Hungry for Power

Most power outages in Bermuda happen during a storm or hurricane, so while they may be fairly rare, they certainly hammer home the importance of electrical power. In October 2014, Hurricanes Fay and Gonzalo pummelled the island, disrupting power for the majority of residents, some remaining without power for weeks afterwards.

Stores had no problem selling portable gasoline-powered generators before, between and after the storms, which goes to show how people are less inclined in this day and age to live without electricity beyond a few days. With Hurricane Season upon us, now is the time to prepare for what may or may not happen in the months ahead. If you’ve made up your mind that, this time, you’re buying a generator, the question remains as to which type you should get: A portable model to keep the fridge or air conditioning up and running, or a larger standby generator to keep your whole home up and running.

Portable generators provide from 3,000 to 8,500 watts, and were originally designed for job sites and camping, and other mobile activities. In Bermuda, however, they provide a fast and easy solution to a power outage as they can easily be stored away when not in use and pulled out for a quick start, when needed. A portable generator will usually power only individual items, like a fridge or freezer, lamps or water pump, so you have to be fairly selective in which item you want to power up. They are the cheapest option when it comes to the original outlay expense, they run on gasoline or diesel, and tend to be noisier than a standby generator.

Standby generators are installed permanently on a concrete pad outside your house and will provide uninterrupted power backup for days, including for critical hard-wired systems like air conditioning, sump pumps, water pumps, security systems and large appliances. These generators connect directly to your home’s electrical panel and are powered by an external fuel supply, such as liquid propane or diesel. They provide from between 5,000 to 125,000 watts, depending on the size of generator you purchase, and deliver high-quality power, so they won’t harm your electronics.

An automatic transfer switch will disconnect you from the main BELCO power grid when it detects an interruption in service. Once your home is safely off the grid, the switch starts up the generator before transferring its power to the home’s electrical panel.

When the main power resumes, the switch shuts down the generator and reconnects your house to the grid. The transfer switch also acts as a safety mechanism, as it prevents back-feeding electricity to the grid, a potentially lethal practice that can start fires and harm utility workers attempting to restore your neighbourhood’s power.

Before you make your choice, it’s important that you talk to a professional to not only assess your load needs, but to also determine which type of generator would best fit your home. The size of your generator should mainly be determined by your needs in a temporary situation, as you’re not looking to power every single appliance in the house while you’re off the grid.

BAC Universal Electric (BUE) has a wide range of high-quality Kohler generators available at their Showroom, from portable to standby models. Stop by and talk to the professionals to find out which one would work best for you. As well as installation, they offer maintenance contracts for the larger installations, to ensure it keeps running smoothly and efficiently.

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