Generator FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about Generators

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What is the difference between Portable and Standby Generator Systems?

The differences have to do with the steps needed to have emergency power flowing into your house in the event of a power outage. Portable systems are wheeled units that require you to roll the generator outside, start it up, and hook it up to a power inlet box. From there you must go to the transfer switch panel installed near your circuit breakers and switch the power coming into your house from the main line to the generator running outside. After the power from your local utility is restored, you are required to reverse the setup process.

One of the clear advantages with an Automatic Home Generator System is that the unit turns itself on and off automatically without you ever having to leave the safety of your home. Our automatic Home Generator Systems also exercise themselves once a week. You can even set the time when the unit will perform this diagnostics check. The generator will then be ready to run whenever needed.

What size Home Standby Generator do I need to run electric items in my house during a power outage?

Most average homes of 1200 to 3000 sq. ft. can run critical items in the home by using an 8k watt generator. The most common items that need emergency power during a blackout would be the furnace blower motor, refrigerator, freezer, lights, TV, sump pump, and water pumps.  Larger 10k or 17k Home Standby Generators will quietly supply enough power to your home automatically, giving your family the comfort of their usual lifestyle - uninterrupted by power failure.  The even larger 17k or 20k watt generators allow you to supply power to both essential items PLUS up to 6 high wattage appliances including 2 central air units for the ultimate in comfort and freedom. 

Is it safe to run a computer or other sensitive electronic equipment with a Home Standby Generator during a power outage?

Yes! The power coming from your generator is just as safe as what you normally have coming out of the wall socket. The spikes or surges that accompany power generation (also known as “harmonic distortion”) are just a normal aspect of electricity.

However, when considering sensitive or expensive electronic equipment running off a wall outlet, you should use a good surge protector to guard against small influxes of power.

What does a Home Standby Generator typically cost?

When you choose the safety, reliability and automatic operation of a Milbank Home Generator, there are several items that contribute to the total cost, the cost of the system itself, a transfer switch, and installation charges.

Optional maintenance contracts can also add to the cost if you choose one. Costs may vary depending on the size of the unit, transfer switch used, location of installation, and permits required for installation. Contact us for a quote!

Can I run my central air conditioner on a Standby Home Generator?

Yes. A transfer switch will monitor loads on the generator, under emergency power, allowing you to run a central air unit at a 4-ton rating or less on their 12kW and 15kW Home Standby Generators.

What is a transfer switch?

A transfer switch is a device that is fed by both utility and generator power. It isolates the two types of power from each other so a back feed does not occur.  An automatic transfer switch will turn on and off automatically when generator power is needed.

National Electrical Code requires a device like this if two types of power are going to feed the house.

How do I know what size transfer switch I need?

There are many factors that will determine the size transfer switch needed (size of utility service, appliances needed to run, size of generator, etc). The transfer switches available vary from 50, 100 and 200 amps. The 100 and 200 amp transfer switches are for whole house power and feed the entire distribution panel.

For more information Call1-855-GCE-POWR or inquire with your Granite City Electric branch.