Most people rely on electricity in almost every area of their lives. Work, school and play are all intertwined with the use of electrical items that need power. Learning more about generators and their capabilities can help people to decide if a generator is right for their home. This information also helps you to get more from your generator because you will have a better understanding of these devices.

There are numerous fun and odd facts about generators that you are sure to find interesting. These will help you understand where the generator came from and why having one for your home in today’s world is a good idea.

History of Generators

History of Generators 1800's generator

The generators that you know today trace back to 1831. At this time, they were far simpler devices. Generator creation is credited to Michael Faraday, a British physicist, scientist and chemist.

Faraday’s generator was made of neutral material tube, a bar magnet and a coil of wire. Cotton was used to insulate the necessary components. He connected his generator to a galvanometer, which is a device that works to detect electrical current.

As he was constructing his generator, he noticed that when the magnet moved through the wire, the galvanometer kept moving even when the wire did not. This told him that the wire had an electric current flowing through it.

Eventually, he made the Faraday disc. This device is considered to be mankind’s first electromagnetic generator. It consisted of a copper disc that rotated between two magnetic poles. This device produced a small direct current and was shaped similar to a horseshoe.

michael faraday electric generator

Over time, other scientists built onto Faraday’s work. A year after his creation of the Faraday disc, the first magneto electric generator was created by Hippolyte Pixii, a French instrument maker.

During the 18th century, electricity was not a common thing like it is today. Most people used batteries for a reliable energy source.

Modern Generator Creation

Kohler electric plant

In the 1890s, companies like General Electric started to design and manufacture generators. Today’s home generator’s predecessor was the Kohler electric plant. From 1936 through the early 1950s, they provided the Wenonah Lodge with electricity for their lights. They produced what was needed to switch the lights on automatically should a power outage occur.

Two Primary Generator Types

best whole house standby generator

While there are hundreds of generators on the market, they are broken down into two categories, including standby generators and portable generators. Both of these generators have their merits, but their overall use is quite different.

If you only need to power a few items, or you want some power for camping and other activities, a portable generator is a good choice. With these generators, you plug items into them similar to how you plug things into your electrical outlets at home. This makes it possible to have some electricity just about anywhere, including remote forest areas where no grid electrical exists.

Standby generators can keep your entire home in power when an outage occurs. This means that you do not lose the comfort and convenience of electricity no matter what the weather is like outside. You can connect these to your home’s electrical system so that they start up as soon as the power goes out. The longest you go without power is a couple minutes, but most of today’s standby generators restore your power within seconds.

Standby generators come in many sizes. There are options that can power an entire hospital when the power goes out so that the patients have full access to all of the equipment necessary to keep them alive when the main grid electricity fails.

Generators Save Lives

After a storm that knocks out power, people are vulnerable to a number of threats, such as unsanitary conditions and extreme temperatures. For the sick, elderly and very young, the conditions can become life-threatening quickly.

When you have a generator, you can keep the water running and your heat and air conditioning on. This prevents the potentially hazardous conditions that can threaten the lives of people during the fallout of a major storm.

A generator also ensures that people can communicate, at least with emergency services. Since you have power, you can charge cellphones and have access to a computer to make contact with the outside world when necessary. It also allows you to keep radios and televisions on so that you can get information about what is happening from the news.

A generator can power all of your appliances when you pick one that is the right size. This means that your food remains fresh and safe to eat. With appliances like a stove and microwave, you can still enjoy healthy meals and maintain any dietary needs when the electricity is out. It is imperative to get sufficient nutrients, especially during stressful times, such as after a major storm.

Following the Law

transfer switch

A transfer switch ensures that your generator knows when to turn itself off and on, depending on the state of your electrical system. However, if you try to bypass the need for a transfer switch, you are breaking the law.

In all 50 US states, it is against the law to connect your generator directly to the electrical system in your home without using a transfer switch. This is largely due to the potential danger that this poses. With a transfer switch that is installed properly, your generator turns off and on safely.

The Need for a Generator is Expected to Increase

In the United States, the country’s electrical grid is over 50 years old. This is resulting in many areas throughout the country experiencing more outages than they have in previous decades. If you expect to maintain power, you will need a generator to take over when the electrical grid fails.

More and more people are starting to consider a generator an essential component in their home. In fact, when people are buying new homes, those that have generators are getting more attention from potential buyers compared to homes that do not have an electricity backup option.

Home Generator Prices Are Decreasing

About 10 to 15 years ago, you would expect to spend upwards of $20,000 to get a generator installed in your home. However, as the years pass, they are starting to become less expensive. There are many options available for $10,000 or less, making them a much more affordable option for many people.

Within the next 20 to 30 years, it is expected that a home generator will be a relatively normal component in the average home. Due to this, the prices are expected to continue to decrease, making it possible for most homes in the United States to enjoy a generator without having to worry about the generator being a major financial burden.

Ultimately, the cost of a generator will depend on the type that you choose, its size and what the associated installation costs are. However, they are considerably more affordable now which is a good thing due to the issues with the country’s electrical grid that are starting to present themselves.

Enjoy Energy Efficiency

Whenever you think about electricity, efficiency will always be a primary concern. Today’s generators usually give you a choice regarding the type of fuel that you use. For example, for larger standby home generators, you can opt to use propane or natural gas, in most cases.

Both of these fuel sources are efficient. The components in the generator are also designed to work efficiently. Overall, today’s generators use less fuel when they are operating, and they are environmentally friendly because they do not put out excess fumes or chemicals.

Solar Systems Do Not Replace Generators

It is a common misconception that if you have a solar power system installed for your home that you will not need to have a generator. However, there are times when the solar power system is not generating adequate electricity to provide enough power to your home. Just like the standard electrical grid, a solar system can lose power too.

When the power goes out, your generator would kick in to provide you with electricity until the solar system is recharged enough to take over. Overall, the functioning of your generator is the same whether your home has solar power, or it gets its power from the electrical grid.

Generators Are Safe to Use

Electricity is scary for people because there are numerous hazards associated with it. However, the design and build of today’s generators ensure that they are safe during use as long as they are installed and used properly.

A variety of today’s generators have specific components and design elements that keep them safe. For example, generators often have an external fuel solenoid valve. This component automatically and safely turns off the fuel that is supplying your generator during an emergency like a fire. When this happens, the generator essentially self-extinguishes to prevent the fuel that is supplying it from feeding the fire.

Another common safety feature is the low-oil shutdown ability. Most of today’s generators have this feature. It not only protects the engine inside the generator against damage, but it also ensures that the engine does not get too hot.

When you are looking at generators for your home, you will find that most have a wide variety of safety features. All of these are essential to protect your generator against damage and keep your home safe when you are relying on your generator for power.

Generators Can Prevent Looting

Following a disaster, looting is something that is unfortunate, but it happens very often. This is because most homes are vulnerable due to a lack of security. While boarding up windows and doors is an essential safety measure, a generator can also prevent looting.

When you are running a generator, you can keep your security system functioning. You can also remain home so that your house is not left empty and vulnerable. Lastly, by having lights on at all times, this acts as a deterrent to potential looters.

Reducing the Generator’s Carbon Monoxide Risk

One of the biggest concerns you need to explore when you decide to get a generator is carbon monoxide. Generators release this gas when they are working. If you breathe in too much carbon monoxide, it can be life-threatening. However, there are ways to safely operate your generator despite carbon monoxide.

First, ensure that all carbon monoxide detectors in your home are functioning properly. Should the gas get into your home from the generator, you will know right away and can take the appropriate corrective measures.

Installing the generator at the proper distance from your home is also imperative. Lastly, it should never be placed in an enclosed space. When you follow the proper safety procedures, the issue of carbon monoxide will be something that you do not have to worry about.