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Getting The Most From Your Standby Generator

If your utility company can’t supply electricity to your home or business for whatever reason, standby generators can supply power. The power can go out for several reasons, including deliberate vandalism or sabotage, traffic accidents, animal damage, although equipment failures and storms are the two most common causes of a power outage. In households that are powered by alternative energy sources like solar or wind, generators will be used often. This is because sometimes, there isn’t enough power generated by the sun or wind which is a common problem for off grid users.

Of course, most of us still rely on electricity to keep our home or business functioning, regardless of the reason for the power disruption. The following five topics discuss some of the basic regarding home standby generators.

Automatic Operation

In the event of your power going out, a standby generator will turn on automatically. It is permanently in place, just like your hot water heater or furnace, but unlike a portable generator.

A power outage is detected immediately and your standby generator will come on automatically if the power doesn’t come back on after a few seconds. In a matter of seconds, the automatic transfer switch connects the building to the generator supply, having disconnected it from the utility power source.

The generator shuts off and reconnects the building to the main power source once the utility power comes back on.

Essential Power

Most of us rely more on electrical power at work or at home than ever before.

We take it for granted that our home will be warm during the winter, cool in the summer, and that the sump pump in our basement will keep water out. We don’t give a second thought to the refrigerator that keeps our food safe to eat, or the electronic devices we use every day. Of course, they are all powered by electricity and without electricity, most of us would experience disastrous results – spoiled food, a flooded basement, and a home too cold or too hot to live in.

Offices, homes and businesses can also continue to operate efficiently and normally with standby generators, and companies relying heavily on the telephone can continue to operate normally.

Our homes stay comfortable and safe, and business remain open with a standby generator.

Fuel Supplies

Natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas (propane) are the two most common fuels used for standby generators in homes or businesses. A generator can run for several weeks on natural gas, and a generator can also run for an extended period of time on propane, depending on the generator’s requirements and the size of the tank. Keep in mind that you will need to refill a propane tank on a regular basis.

Verify with your gas utility company that your meter will be able to supply enough gas, and keep in mind that a standard gas meter used in the home may not have enough capacity to supply a larger standby generator. To determine whether the regulator on your storage tank is adequate for your needs, contact your LP gas supplier.

Power Capacity

Generators have two different ratings allocated to them, and these are known as the continuous rating and the maximum power rating. These two types of rating will be applied based on natural gas usage and LP gas usage, as some generators provide more power with LP gas than with natural gas. The amount of power in kilowatts or watts that can be supplied continuously by the generator is known as the continuous rating, while the maximum rating or surge rating is the power supplied during a short period.

The amount of power used also affects the amount of fuel used, and the amount of fuel used can vary as the amount of power used varies. More fuel is used on higher power levels.


Standby generators need to be properly maintained and serviced as per the instructions in the owner manual, if you expect it to supply your electricity for days, perhaps even for weeks at a time. As a general rule, reckon on servicing your generator once a week or every 200 hours, and you should routinely change the oil and filter, change the air filter and replace the spark plugs. If you are expecting a long power outage, keep spare parts at hand.

Be sure to keep the vents clean and unobstructed so that they can provide air flow to the engine and keep the device cool. Remove any snow, ice, grass, leaves or other debris and never cover the vents.