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Kinsley Power Systems FAQs

Residential

How much should I spend for a residential set?

For a standard, self-enclosed, fully automatic, 14 kilowatt generator and transfer switch (enough for an "average" home), you should expect to spend from $6-9,000 with installation, which can vary dramatically, based on the particulars of the home and installed location of fuel source, utility power and generator. At Kinsley Power, we suggest you do your homework when shopping for an emergency power system. Some units on the market are not designed to perform for extended periods. Some generator manufacturers skimp when it comes to putting copper in the windings for the generator end. Others will use plastic parts in place of metal. A residential generator is a large investment and - in the event of an emergency - you'll be glad that you chose a KOHLER®.

What characteristics/specifications should I be looking for in a residential generator?

  • Local service - This is a factor that many homeowners overlook when purchasing generators. Some manufacturers that sell on-line or through catalogs can't support their customers with service after the sale.
  • Warranty - Warranty is always a sign of quality. For generators, you'll want to be sure to ask if the warranty includes parts, travel time and labor. Some manufacturers have been known to include only parts and labor.
  • Engine temperature - You'll want an engine temperature specification that runs under 300 degrees. When a generator engine starts running over 300 degrees, engine oil starts to break down. As a result, in time, the life of your engine will be significantly reduced.
  • Electronic voltage regulation is a sign of a quality generator. The alternative to electronic voltage regulators - droop governors - can lead to voltage spikes. This has the potential to damage electronic equipment. A variation of only +/- 2% in voltage fluctuation is a good range; that means your power will oftentimes be cleaner than that coming from the local utility.
  • Direct drive vs. belt driven generators - direct drive generators have fewer moving parts and thus are a more reliable design. Direct drive generators are another sign of a quality system.
  • Listing - the stamp of approval by the Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) is a mark of quality. You'll want to make sure that your ATS is UL listed as well.
  • Reputation - Since your generator is an insurance policy, you'll want to pick a generator company that has a long-standing reputation for quality and extensive experience in the generator field.

What are the advantages to a standby set vs. a discount chain store portable generator?

A fully-automatic residential generator's advantages:

  • Fuel storage - Residential generators run on diesel, natural gas or liquid propane (LP) gas whereas portable generators typically run on gasoline. Over long periods of time, gasoline spoils and can corrode the engine. In addition, home standby generators are designed to be connected to large fuel tanks - a real advantage in the event of an extended power outage. This arrangement saves you the trouble of having to refuel your generator every two to 10 hours, common to most portable units on the market.
  • Reliability and durability - Residential generators tend to be higher quality (see desirable specifications FAQ above) and longer lasting. It's fairly common to hear stories of KOHLER® standby generators from the 1940s, '50s & '60s still in operation.
  • Automatic Transfer Switches - Residential generators can be wired to ATSs that will, as their name infers, automatically start your generator in the event of a power outage. In addition the switch will automatically exercise your generator once a week. Most manufacturers recommend that your generator run at least half an hour per week. It's been our experience that generators without ATSs often don't get the exercise they require. Your generator is like your car: it needs routine exercise.
  • Noise - The smaller residential sets (8.5 to 20kW) come packaged in sound attenuated housings, and are significantly quieter than portable generators.
  • Service - Typically, residential generator distributors are prepared for 24/7 emergency field service. Kinsley Power, for example, has over 30 generator technicians who travel home at night with their vans ready to respond in an emergency. Kinsley also has an extensive parts stock on hand. In the case of the discount chain stores or on-line re-sellers, there's no service after the sale.

What type of fuel should I choose when purchasing a generator?

That depends on what fuel you presently have at your house. The large majority of residential generators are natural gas or liquid propane (LP). Both are clean burning and there are few issues surrounding storage of the fuel. In the case of LP, a local propane company can regularly supply you with fuel. Natural gas has an unlimited supply as long as the gas utility main lines are operating. Diesel engines are more expensive in the short term, but tend to provide the lowest cost for the greatest output in the long term. Diesel engines are the most fuel-efficient. On the other hand, diesel generators under 100kW tend to cost more and have much larger fuel tanks.

How do I size a Generator?

You should call either one of our local dealers/installers or your local electrician to determine what your electric load will be. Remember, a licensed electrician can wire the generator to cover only parts of your house or your entire load. Of course, the larger the load, the bigger the generator and the higher the cost you will pay. Click here to estimate your generator sizing needs.

Should I have an automatic transfer switch (ATS)?

More often than not, it's a good idea. 80-90% of the generators Kinsley Power sells are coupled with ATSs. The ATS will detect any power outage and automatically start your generator, and will exercise the unit on a weekly basis. It's extremely important that your emergency power system run at least once a week, under load if possible. Keeping your generator operational is critical in an outage. If you're away on vacation and your house loses power, your generator will automatically turn on and potentially keep pipes from freezing, pumps working, freezers and refrigerators running to avoid spoilage, and the like.

How often should my generator and transfer switch be serviced?

Most manufacturers recommend at least two visits per year by a trained generator technician. One visit should include an oil change, filter changes, tune up and a complete inspection of the entire unit - both the ATS and generator. The second visit, approximately six months later, should be a shorter, more limited check of the unit. In some cases (such as hospitals or critical industrial or data center applications) more scheduled visits are recommended.

Service

How do I find out about the NFPA requirements?

Please see this document and feel free to call us with further questions.

What is a load bank service, how is it performed and what is its value?

A load bank simulates transfer of power from generator to the building, as well as prevents wet stacking within the engine. In layman’s’ terms, load banking keeps the engine clean of fuel deposits. Most importantly a load bank test confirms that your generator will carry full load during an outage. This type of testing is required by many healthcare, fire and other local codes.

Rental

What information do I need to prepare prior to calling for a rental generator?

  • Kilowatt (kw) size and voltage (if only amps and voltage are known, we can calculate the required kW size)
  • Destination of rental
  • Application of rental
  • Length of time you'll need the rental
  • Estimated run-time in hours per week or month
  • Certificate of insurance listing Kinsley Power Systems as a co-insured
  • For cable rentals, how many feet the unit will be from the electrical connection
  • Payment information
  • How you intend to service the unit/s (Kinsley Power offers service agreements)

Do you have emergency power planning packages available?

Yes. Kinsley has a special emergency planning sheet that helps you prepare for potential emergencies. If we have all the relevant information in our computer (loads, voltages, emergency numbers, credit information, certificates of insurance, etc.) we can expedite a rental in the event of an emergency. One of our rental sales associates would be happy to discuss preparing such a program with you.

As a customer, what kind of service do I need to do on rental units?

Customers are required to maintain the unit while it's on rent. Rental units running prime power should have the oil changed for every 200 hours of run time and the customer should check the oil level daily. Kinsley Power can arrange for scheduled service agreements for units on rent.

How long can rental units run between fueling?

Each Kinsley rental unit has a different fuel tank capacity. However the minimum run time is about 18 to 24 hours per generator. Kinsley Power offers 500-gallon auxiliary fuel tanks for rent to supplement run times between fueling.

In the event of an emergency, how long does it take to get a rental generator on-site?

Kinsley Power keeps its units ready for emergency dispatch 24/7. Arranging transportation, setting the appropriate voltages, receiving certificates of insurance and establishing payment are the only steps necessary before delivering a unit. As mentioned prior, emergency power planning can expedite this process. We would be happy to discuss setting up such an arrangement with your company.

How quiet are your generators?

Kinsley Rental Power generators are some of the quietest in the industry. They were designed with the events market in mind, and we've rented units at a number of golf tournaments, outdoor festivals and to broadcast companies. Our units range from 58 dBA to 70 dBA.