A standby generator is a unit that sits outside your home and in the event of a power outage it will automatically turn on and provide power for your home or business. This past year we have seen a rapid increase in demand for them and so we thought this month we would answer our top 5 most frequently asked questions about standby generators.

Note: This blog post discusses standby generators not portable generators. Although both provide backup power, the two are vastly different machines.

What size generator do I need?

When we are talking about size, we are not necessarily referring to the size of the unit but to the unit’s electrical capacity. They are listed in terms of kilowatts therefore a 12kW generator means 12 kilowatts. Deciding which size generator you will need for your home or business, depends then on how much you want the generator to power in the event of a power outage. If you want the furnace, one TV and a few lights and receptacles to run you will need a smaller generator than if you want your entire 3,000 square foot home to stay up and running like nothing happened. Your electrician can help you make that calculation if you are unsure.   

In the event of a power outage, how long will I be without power?

Assuming you have an automatic transfer switch, it will only be a matter of seconds. An automatic transfer switch is what connects your home or business to the standby generator and when it senses a power outage it will automatically switch over to your generator. When power is restored, it detects that as well and switches you back.

What do I need to do to maintain my generator?

Just like any mechanical equipment your standby generator does require maintenance. Your generator will require oil and filter changes regularly and it should be serviced after it has been in use for an extended period of time. Even if you don’t have a power outage, your generator runs through regularly scheduled “exercised” times where the generator runs for anywhere between 6 to 15 minutes to be sure the unit is ready when needed.

Can I install the generator myself?

There are numerous safety considerations for a standby generator ranging from where the unit is physically placed to how it is connected to your electrical system. It is highly recommended that you have your standby generator and transfer switch installed by a licensed electrician to ensure everything is up to code and working properly. Also, a lot of generators do come with a warranty that can be voided if the unit isn’t installed properly and subsequently fails.

How much will it cost?

This is always the main question but just like the size of the generator varies based on your needs so does the cost. Once we determine which size unit you will need, which brand you want and look at your current electrical system to determine the installation of the automatic transfer switch, we can provide an estimate. We always provide free, no obligation estimates and will work with you and your budget. One thing to keep in mind when weighing the cost/benefits is that it has been estimated that standby generators increase the value of your home by 52.7 percent of the cost of the generator system. And in certain cases, they can lower your homeowner’s insurance rates. So even if there aren’t any significant power outages, your standby generator is a great investment that can provide long-term savings.

If you have any questions or comments, contact Sasha at sasha@inthelitellc.com. As always, we hope we’ve made your day brighter!

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