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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is included with the generator?
It is important to find out what does and does not come with the generator you are purchasing e.g. Transfer switch, composite pad (if not, cement slab may need to be poured, which may require a building permit being pulled), battery, engine oil, antifreeze, and dealer startup to validate warranty, etc.
How long does it take to install a Residential Emergency Home Standby generator?
A typical home standby air cooled generator installation will take about one day to complete. Liquid cooled models would take longer to complete. If a concrete pad is necessary it would add a day or two for the concrete to dry. The length of time is based on a typical application. It does not apply to applications that require extended runs of wiring or gas piping.
What size generator do I need?
Power requirements must be determined to properly size your generator. We are providing some steps to assist you in approximating the size generator for your power needs. Please keep in mind that unless you are qualified, you should use a certified generator dealer to determine your power needs.
STEPS TO DETERMINE GENERATOR REQUIREMENTS
- Determine your need. Do you want the generator to operate part or all of your home, office, or business?
- Identify the appliances and/or tools the generator will need to power.
- Determine the wattage for each appliance and tool you plan to use frequently. The “Common Wattage Guide” below will help you determine your need.
- Total the wattage for appliances and tools you frequently use.
- Identify motor and pump requirements. Use the motor and pump charts provided below.
- Calculate and total the wattage for the motors and pumps frequently used. Always use starting watts, not running watts, when determining the correct electrical load requirements.
- Total the wattage of the appliances & tools and the motors & pumps. Keep in mind that if you coordinate your power usage wisely you do not have to operate everything all at once. Therefore, for emergency use you don’t necessarily need to size the generator to operate everything simultaneously.
- Convert watts into kilowatts by dividing the watts in step VI. To determine the generator size required. Please note that it is suggested, although not absolutely necessary, to size the generator 20-25% over the size you determine your needs to be. This will allow room for future growth. For example, if you determine that you will need a 15 kW generator then it is advisable to purchase an 18 kW generator to accommodate future expansion.
What is the process I will have to go through to get a generator installed and ready for back-up?
The generator process typically involves:
- Site Survey by A-Lectric Company.
- Selection of Generator
- Applicable permits
- Natural Gas or Propane Installation
- Delivery of unit and placement of panel (this may be done before the gas source has been installed.)
- Electrical Installation
- Dealer startup to validate warranty.
- All applicable inspections.
What should I consider when choosing a generator?
As a consumer you have many options in the process. Some key things you will need to consider: The Make of the generator of choice. How it will be fueled (Natural Gas, Propane or Diesel Fuel) During the site inspection our experts will determine size and equipment needed to complete the project, based off of the needs and wants
What is the expected life of the engine?
A properly maintained engine should provide over 20 years of operation under emergency standby conditions. Keep in mind that the units are not intended to provide continuous power (24 hours a day, 365 days a year).
Where can I purchase parts?
Parts may be obtained by calling A-lectric Company or submit a request through our Contact Us Page.
How much fuel does a Residential Emergency Home Standby generator use?
- 8.5 KW
- Air-Cooled 12 KW
- Air-Cooled 17 KW
- Air-Cooled 15 KW
- Liquid-Cooled 30 KW
- Nat. Gas cu ft/hr 132 193 242 200 450
- Lp Gas cu ft/hr (lb/hr) 72 (8.4) 81.0(9.4) 112 (13) 85 (10) 180 (21)
Figures are fuel consumption values at 50% (full) load. It is unlikely that the generator would run at full load for an extended period of time. Therefore, your consumption would decrease accordingly.
Does a generator need maintenance?
Like anything, a generator does require some minimal preventative maintenance to keep it up and running when needed. Remember you have a system that generates electricity that burns fuel. It’s an engine, like your car it has many moving parts along with a power generation system. Would you let your car go months, maybe years with having your oil changed, tires rotated, windshield wipers replaced? Your generator, like your car requires preventative maintenance. With that being said based on the make, model and size, there are few things you should know about the maintenance of your new generator. Property Owners Responsibility:
- Keep the generator free and clear of all snow and debris
- Check the oil regularly; keep extra oil on hand to add if needed
- If propane or diesel fueled ensure adequate fuel supply
You should know how to obtain the error code from the generator in the event of troubleshooting as well as be capable of resetting the controller on your generator. This is something that the technician would have gone over with you at the time of installation. You can also refer to the owner’s manual for instruction as well. To Be Completed By A Certified Technician:
- Yearly or bi-annual maintenance
- Trouble Shooting
- Taking apart or disassembling any part of the generator
Please call our offices with any questions that you may have about service, trouble shooting and yearly preventative maintenance.
What type of fuel is best?
There are many advantages and disadvantages to different types of fuel. Nearly all Generators use gasoline, diesel, natural gas or propane. The following information will hopefully answer any questions or concerns you may have concerning different fuel sources. Gasoline
- Common fuel source – easily obtained
- Increases portability of smaller generators
- Highly flammable
- Short shelf life (approximately 6 months)
- Storing large quantities is hazardous
- May not be available during power outages
- Somewhat Expensive ($3.50 to $4.00 per Gallon)
- Long shelf life
- Clean burning
- Home delivery available for larger tanks
- Larger tanks are not aesthetically pleasing (unsightly)
- Gas connection results in higher installation cost
- Unlimited fuel source – refueling not necessary
- Clean burning
- Available during power outages
- May be unavailable during natural disasters (earthquakes, etc) Fuel system plumbing results in higher installation cost
- Not available in many areas
- Least flammable fuel source
- Easily obtained
- On site fuel delivery available
- 24 month shelf life
- Installing large storage tanks raises cost of system
How much outdoor space do I need for the generator?
Make sure you have adequate safe space outdoors to run the generator. In order to provide proper ventilation, depending on the generator selected, the clear space requirements can vary from 18 inches up to 8 feet in distance on all sides of the generator – check your generator manual for specifics.
Will there be any other costs that I might incur?
Other than the cost of the generator, additional costs that you may incur during the installation process:
- Electrical Installation Cost
- Gas or Liquid Propane Installation Cost
- Generator Shipping Cost
- Battery, Engine Oil, Antifreeze Cost
- Permit Fees
- Architectural Drawings (if necessary)
What if I am not home and the power goes out—Is there anything I need to do?
No, the automatic standby generator will go and do its thing normally within ten seconds, you need to do absolutely nothing.
What are standby generators?
Standby generators are fully automatic power sources that provide emergency backup power during utility power failure. We offer a wide range of standby generator models. Our smallest model generates 6/7 kilowatts (kW) of power, and our largest can generate 2 meg! The units that we sell run on either natural gas or liquid propane, or diesel. They have industrial strength alternators and are capable of running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
How do standby generators work?
The power solutions that we use are reliable, efficient and worry-free. Permanent standby generators typically connect into homes through an automatic transfer switch, or ATS. When the power goes out, the ATS will sense the loss of power and automatically disconnect the main utility lines leading into your home. It does this so that when power is restored, you won’t have to worry about electricity from your generator damaging your home or feeding back into the main utility lines. Within 10 seconds, the generator will assume that the power outage is permanent and it will fully activate and provide power to whatever circuits or appliances it is hooked into.
Are standby generators safe?
Yes, standby generators are very safe when properly installed and maintained. The modern standby generators that we sell are built for safety and reliability. Here are a few things to remember: Keep the area around the standby generator clear· Don’t let children play near or tamper with the generator or its enclosure· If you smell gas, immediately close the gas valve shut-off at the generator itself and call the installer that did the plumbing installation on your generator.
How loud are standby generators?
Standby generators vary in volume depending on the model. The following chart shows the volume of standby generators compared to common household appliances. Comparative Sound Rating Sound Levels DBA = Source of Noise
- 40 = Fan
- 50 = Washing Machine
- 60-62 = Sewing Machine
- 67 = Kohler 14kw unit (based on full load)
- 69 = Kohler 20kw unit (based on full load)
- 70 = GUARDIAN Elite generator in exercise mode at 7 meters
- 75 = Lawnmower
- 77 = Briggs & Stratton 7kW unit
- 70-79 = GUARDIAN Elite at full load at 7 meters
- 80 = Ringing telephone
- 88 = GUARDIAN Elite 30kW & 35kW Whole House Unit
- 90 = Portable generator
- 120 = Power Saw
How many types of generators are there?
There are 3 types of generators
- Automatic Standby Generators
- Portable with Electric start
- Portable with manual start
When does the generator exercise?
- Seven (7) day interval testing of the power generating system.
- You set the system to exercise at a prescribed time and day of the week. This allows you to verify that your system is in peak operating condition between utility failures.
How much will it cost to run?
Depending on the price of natural gas, during an emergency expect to pay less than $30/day for gas usage. Cheaper than a refrigerator full of spoiled food!
How long does it take for my power system to turn on when a power outage occurs?
Your power system will start and switch power to your home within 10 seconds. You will observe that the generator actually starts and runs for a few seconds before switching over. This so that the generator is allowed to adequately warm up and stabilize before the load of the electrical system is placed on it.
How long will my system run in the case of an extended power outage?
If properly maintained, your unit can run almost indefinitely. Units that are properly maintained are typically quoted with a service life of between 3,000 and 5,000 hours. This would be the equivalent of 125 days on the low end of constant usage. This type of usage would be extremely unlikely. However, if you are experiencing an extended power outage, you should keep in mind that the engine is running constantly and, like an automobile on a long road trip, you will need to have it serviced more frequently.
How long does it take to turn off after the power comes back on?
As a precautionary measure, the generator will continue to run for an additional 1 to 3 minutes after the power comes back on to ensure that the utility power is stable, as well as to allow the engine in the system to cool down before completely shutting off.
What do I have to do to take care of my power system once it is installed?
It is critical that your power system be properly maintained if it is to deliver the level of performance and reliability that you expected when you purchased it. Just like your automobile, the power system needs to be maintained with a simple mechanical maintenance schedule which includes oil changes, filter changes, battery maintenance, as well as checking a variety of electronic components and other items, much like an automobile checkup. We recommend that you have routine maintenance performed at minimum annually, or every 100 hours of operation, whichever comes first. A-lectric Company, offers several maintenance programs that vary in the frequency of visits, as well as some of our options offer discounts on any repairs that are not covered by warranty.
Can I run a computer or other sensitive electronic equipment off the generator during a power outage?
Yes, the power coming from your generator is just as safe as what you normally have coming out of the wall socket. The spikes or surges that accompany power generation (also known as “harmonic distortion”) are just a normal aspect of electricity. However, when considering sensitive or expensive electronic equipment running off a wall outlet, you should use a good surge protector to guard against small influxes in power.
- You should always consider all of your options when it comes to alternate sources of electricity.
- Generators are equipped with an electronic governors as well as mechanical governors. Both will monitor the output of power, it is best to refer to the manufacturers manual to determine what is best for you.
- Most generators are equipped with some means of voltage regulation.
Will this product increase the value of my home?
In most cases, having a generator installed not only will it pay for itself but it will increase the value of your home by several thousand dollars. Not to mention the money it can save you in basement repair costs – imagine that there’s a heavy rain and your sump pump has stopped working because you’ve lost power! It also can protect your home from frozen pipes if you were to loose your heat. At minimum, a generator provides great security from such an unfortunate occurrence. Generators can be extremely attractive to an informed buyer. In fact, many new home builders are now offering backup power systems as an optional item.
What’s the difference between running and starting watts?
The running watts of a generator equals the amount of power the unit can produce continuously, while the starting wattage is the additional power that the generator can produce for short rental periods of time to start items in your home that require larger amounts of electricity for initial start-up than when they are running. Running watts are the continuous watts needed to keep items running. Starting watts, are extra watts needed for two or three seconds to start motor-driven products like a refrigerator or AC unit.
What is the difference between portable and automatic standby generator systems?
The differences really have to do with the steps needed to have emergency power flowing into your house in the event of a power outage. Portable systems are wheeled units that require you to roll the generator outside, start it up, and hook it up to a power inlet box. From there you must go to the transfer switch panel installed near your circuit breakers and switch the power coming into your house from the main line to the generator running outside. One of the clear advantages with an Automatic Standby Generator System is that the unit turns itself on and off automatically without you ever having to leave the safety of your home. Our automatic Standby Generator Systems also exercise themselves once a week. You can even set the time when the unit will perform this diagnostics check. The generator will then be ready to run whenever needed. You can be on vacation and not worry about having a power outage while you are away.
What does Automatic Voltage Regulation (AVR) do for me?
AVR maintains steady voltage. This is important for running sensitive electronics such as computers, microwaves and televisions.
Is it okay to build an enclosure around my portable generator?
Yes, as long as the generator is taken out of the enclosure prior to operating it. Access to cooling air is vital to the proper operation of the engine. Portable generators do not have large cooling fans and are unable to circulate air in confined spaces. They rely on the natural circulation of heat resulting when the hot air rises away from the engine and is replaced by cool air.
Can I run the generator inside my home or garage?
No. The engine has toxic exhaust fumes that will build up and be fatal, in any habited area. Also, gasoline fuel and oil is highly flammable and could cause fire and explosion in housed environments. Always operate generator in well ventilated, open and non-habited areas.
Will my fuel bill increase from the generator exercising?
The increase in cost will be minimal. The generator will only be running for about 20 minutes a week.
Why is an emergency generator system so important for my business?
Your business and its operations depend heavily on a steady supply of electricity. Thus every power outage puts your company and equipment at risk! During an emergency, we will provide you with a reliable power solution that will help you endure power outages or utility breakdowns, regardless of the duration.
- Utility reliability: As the strain on the power grid increases and power quality and reliability suffer, utilities are increasingly turning to engine generators in order to satisfy their customers’ essential power needs.
- Severe weather outages: Lightning, hurricanes and ice storms cause outages lasting many hours or even days, longer than the typical battery standby system will support.
- Environmental concerns: In environments requiring air conditioning, generators eliminate the concern of thermal shutdown during a loss of utility power.
- Extended protection: Eight hour backup requirements demand sizable, expensive battery plants with life spans in the outside plant (OSP) as short as 2 – 4 years.
How much fuel do the generators use during normal operation? At exercise?
The generator fuel consumption is given in each of the product knowledge books and is also in each of the owners manuals. The fuel consumption is given at 25, 50, 75 and 100% load ratings. Use the full load consumption rate for proper pipe sizing.
What is the difference between air cooled and liquid cooled generators?
The air cooled generators employs forced air moving over an engine to cool it via fan where as a liquid cooled generator is employs an automotive style engine with an enclosed radiator system.
Can the flexible fuel line that is included with the generator be bent or angled?
No, it must be straight. Its purpose is to accommodate for any settling or vibration of the generator. If it is bent at all, the line is constricted and fuel flow is inhibited.
How large of a concrete slab do I need for a liquid-cooled unit?
The slab needs to extend a minimum of 6” beyond the base of the generator and must be a minimum of 4” thick. It may need to be thicker depending on local code.
Why should I buy a home standby generator instead of a portable generator?
While portable generators are effective in terms of backup power, a home standby generator produces a higher quality of electricity, operates automatically and exercises weekly to ensure proper response to your needs. There are no extension cords to plug in, no gasoline to retrieve or fill, and will protect your home or business while you’re away.
Can the load center switches be mounted outside?
A load center switches that is NEMA 1 rated must be installed indoors. Load center switches are available in a NEMA 3R enclosure. This means that the switch can be mounted indoors or outdoors.
Will the generator back-feed into the house or power lines when it is running or transferring?
No. The generator transfer switches are designed so that it is physically impossible for back-feeding to occur. The switches utilize a three contact system with a switching mechanism eliminating all possibility of back-feeding. The entire system is UL Listed.
Can these units be used for medical back-up?
These generators are intended for use in back up situations. Due to some of the specific needs of certain medical equipment (dialysis machines, breathing machines, etc.) the generators do not fall into the category of a medically rated generator.