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Aug 11

Important Factors To Compare Between Home Standby Generators

By: Patti Dineen


There’s no surprise here: homeowners use comparisons as a part of the decision making process prior to any large purchase— standby generators are no different.
Making comparisons between similar generators will help you to figure out which generator is best suited for your home, ensuring you find the model that best meets your power needs.
If you haven’t already, conduct a power audit on your home (a professional can certainly help) to assess how much backup power your generator will have to supply. Your ideal choice should be based on which generator has the features to most efficiently meet that amount of power.

Choosing The Correct Transfer Switch

Transfer switches are an integral part of all back-up generator systems. Typically, a "transfer switch" is designed to supply power to an electrical circuit from multiple power sources. A transfer switch is necessary in order to isolate the generator from the utility system when you install a back-up generator to your facility/home's wiring system. Transfer switches are absolutely necessary; it is illegal to connect a standby generator directly to any point of the electrical wiring without a transfer switch, because of the possibility of "back-feeding." Back-feeding occurs when electricity runs backward out of the house and through the utility transformer.

Picking the right transfer switch is a crucial consideration for all installations— a majority of residential standby generator manufacturers offer transfer switches specifically designed to work with their standby generators. In the end, it’s the transfer switch that controls what receives power during an outage and what does not, so your choice may mean the difference between staying warm in the winter, or cool in the summer. Many local state laws require that a transfer switch is installed by a licensed electrician, so it is wise to be sure to check local electrical codes before attempting to install one yourself.

Generator Location

Throughout the decision-making process, be mindful of where you intend to place your generator. Some models are ideal for small yards and install closer to the home, taking up less space, while others are not suited well for small yards. Be sure to find a spot that’s away from windows, doors and vents. It’s also important to consider the relative environment— if you live on the coast, there’s salt in the air which leads to corrosion. Do your research beforehand and select a model that fits your home’s unique requirements. A prospective dealer can assist homeowners to determine optimal generator placement on the property. The dealer will also figure out if any custom installation work will be necessary. Generally, custom installation focuses on factors like burying wires underground or adding a concrete pad for the generator to be installed on.

Fuel Type & Capacity

Typically, home standby generators are power by either LP Gas (propane) or natural gas— some models are powered by diesel though. The dealer will also discuss which fuel option (natural gas or liquid propane) is accessible and will work best for your home's generator system. In almost all instances, the dealer will suggest a generator that uses the fuel option that is already being used in the home.

Fuel use on all generators is directly related to electrical load. The size of the engine sets the minimum fuel use without an electrical load. As the electrical load increases fuel use also increases as the engine has to provide more power while running at the same speed.

Important comparisons to make are the specifications for full-load and half-load fuel consumption.

Kinsley Power Systems

As the exclusive distributor of Kohler Power Systems solutions in Western New England, Kinsley focuses on the specification, sales, service and rental of permanently installed generators, transfer switches, and switchgear (from 8.5kW home systems to 3.25MW industrial generators). Kinsley's residential sales are through our extensive dealer network of over 150 Kohler-certified dealers with extensive generator expertise.  Locate one in your area here.


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