A generator has become one of the most essential appliances for homeowners. It supplies us with power in times of emergencies.
However, the power supplied by the generator isn’t always consistent. It fluctuates sometimes, which is harmful for the electrical appliances connected to the generator. These distortions in power result in power surges or drops which can affect the circuitries of the sensitive electronics.
So, how do we make a generator safe for electronics and protect sensitive electronics while deriving power from the generator at the same time?
What we can do is protect these electrical appliances in various ways from a sudden surge or drop of power. If you are willing to know the various ways to protect electrical appliances and ensure their longevity in the long run, this guide is for you.
9 Ways to Make a Generator Safe for Electronics
Without any further delay, let’s go through the ways to make a generator safe and protect electrical appliances at your place.
Use a Surge Arrester
Do you know what a surge arrester is? It’s a gadget whose function is to protect the house in times of power surges from various power sources. These devices are designed to absorb 90% of the power surge, if not completely. That is enough to protect the electrical appliances from being damaged. The remaining 10% of the power surge is expected to be absorbed by smaller power arrestors that are already present in the power circuit or in devices.
Remember that, with time, the power arrestors will wear out. As a result, their power absorbing capacity decreases. The latest surge protectors notify users when their level of protection decreases. However, some arrestors do not have this feature and when the users realize they aren’t functioning well, the damage is already done. That’s why we advise homeowners to replace the surge protectors from time to time.
Surge arresters are mostly used for large scale protection. They are one of the most powerful devices meant for handling huge power surges. Therefore, they are slightly expensive. If you are going by a strict budget, we would advise you to buy power protectors instead.
Use a Surge Protector
Surge protectors, also called power protectors, are similar to surge arrestors. The only difference is that surge arresters are used to handle large scale power surges. Power protectors are more suitable to be used at homes.
You must be wondering how surge protectors function. The moment they detect excess voltage in the power input, they divert the flow of power to the grounding wire.
A lot of people forget to plug in the grounding wire and connect it to the power protector. In that case, the device is of no use. Therefore, you must always remember to refer to the manual and connect the grounding wire to the device properly. Call a professional for this setup.
Just like the surge arrestor, a surge protector’s efficiency keeps decreasing. There is a fixed number of joules that it is designed to absorb. With time, its capacity to function decreases. That’s why homeowners are advised to buy top quality surge protectors and keep replacing them after a certain period of time.
Use an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)
Using a UPS is a safe option when it comes to protecting your electronics from sudden power surges or drops. A UPS stores power in a battery and supplies power to the electrical appliances when the power goes off suddenly. The generator takes time to start and supply power. That’s where the usefulness of a UPS comes in.
If you intend to connect all appliances of your house, you can get a large sized UPS. There are smaller ones also available that are meant to be connected to one or two devices. If you are looking for a good quality UPS, you must consider the following tips
Make sure it has a generator mode
These are the best ones if you are powering electronics from a generator. These devices not only help steady the power supply but also store some power, in case the generator shuts down suddenly.
Buy multiple smaller UPS for every device
Instead of buying a large one and connecting all the devices to it, it’s wiser to buy smaller ones and connect them to the devices that are most sensitive like TV, computers.
Buy double-conversion UPSs
The double conversion UPSs are similar to an inverter that’s connected to a generator. The only benefit is that you also get a battery where some power is stored. These UPSs work in the same way as an inverter does.
Not only do these devices supply power to the electronics when the power goes out, it keeps the power supply stable, thus protecting your appliances from damage. These devices are excellent when you have to condition generator power.
Remember that while installing a UPS, you must take care of the connections. Earthing and grounding wires must be properly connected. Besides that, check the rating of the UPS device or devices you have bought to know whether it’s appropriate for the appliances you intend to connect.
Never Attempt to Back-feed Power into the Home
Back feeding power means flow of electric power in the direction opposite to the required flow of power. Sometimes a lot of people do it knowingly.
If you look online there are multiple tutorials available that guide how to back feed power into your house. If you have a dual male ended extension and you are trying out this method, it can be deadly. Do you know back feeding is illegal and there are just reasons for it. It is harmful not only for you but also for users of a given electrical system.
Use an Inverter Generator
Non inverter generators damage electronics. Therefore, if you haven’t yet bought a generator but intend to do so, you must look for power inverters. A power inverter is an electrical device that converts Ac power from the source to DC and then back to Ac power.
However, if you already have a generator but no inverter, you can install one to supply stable and cleaner power to the electronics.
In fact, connecting your appliances to inverter generators is one of the safest options to protect sensitive electronics. The power from the inverter generators is mostly enough to run the appliances. The only thing to note here is that they are comparatively more expensive than open line generators. But, once you use them, you will realize that they are worth the investment.
Use a Power Line Conditioner
When powering electronics with a generator, one can use power line conditioners. These devices are meant to reduce the noise in electrical power. As a result, these devices make the power stable, especially when it’s from open line generators.
These devices are efficient in reducing various types of noises that come from input power like radio frequency interferences, electromagnetic interferences, power surges, etc. If you intend to make your generator safe and condition generator power for electrical appliances, using a power line conditioner is a great option.
Use Automatic Voltage Regulators (AVR)
Another type of devices that one can add to generators to lessen the load and RPM fluctuations is Automatic Voltage Regulators. These devices are designed to supply more consistent power than an open line generator can. However, these devices do not convert AC into DC power. There are a lot of generators that already have these devices installed.
Keep It Dry at All Times
Needless to say, water causes short circuiting. Therefore, to prevent it from occurring, it’s important to keep the machine dry. Ensure that the generator’s surface is dry. Do not touch it with wet hands. If you have a portable generator, shift it to another place, especially during the rainy season.
Also you shouldn’t install a portable generator as an indoor unit. No matter where you decide to place it, the area must be clean and free from dust. Humidity or moisture can affect its normal functioning.
Also ensure that beverage drinks or oil doesn’t get inside the generator’s components. Avoid partying close to the generator. If beverages make their way into the parts of the generator, there can be severe power surges.
Manage the Electronic Devices Properly
Apart from using these various devices listed above to protect your appliances from sudden power charges, you also have to manage the power system properly to ensure their optimum performances. Some of the tips you must remember while using electronics are as follows:
Before starting the generator, disconnect it from the main power source
A lot of people neglect this step but it’s crucial to ensure the longevity of the sensitive appliances. Sometimes, when there is a power cut off and you don’t disconnect the main power source from the generator, what happens is that the power from the generator travels back to the utility lines, which is harmful.
Use heavy-duty extension cords
To ensure that the power is supplied and managed smartly, you must use heavy duty extension cords. These types of advanced cords come with special fues, which are designed to handle power surges. While installing these heavy duty wires, remember to check the watt rating of the generator.
Follow the two tiered approach
If you intend to connect too many appliances to the generator, you can follow this approach. This method becomes extra effective if you have a surge protector strip. The function of the strip is to let users connect multiple devices so that they can be charged when needed.
Keep the fuel levels stable
The next important thing to remember when using generators to power appliances is to maintain a stable flow of fuel. Sufficient amount of fuel ensures that there is no sudden break of power supply. Also, inspect the various parts of the generator and clean them from time to time.
The Bottom Line
By following the above mentioned ways, you can shield your appliances from possible power surges or drops, thereby making the generator safe for electronics.
To ensure ultimate protection, you must combine the methods and use them in combination. For instance, you can use power line conditioners, meant to clean up generator power for electronics and surge protectors together with UPSs. You can also use an inverter generator for added safety.
While using a generator, you must remember that they have different capacities and scopes of functionality. Therefore, choosing the right one is important. Do your research vigilantly.
Usually, the higher the price of the generator, the more features are available. Apart from this, there are other considerations too. For instance, go for reputed brands of generators. Go through the customer reviews to know how they have served others. If you are overwhelmed seeing the numerous options available, it would be best to consult a professional and get their advice.