Once upon a time we considered cell phones, garage door openers and central air conditioning luxuries. The same goes for standby generators. While your body needs water to survive, your home needs electric. And, just like that—you could be without it.
Tom Tynan: Standby generator owner
Besides keeping his A/C going and preventing food spoilage, Tom needs electric to appear on HomeShow Radio. Either of those first two reasons is enough for many people to consider a standby generator. The third reason, though, made getting one a must for Tom.
The Standby Generator Process
Generator Power Systems’ Jim Fish performed a site survey and load calculation to decide which size generator would meet Tom’s needs. Choosing a generator without both these steps sets you up for problems.
Generator capacity is finite; it can produce just so much electricity. If you ask it to do more, the generator can literally tear itself apart trying to meet the need. This happens more often than you think. That’s because some installers will match generator to budget not to the calculated demand.
“We could make a good living from replacing undersized generators,” says Jim. “Without an accurate load calculation, you’re rolling some mighty expensive dice.”
Kohler made Tom’s generator choice easy
After pouring a concrete pad and upgrading the gas meter, it was time for installation. After looking at a number of brands, Tom chose a Kohler 20kw standby generator. This new model is designed to only need 18-inches of clearance from his house—perfect for his back yard.
“More and more of our customer are choosing Kohler generators,” Jim tells us. “The build quality and integrity of their components make it more than worth the minimal price difference.”
Extending generator capacity
When the power goes out, an automatic device called a transfer switch disconnects the house from power lines and starts the generator. It’s a process that takes all of ten seconds.
Given the amount of electric Tom’s house uses, a 20kw standby generator cannot power everything. But, by using a process called Load Shedding, his system prioritizes circuits to allow for more coverage.
While you can’t stretch amps, you can spread them around selectively. The upstairs A/C is considered a secondary priority. When Tom runs the clothes dryer, his transfer switch automatically turns off the circuit for the A/C and allows the dryer to run. When he’s done, the A/C is switched back on.
The expensive way to get the right generator
Investing in an automatic standby generator starts with doing your homework. Understanding the importance of matching generator to demand will prevent you from getting an inadequate one that will only wind up needing repair, or worse: replacement. That’s the expensive way of getting the right generator for you home.
“Jim said I’d be happy next time the power went out,” says Tom. “Honestly, I can’t wait.”