choose a generator that produces more electricity than the amount you will be requiring. Calculate how much you'll need by adding up the requirements of all the appliances, equipment or lighting fixtures. Lights are easy as it's just a matter of bulb wattage. Other appliances should have this information written on it. Get a higher voltage than you think you'll need to cover the initial power surge, miscalculations, and emergencies.

For your safety

Other facets are necessary for safety and therefore less flexible. A disconnect breaker is a built-in automatic shut off switch. This shuts down the generator in the case of short circuit or overload. This does not come with every type of generate. It is primarily found in models that are directly hooked up to the electrical sub-panels. Otherwise, a circuit breaker does the same thing.

Generators can be extremely dangerous if not used properly, and wonderfully helpful if they are. Remember:

Never use a portable generator indoors or in partial enclosed areas, even within large open areas such as a carport. This is because you run a great risk of carbon monoxide poisoning the limited air supply found in enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces. An open window or door will not prevent CO build up.

For extra security, install CO detectors in your home.

Plugging a generator into a regular wall outlet is known as "Back feeding", and it is extremely dangerous. This can by-pass certain built-in protection devices within your home, and create hazardous, even fatal, situations for utility workers or neighbors.

Avoid electrocution by never running your generator near water. Operate generator on a dry surface, and keep out of rain and snow.

Never store gasoline, propane or other fuel types in the home. These liquids are highly flammable and should only be kept in strong safety containers outside the home, and of course, far away from fuel-burning appliances.

Learn about the generator's humble beginnings. Or see more articles on the many facets and properties of the quickly advancing generators.

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