Whether short-lived or days long, a power outage can have devastating consequences for many people. Regardless of why you choose to have a generator for your home or business, it's important to make sure that it's up to the task set before it. Taking stock of such things from time to time is a prudent idea and can really help to put your preparations in perspective and keep you from getting too complacent.

Fuel Concerns

The longevity of any single run of your generator is often limited only by its fuel capacity. Many standby generators come with a fixed fuel tank already built into their structure, but this offers only a finite duration, after which it will need to be refilled. Regardless of the fuel type, a self-contained tank may handicap your operations if weather, road conditions or other factors prevent refueling.

One way to get around these limitations is by tying your generator into local natural gas lines, which will provide a near-limitless fuel supply. Further, since gas lines don't rely on local power grids to function, there's little chance of an interruption to your generator's operation. Not all standby generators are capable of using natural gas in place of their normal liquid fuel though, so check with your manufacturer or dealer to be sure if you can make the switch.

Avoiding an Overload

For most people with a standby generator, it's standard practice to run a back-up circuit to critical systems or devices that are supplied by that generator. Where trouble tends to arise is in cases where additional electrical load is being drawn which is in excess of the generator's normal capacity. It's a good idea to take regular inventory of the loads already being drawn by any appliance or device which will draw on the generator in an outage and make any changes that are appropriate.

In the end, there are only two ways to avoid overloading your generator's capacity. You can either replace the generator with a more powerful model or you can take your monitoring of those outlets a step further and actively police their use. If you have the manpower to do so, assigning responsibility for keeping those outlets from drawing more power than the generator can supply is a cost effective approach. If you lack the personnel to take on this extra task, then your only real recourse would be to beef up your generator.

Only you can decide what actions are most appropriate for your building, so be critical in your judgment of the situation. It's far better to be over-prepared when an emergency happens than caught off-guard by the unexpected.