For many people this time of year means we ask the same question about our electrical services: do we need a standby generator?

The reasons are many, for some of us, it’s purely the convenience of having power when the utility is experiencing an outage. For others the need for power can be far more serious, we may have medical conditions or medical equipment that requires power at all times.

Regardless of the reasons we have a couple of basic considerations before we can make a good standby power decision. Our options are Automatic permanently installed or portable.

  • Are we comfortable storing gasoline and fueling a generator as needed?
  • Are we comfortable moving a portable generator into place and making fundamental connections to our residence or business?
  • Are we comfortable operating circuit breakers as may be required to manage the load placed on the generator?
  • Is a portable generator capable of providing adequate power for your needs (see below for sizing assistance), we do not recommend a portable generator for loads larger than 10 KW or 10,000 watts.
  • Is your budget adequate for a properly installed portable generator interface/connection box?

If you answered yes to the above questions you may want to evaluate the installation of a portable generator interface outlet. The installation of a portable generator interface receptacle allows the user to connect a portable generator in a safe and foolproof manner. Once connected and the generator is running the user has the option to select loads within the residence to power by operating existing circuit breakers.

How is this done? A licensed electrician installs a main circuit breaker interlock kit on the existing residence main panel and a generator flanged inlet (this allows a cord to be connected from the portable generator to the outlet which then serves the existing residence main panel). The result is a safe code compliant portable generator integration.

The cost of this is generally less than $600.00 not including the generator.

If you are not comfortable with the portable standby generator operation or storing fuel you may wish to consider an automatic home standby power system. These systems will:

  • Provide seamless integration of standby power during an electrical utility outage.
  • Function automatically with no actions required by the user.
  • Provide long term reliability, the expected life cycle is greater than 10 years.
  • Utilize Natural Gas or Liquid Propane as a fuel source.
  • Generally run for days continuously without the need for refueling.
  • Available in sizes ranging from small (10KW) to as large as necessary. A typical home can be highly functional with a 22 KW generator.
  • Provide quiet operation (about as loud as a lawn tractor), available either liquid-cooled (utilizes an automobile engine, very quiet) or air-cooled (utilizing a 4-cycle engine similar to a lawn tractor).
  • The average cost of an installed 22 KW unit excluding a fuel tank or fuel piping is $10,000. A budget of $2,500.00 to $3,500.00 for fuel tank is average.

If the installation of a home standby unit meets your needs, check out available models here to determine which one will aid in the electrical services for your home.

How do I determine the generator size for my residence? We answer that here.