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10 Most Frequently Asked Generator Questions

For those individuals who are looking to purchase their first generator, or even for those experienced with generators, there can be a lot of questions with regards to safety, maintenance, size, type, and much more. Assurance Power Systems has compiled a list of the questions our associates are most frequently asked with regards to the generator buying process to help make your ownership experience as pleasant as possible. 

 

1. What size generator do I need? 

Generators provide homeowners with a way to power everything from their most critical appliances and systems to their entire house. The size of the generator that you’ll need will depend on what you are looking to power in the event that your electricity goes out. Size, when referenced in terms of generators, most commonly refers not to the physical size of the machine, but its electrical capacity. If you’ll want to keep your refrigerator, air conditioning, and one TV running simultaneously, you can determine the electrical capacity you’ll need by adding up the total watts of each load amount. 

We created a tool that will help you find the right generator by answering a handful of easy questions called the APS Interactive Generator Buying Guide. 

Advanced users can check out our Whole House Load Calculator and Essential Load Calculator to help get a better understanding of how generators are sized. To receive a detailed estimate from America’s premier generator provider, call 1-877-499-9500 now!

2. How much will a generator cost me?

Generators vary in cost depending on a number of factors including whether it’s a standby or portable, the electrical capacity (watts), and the features of the unit. Typically, installed standby generators start as low as $7,995 installed, while portable generators start as low as $2,795 installed. We also offer financing of generators. Maintenance plans can also help provide peace of mind and ensure the longevity of your generator. 

It’s important to remember that the value a generator can provide you and your family cannot solely be measured monetarily. Generators provide owners with a sense of security and reliability that your family will be protected in the event of an emergency. 

3. Should I purchase a standby generator or a portable generator?

Both standby generators and portable generators offer different benefits for homeowners to consider when making their purchasing decision. The main difference between standby and portable generators is the manner in which power is transmitted into your home along with the electrical capacity. 

Standby generators are permanent structures located outside of your home on a concrete base. They typically run using natural gas or liquid propane, and automatically turn on in a matter of seconds when a power failure is detected, even when you’re not home. Once utility power returns, a standby generator will power off on its own. Standby generators are understandably more expensive than their counterpart since they offer more security and peace of mind. 

Portable generators are significantly smaller in size and run on gas. Instead of automatically starting like standby generators, portable generators require you to wheel them outside and connect them using heavy-duty extension cords made specifically for generator usage. These extension cords will either be plugged directly into outlets on the generator itself or into a specially installed outlet adjacent to your breaker box. With a portable generator, you’ll only be able to connect a handful of electronics or appliances.

4. Can I just plug my portable generator into an outlet?

The simple answer is no. The more detailed answer is no, because it is not only extremely dangerous but also illegal. Plugging your portable generator directly into a standard wall outlet can cause backfeeding into the utility lines that connect to your house, causing serious injury or even death to an unsuspecting utility worker who is working to restore power or downed utility lines. There’s also the risk that by connecting your portable generator to an electrical outlet that you could overload your circuits and cause a fire. 

Having a licensed professional install a transfer switch is the best way to prevent a disaster. A transfer switch will disconnect your home from the electrical grid while allowing your generator to power your home. Transfer switches come in manual and automatic options and are recommended for both portable and standby generators. To find out more about transfer switches, call your local Assurance Power Systems office. 

5. Can I install a standby generator myself?

Standby generators require installation be performed by an experienced professional. In addition to hooking up the transfer switch, a licensed electrician will make sure that everything is installed properly so that your warranty is protected and remains valid. Regulations differ on a number of different levels, by hiring a professional to install your standby generator, they’ll make sure that you have all the necessary permits and that your generator meets any local and state electrical code requirements. 

Call to schedule an appointment with one of our authorized Generac installers today!

6. Steel or aluminum enclosure?

Overall, aluminum enclosed generators are the best choice if you want your generator to remain in good shape for years to come. In particular though, aluminum enclosures are the only choice for those buyers who live in coastal regions or those plagued with high humidity since it is naturally resistant to rust and corrosion.

7. Can I run my portable generator from inside my house? 

NO! Since portable generators run on gas and use oil, they emit exhaust which contains carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless poison that can kill an entire household within minutes. Even if it is raining or snowing, you cannot operate a generator within your garage, carport or screened porch-not even with the door open. Portable generators need to be located at least 15 feet from your home, away from doors and windows. To better ensure the safety of you and your family, make sure that you have carbon monoxide detectors installed within your home.

8. Any other safety information to remember?

Never start a portable generator with appliances already attached. Instead, turn on the generator and let it run for a couple of minutes before plugging in appliances that have been previously set to off. Plug in one item at a time, allowing the generator to stabilize after each one. 

Never add fuel to a generator that is already hot. Wait roughly 20 minutes after you turn the generator off before refueling so that the unit has a chance to cool. Refueling the generator while it’s still on or still hot could start a fire. 

When turning your portable generator off, make sure that all of the connected appliances are also powered off. Once the unit has cooled, drain the fuel from the generator to avoid destroying the carburetor. 

9. Do generators need maintenance?

Just like any other mechanical equipment, generators also need to be maintained in order to prevent permanent damage and keep your unit in proper working order. Just like a car engine, generators require periodic filter and oil changes, so check your user’s manual for recommended maintenance intervals and procedures. It’s also a good idea to do a test run of the generator each month to prevent blockage in the carburetor and to avoid any surprises so that the unit is ready for when you need it. 

A factory trained Assurance Power Systems technician can provide your standby and portable generator with 24/7 emergency response or standard maintenance services that are unsurpassed in the industry. Call 1-877-499-9500 to find out more about our Preventative Maintenance Agreements Packages and routine maintenance services!

10. How long will my generator last?

There’s no guarantee for how long your generator system will last, but with proper maintenance and care, a quality unit used for emergency power can last upwards of 20 years. Generac generators in particular are made with OHVI engines that were created specifically for generator use. These generators can provide owners with more than 30 years of reliable service and are the most trusted name in the industry. 

Contact your local Assurance Power Systems franchise with any questions you may have with regards to industrial, commercial or residential generators. We’re always available to answer your call and provide you with unsurpassed generator services!  

 

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