Here’s why you need a Standby Generator

Extreme weather systems can result in extended power outages during the winter months, Homeowners are encouraged to invest in a standby generator. Image courtesy of The Toronto Star.

When the weather outside is frightful, a standby generator can make your life delightful in the event of a power outage.

A standby generator senses an outage, turns on automatically and delivers backup power to your home. The generator will continue to run until the utility power returns.

Without any backup, this is what you can lose:

Image courtesy of Generac Generators.

Every year thousands of Ontario homes are without power due to downed power-lines, fallen tree limbs and an accumulation of ice and snow, but power outages aren’t limited to the winter months. You can expect an outage at any time.

Ice storm 2013 – photo courtesy of The National Post

There are two types of generators homeowners can invest in depending on their needs.

Standby Generator:

A standby generator starts automatically during a power outage. This generator is installed permanently beside the home and provides uninterrupted backup power for days at a time. It is installed directly to the home’s electrical panel and is fueled by natural gas, liquid propane or diesel.

A standby generator consists of a generator unit and an automatic transfer switch. The two work together to ensure that the backup power starts right away in the event of an outage.

The automatic transfer switch is disconnected from the utility power after detecting an interruption in service. The switch tells the generator to turn on and transfer power to the home’s electrical panel.

The standby generator is powered from an internal combustion engine which is fueled by the local natural gas supply. If natural gas is not available, the liquid propane or diesel stored in the device kicks in.

Once power is restored the transfer switch will turn off the generator and reconnect the home to its utility power.

Like any mechanical device, a standby generator requires maintenance. After 24-48 hours of continuous use, a technician is required to change the oil and filter. Otherwise, this service should be performed every year.

Portable Generator:

 A portable generator is a gas or diesel-powered device that provides temporary electrical power.

Homeowners can plug electrical appliances directly into the generator’s sockets or into a sub-panel which must be performed by an electrician.

Portable generators offer a limited supply of electricity ranging from two to four outlets or a few specific circuits when plugged into the panel.

This type of generator is designed for temporary use only. A portable generator requires manual operation and close monitoring when in use. This means there is no electrical backup if no one is home. 

What does HOME SAFE prefer?

The reliability of a standby generator is priceless. A standby generator is a long-term solution that keeps your home running like normal when the power goes out. This is especially important for families powering medical equipment or home businesses.

Five Reasons to love standby generators:

1. Fast, automatic delivery of emergency power after power line failure.
2. Maintains the same comfort level, at home or at work, during an outage.
3. Keeps an adequate food and water supply during extended power outages.
4. Provides a permanent solution.
5. Remains at home, in familiar surroundings during a storm or extended power outage.

How do I install a standby generator?

A specially trained and licensed electrician, like HOME SAFE, can safely install a standby generator and calculate the adequate wattage needed to power rooms in your home.

How many watts does it take to power your home?

The following infographic shows the average wattage of devices in your home: 

Image courtesy of Lowes

HOME SAFE helps you weather the storm with a Standby Generator. To find out more about unit types and installation options, request a preliminary consultation today.

Dorm Safety Tips – Practice Electrical Safety

As our college and university students gear up for another school year will they get the grade when it comes to electrical safety?

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says firefighters respond to an average of 3,810 fires in college dorms every year. Careless smoking, unattended candles and cooking and the improper use of extension cords and power outlets are the most common culprits.

Electrical safety should be top of mind especially for those living in older dorms or student residences. In a previous post, we interviewed Hamilton resident, Olivia Clarke, who left her student house after discovering unsafe electrical issues. Clarke hopes her story will inspire other students to do their research before moving into an older residence.

Electrical fires are preventable but it’s up to students to make the right decisions and know what to do in the event of an electrical hazard. Here are some important recommendations to remember:

1. Do not reset a breaker more than once: If the breaker keeps tripping there’s a problem; contact your landlord or your residence director right away.

2. Avoid plugging in too many devices:  Plugging in too many devices can overload your circuits. The Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) says you should only use 80 percent of your circuits amperage to be safe. So if your circuit is 15 amps, you should only use 12 amps.


3. Avoid using large draw appliances like portable heaters or air conditioners unless on a dedicated circuit:  These appliances have a heavy load and will likely take up that 12 amp threshold. This type of device must be plugged into a dedicated circuit. 


4. Contact a licensed electrical contractor: If you feel like there is imminent danger and your landlord or residence director has not been able to rectify the issue, contact the fire department right away. You should also reach out to a licensed electrical contractor, like HOME SAFE, to perform any necessary inspections and repairs. 


HOME SAFE is a Mississauga-based licensed electrical contractor that services homes and student residences all across the GTA. The electrical contractor encourages students or parents with questions or concerns to reach out.

Our 24/7 emergency service makes it easy for residences to contact us at any time.


Students, we encourage you to read and memorize these other important safety tips:

1. Become familiar with your new home or dorm; make a fire escape plan and practice it regularly – make sure you have two ways of getting out of your home

2. Check smoke alarms for expiry; test every month, change batteries twice a year and replace every 10 years (or as per manufacturers request). Don’t assume the alarm is working just because the light is on.

3. A functioning CO alarm must be installed outside sleeping quarters

4. Install a functioning fire extinguisher on an exit path that is easily accessible – not in a cupboard or under the sink

5. Never leave cooking unattended, stay in the kitchen if you’re cooking

6. If you smoke, smoke outside and use deep, sturdy ashtrays to properly discard cigarettes. Never flick cigarette butts off of balconies

7. If you’re lighting candles make sure they are away from flammable items like curtains, couches, pillows or clothing; always blow them out if you’re leaving the room. Opt for battery-powered candles instead – they are safer.

8. For those living in upper floors, install a collapsing escape ladder from the window

9. For those living in basements, make sure there is an exit direct to outside

10. Do not overload extension cords, power strips or outlets

11. Do not connect multiple extension cords together

12. Extension cords should never be used on a permanent basis

13. Do not place cords under doors or carpets, and do not pinch them with   furniture

14. Use light bulbs with correct wattage for lamps

15. Never remove the ground pin (the third prong) to make a three-prong plug fit a two-prong outlet

16. Check that all electrical items, including extension cords, are certified by a nationally recognized independent testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Intertek (ETL), or Canadian Standards Association (CSA)

17. Irons, hairdryers, curling irons and straighteners should never be left unattended, and should be unplugged when not in use