If you’re thinking of installing a permanent standby generator then you’ve probably experienced one too many power outages and you’re done being left in the dark.
And if that’s the case, you’ve probably Googled all sorts of information about generators and maybe you’re just as uncertain as ever! But take a deep breath because we’re here to help. We’ve been installing generators, from Kohler to Briggs & Stratton and Generac for New Jersey homes and businesses since 2003. We helped customers make it through Hurricane Sandy, and we can help you make it through this decision.
While we can install the brand of your choice, Generac generators are our top choice for many reasons. Here are some of those reasons and the answers to commonly asked questions about how they work and what to expect.
Like other generators, a Generac generator can run on liquid propane, or tap right into your home’s natural gas lines. It sits outside, just like your air conditioning unit, and waits… and when the power goes out, your Generac knows it and turns on.
The great news is that this happens automatically no matter what the cause of the outage – whether it’s a storm or just an equipment failure. And it happens whether you’re home or away. So if you’re worried that your freezer will thaw while you’re not there, or the cat will be left in the cold, you can rest easy knowing your generator is on the case.
When the power returns, your generator goes back to sleep and waits until it’s needed again.Want to find out which generator is best for you? Ask us!
Your backup generator will kick on about 10-15 seconds after a power outage. It takes another 10-15 seconds to fully power up. So it will be running at full power within 30 seconds of an outage, which is less time than it would probably take you to find a flashlight!
Conversely, the generator will stop instantly once the power returns.
The answer to that is a definite, “It depends.” No doubt, backup generators can be gas-hungry, but ultimately the cost is a tradeoff for security, comfort and convenience. If the power goes out on an especially hot or cold day, or if you have kids or elderly family members who are more affected by the consequences of power loss, the cost is probably inconsequential.
Plus, if you’re looking at an outage of more than a few hours, losses from a warming refrigerator and freezer can far outweigh the cost of the gas to run your generator.
In general, the cost of running your generator will depend on whether you’re using propane (which tends to be a little less expensive but susceptible to running out), and the overall cost that you pay for natural gas.
And the more parts of your home that you power, the more costly it is to run the generator. Powering a few outlets and the refrigerator will use less fuel than running the air conditioner and microwave, for instance.
The simple answer is that as long as you have a fuel supply, you can run the generator 24 hours a day for as many days as you need it.
Keep in mind, however, that any generator is a mechanical piece of equipment, so a little maintenance goes a long way. If you keep up with a regular maintenance schedule, your generator will run far more efficiently and reliably than one you ignore until you desperately need it.
In our experience, we’ve seen Generac generators run continuously for over a week without a hitch. But we like to err on the side of caution, so we recommend that you check up on your generator periodically during an extended outage. If it’s been running for a 24 hour period, it’s a good idea to shut it down for 15 minutes to check the oil. Top it off if necessary, then let it start back up. Think of it like a car engine – some TLC will keep it humming smoothly.
Generac generators are about the same loudness as the average air conditioner. By law, permanent generators must be below certain decibel thresholds, so they should all be pretty tolerable. At least, the sound will be more tolerable than the aggravation of another power outage!
It may seem counterintuitive, but the larger the generator, the quieter it is. That’s because larger generators have larger engines that actually run at half the speed than their smaller counterparts.
In good news, portable generators tend to be louder than permanent ones, so that’s another added bonus of having a permanent generator installed.Let us recommend the right size generator for your home. Estimates are free!
Ideally, your generator should be installed as close to the electric and gas meters as practical. The further from those sources, the more expensive it can get to install.
Other things to consider are proximity to bedroom windows where noise may be a problem, and distance from the house so that exhaust gasses can be safely vented. If you live in a flood zone, it’s important to locate the generator above the flood line.
In general, each town has its own location requirements. Some won’t allow generators to be installed in front of homes, for example, and others may require it to be raised. When it coms time to install your generator, we’ll apply for the proper permits and follow your town’s guidelines for placement.
It’s reasonable to expect your generator to work when you need it to. But there may still be a nagging question in the back of your mind: how do I really know whether it will kick on or conk out at that crucial moment?
One of the great things about Generac generators is their self-diagnostics. If there is ever a malfunction that will keep it from running properly, a red light appears on the unit itself and stays on to alert you until the problem is resolved.
If there is a minor issue, for example one that requires maintenance, you’ll see a yellow light instead. The generator will still run, but it would be wise to attend to the issue as soon as possible.
You may be thinking that sounds great, but how do you know if there’s an issue without checking for lights every day? There are two solutions to that.
One, you can have a third-party service monitor your generator, similar to how a central station monitors your alarm system. You can set your account up so that if there is ever a problem, the monitoring service will automatically alert whomever you choose – you, another family member, even an installer or electrician like us!
That way someone will know immediately when a problem needs to be addressed.
The second solution is to install one of the newer wifi-enabled generators. They can be set up to automatically notify you or whomever you choose via email or text if there is a problem. No monitoring service necessary.
This is one place where Generac really shines. Not only can it be sized to power your whole house, but it can be configured to power only what you need, when you need it.
Think about it: if you wanted to run your air conditioner, television, computer, refrigerator, microwave, lights, washing machine and dryer, that would require quite a bit of power.
With a Generac, you can take advantage of a feature called “load shedding” where certain items will be shut down when others are turned on. Up to 12 different household items can be sequenced so that when the system draws too much power, individual items are shut down in the order you specify.
For example, you can shut down power to the microwave when you want to run there washing machine, or shut down the dryer when you need to run the air conditioning.
It’s a great way to conserve fuel and only run what you need.
Generac is a great brand in part because its ease of maintenance. If you’re a die-hard DIYer, you can likely manage the maintenance yourself. It’s more user-friendly than other big brands and when you need help, Generac has a wide network of authorized repair and service reps so you can get help quickly and easily.
Unlike some other brands, you can access the diagnostic reports yourself and troubleshoot on your own or with phone assistance from a pro.
But if you choose to do it yourself, be sure to actually do it! Sometimes hiring a professional is just as much about sticking to a reliable schedule. If you don’t maintain your unit, you risk damaging it or violating the terms of the warranty,
Think of it this way: you wouldn’t run your car into the ground and fail to change the oil. The same should be true of your generator. It needs occasional service top keep it in top shape.
A permanent standby generator has many benefits, from keeping you comfortable during rough weather, to ensuring the convenience of lighting and appliances, to keeping your food fresh and safe. If you’re thinking of installing one or have questions before you do, get in touch with us for a free estimate. We’ll answer your questions and help you make the best choice for your home.