Have you made an initial decision on buying a backup generator for your home? If so, you will undoubtedly start researching various modes and sizes. You might start to think that the only decision that needs to be made is what amount of energy your home draws. Then, you can find a generator that matches the wattage capacity. This simple approach will yield acceptable results. However it can cost you more money than you need to spend. It can also cost you more money in operational costs down the line. Fortunately generator load shedding capability allows you to purchase a smaller generator as a lower cost. With this, you can also save fuel, and still run your home efficiently during outages.
What is Load Shedding?
Load shedding is a process by which your electrical circuits are connected to the generator separately and given a priority designation. The lower priority circuits can be automatically turned off and on by the generator as necessary. This is to maintain power to higher priority devices.
As your appliances cycle on and off, and as you use other electrical devices, the load draw on the generator will fluctuate. Large appliances such as your air conditioner or well pump. Smaller devices include options such as the air mattress inflation fan and kitchen blender. These all draw a large surge of wattage when starting up.
The average refrigerator draws about 700 watts while running. However, when it cycles on it surges up to 2200 watts, over three times the load you likely calculated for. Are you running your generator load with 1000 watts to spare? If so, the first time your freezer cycles on, the generator is overloaded and everything goes down.
The Importance of Load Shedding with Portable Generators
Without load shedding it is an “all or nothing” situation. But if you’ve set up a load shedding system, you can set up the refrigerator as a high priority load. Then, you can run the coffee maker as a lower priority. When the refrigerator cycles on and the load exceeds capacity, rather than shutting everything down, the load shedding generator system disconnects the lower priority circuits. One example of this is the clothes dryer. Once the refrigerator has finished cycling at 2200W and is running back down around 700W, it will sense this. Then, it will return power to lower priority circuits.
Differing manufacturers and models will offer you a variety of ways your home generator can achieve load shedding. When the power goes out, your generator will start up. Then, your automatic transfer switch will shunt from street power to generator power. This will resupply your home with electrical service.
Your specific generator’s control panel will determine how your particular system setup responds to restoring power. This will be done without allowing the flood of appliances to overload and shut down the generator. Some systems will remove all power loads and add them into the system one at a time according to priority status. Others will attempt to add all power loads, only shedding low priority loads as necessary.
No matter how your backup power system is designed, load shedding has you covered. You can rest assured that, during extended outages, you won’t need to make decisions on which appliances take priority.
Benefits of Generator Load Shedding
A major benefit of load shedding is the ability to purchase a smaller generator. The initial cost of a home backup generator system can be expensive. Also, buying a portable generator that has the capability to run your entire home at peak consumption may stress your budget.
With load shedding, you can consult with your electrician and get a calculated estimate on how much of a load draw your home actually uses. You can also check which services you can live without in the event of a power outage.
Deciding to eliminate the washer and dryer, and then load shedding the air conditioner and well pump may bring your power requirements down to a wattage that a smaller generator system can provide. And who wants to do laundry during a power outage anyway?
With proper planning and efficient load shedding decisions, an otherwise far too costly generator system may bring itself down into your price range. With load shedding technology, there is no longer a need to overbuild your backup system to handle 100% of your entire electrical load. The wise economical choice to load shed will save you money at the initial investment and ultimately, over time as well.
kW Considerations for Load Shedding
The decision to purchase the smaller kW generator is not always an initial cost decision. Sure, it may be cheaper and maybe you had the cash to lay out on that bigger generator at the time. But a smaller generator can run more efficiently and cost you less on fuel too.
That 30kW generator, or even the larger 45 or 50kW models can most likely power your entire home without load shedding. But aside from the initial costs, running those generators are more expensive. The fuel tanks are larger and run dry faster, getting propane or gasoline tanks filled up during an extended power outage is often difficult and is counter-productive to the reason you purchased a generator in the first place.
Imagine your long commute to work is all on a smooth paved highway. You can purchase the 4-wheel drive over-sized monster truck and it will get you to work. But you could also purchase the mid-level efficient sedan, it will get you to work, in the same amount of time too. But how much fuel did you burn in that unnecessary behemoth? How many time will you have to stop for fuel?
The same sentiment can be expressed in your generator needs. Unless you have absolutely no appliances you can allow to be turned off for short, intermittent periods by load shedding, getting the largest generator on the market will not always serve your purpose in the most efficient way.
Wrapping Things Up
The purchase of a home backup generator is the first in a series of decisions you made to protect your home. The follow up decision to install a load shedding system will save you money on the initial investment. It will also save on fuel costs. Additionally it can further protect your home by keeping your generator running below peak capacity and preventing accidental overloads.