Temperatures in the Midwest hit record lows in the beginning of last year. Omaha’s previous record low was in 1884, but in January of 2018, the temperature dipped to minus 15 degrees.
The forecast for the coming week is for temperatures 16 degrees below zero in the Omaha area. That would break last year’s record.
While extreme, these temperatures are not anomalies. They can happen every winter.
So it’s important your generator can withstand sub-zero temperatures. If your power goes out when the temperature is below zero, you want a generator that can keep you and your family safe no matter how cold it gets.
There are things you can do to ensure your generator starts on these cold days.
Make sure you have the right-sized fuel tank
Your generator needs enough fuel in it to vaporize.
“It has to do with atmospheric pressures and the way gas vaporizes,” says Tobias Sommer, president of Home Generators for Sale in Omaha. “With liquid propane, you need to boil and vaporize the liquid. The colder it is, though, the less you can vaporize.”
For example, a 1,000-gallon tank that’s 40 percent full may need 300,000 BTU to start the generator. At 60 degrees you could have a million BTU available. But at 20 degrees below zero, you may only have 200,000, which wouldn’t be enough.
This creates vapor lock. It freezes up and won’t let the engine start. You can prevent this if you have a tank that’s large enough and filled with enough fuel.
“It’s the same with generators that run on natural gas,” Sommer says, “but they put an additive into natural gas so there are fewer problems.”
Keep a cold weather kit
A cold weather kit can include a battery warmer and an oil heater. Keep your battery at an optimal temperature to assure it produces enough voltage to start the generator.
Make sure your battery is sized properly
Like having the right sized fuel tank for your generator, make sure your battery is sized properly. When temperatures dip into the negatives, your battery won’t produce as much power. That makes it more difficult to start your generator. A battery that still produces the required voltage even in extreme cold is important.
Have a block heater
Finally, a block heater is necessary to make sure you and your family are safe from power outages during extreme winter weather. A lot of people who purchase generators don’t have block heaters.
“Say you go to a home improvement store and buy a generator,” Sommer says, “it’s not going to have a block heater installed. Every unit we install has block heaters and battery warmers to make sure they start in cold weather.”
A block heater helps warm the different parts of the generator so it starts more easily. This puts less pressure on the generator and ensures you have a warm home, even if it’s below zero outside.
If you have questions about preparing your generator for sub-zero temperatures, contact Home Generators for Sale today at (402) 298-5355 . Let an expert help you prepare for inevitable winter extremes.