Even on tract houses, in regular neighborhoods with "normal-sized" houses, I'm seeing generators more often in Northern Virginia new construction.
From inside it looks like a second electric panel box is installed beside the main panel box.
This house has lots of gas appliances and the 200amp box will be quite sufficient for a long time.
But to the left is the special box that will be associated with the generator outdoors.
Since there is natural gas supplied to this house the generator will likely be natural gas.
Sometimes they are powered by liquid propane, which in this house would be a separate gas system.
Notice how this one will be connected to a box that is tied directly into the main panel box.
These are the interesting differences from what I have been seeing in past years:
- Generators are popping up in regular middle-class neighborhoods, and not simply on very expensive houses.
- Generators are showing up on the suburban grid, not simply way out in the country, on farms or in the mountains.
- Generators are smaller and providing more power. This unit, you can see, will be providing 200amps. That is the total electrical need for this house. In the past I was used to seeing large generators which would only provide 60amps, or 100amps. Then the household would select which circuits the generator would cover - kitchen, office, sump pump, septic pumps, freezers, TV - whatever the homeowner considers important.
- Generators now are more efficient and inclusive, often covering the entire house. This is more worry free and less disruptive of life styles.
Generators turn themselves on 1/2 second (or less) after the power goes off.
They are set up by the homeowner to "test" themselves - once a week or once a month. The generator literally turns off the power to the house and turns itself on. The unit will run for a half hour or so and turn itself off. The normal power to the house then comes back on.
Nothing in the house notices that it has lost power. And nothing is damaged by the test, or when power goes off. The generator turns on quickly enough that even work on a computer is not lost. And now, unlike the past, there is no "flickering" of the lights inside the house. The generator's power is smooth and normal.
My recommendation: as power needs become more and more important, and the local grid seems to be getting less and less dependable, the market for power generators will become more popular, efficient, effective and affordable. The builder on this house is offering power generators as a part of the sales feature package. This young couple thought it was a good idea! I think the inclusion of generators on the feature package and having one installed in a house is a Best Practice.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560