Standby Generators

Question

Having the power go out in your home is never an enjoyable time. Our lives are so dependent on electricity nowadays that many times when the power does go out we have no idea what to do with ourselves. Luckily, most power outages only last for a short time. Typically the power comes back on after an hour or two of it being out. But, what happens when you experience frequent power losses at your home? Or, when you do have a power loss it lasts for days instead of hours?

These power loss situations go from being an inconvenience to a big hassle. With a prolonged power loss you risk losing all of the food in your refrigerator or freezer. If you are in an extreme climate then you risk not being able to cool or heat your home. If you work out of your home or run a small business then you are unable to work. All of these are reasons to look into a standby generator.

Using a portable generator is an option, but they can be a hassle. With a portable system you have to roll it out away from your home, fill it up with fuel, route the connection extension cords, then turn it on. Then hours later you have to refuel it. It is a pain. A standby system though does it all for your automatically. When the power does go out in your home you will just see a slight flicker of the lights and then presto! Your standby system is now on and running.

Over the past few weeks we have been writing numerous articles on the topic of standby generators. This is being done due to the complexity of these machines. A portable generator can be bought online without much consideration. You determine the wattage you need and then find the one to suit your needs. Purchasing a standby generator is a bit more complex. Standby systems are not only significantly more expensive then portable systems but they also require professional installation.

Where Can I Buy Standby Generators?

Now there are many places where you can purchase a standby system, but you should be aware of the pros and cons of each. Let me first start with online shops such as Amazon.com. While you can purchase standby systems on this site I would not recommend it. In my experience a standby system should be bought only after talking with an expert in the topic. These experts can be found in various areas.

In my opinion the best place to purchase a standby system is going straight to your local dealer. While you will get a sales pitch you will also get to interact with experts on the topic. These folks deal with generators every day and know what they are talking about. If you have your heart set on purchasing a unit online then I would still recommend visiting one of these dealers. Chat with them and learn exactly what type of generator that you need. Once you have educated yourself on the topic then you can purchase online with your newfound knowledge.

However, I am still going to steer you away from online purchases when it comes to standby units. You are investing a significant amount of money on this machine and I would hate for something to go wrong and the company you bought from is unresponsive. When purchasing through a dealer you know where they are. You know who to complain to. You also will most likely get offered installation services from them as well.

That is another point that has to be considered. How are you going to have this generator installed? You not only have to have a transfer switch set up, but you need to hook the system up to your circuit board, route fuel lines either to your natural gas supply or to a liquid propane tank. On top of that you also need to be compliant with city, county, and state regulations. In some instances you may even need a permit to install a standby system. Are you prepared to jump through all of those hoops? Or, would you prefer the ‘easy button’ and work directly with a dealer? I know what I would choose.

Now there are many different standby system brands and dealers out there. I am not going to review everyone of the options but instead provide you with two links to the top brands out there today. This first link will take you to Generac’s find a dealer website. Generac is by far the most recognized name when it comes to generators. They know exactly what they are doing and you cannot go wrong with them. This is who I would purchase from.

The other option I want to make you aware of is from Kohler. This link will take you to their find a dealer section. Kohler is another very reputable brand out there and they will be able to walk you through the process of purchasing a standby generator system for your home. Some other brands to consider are Briggs & Stratton, Cummins, and Champion. These are all great brands as well and it cannot hurt to shop around between all of these brand names until you find the perfect fit for your home and your wallet.

Conclusion

The last point I want to mention before closing this article is that many of these dealers offer installation service by itself. What that means is you can purchase a unit online if you find a deal and then contact the dealer to arrange installation. Again though, I am going to try and steer you away from this approach as you just do not know what you are going to get online. If this was a much cheaper purchase then I would say go for it… but when spending multiple thousands of dollars I get concerned.

What if you get a lemon? What if the online site goes down and cannot be contacted after purchase? What if you receive a knock-off? Or, what if after you purchase you have a certified dealer come out only to find that you are missing key components or the unit itself is broken? There is so much risk here that it is best to just purchase from the dealer. As to what dealer and brand, I am going to leave that up to you!

Thanks for reading folks,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

No one enjoys losing power at their home or place of business. For many of us it is a rare event that we experience after a strong storm passes by. In most cases the power comes back on an hour or two later and we think nothing of it. Some who are a bit more prepared  may have a portable generator in storage that we dust off every once and a while to keep things going.

There are some of us though who experience power losses frequently and when they do occur the power could be out for days at a time. This is not only a major pain but it can also have other impacts. When the power is out for a substantial amount of time you could see all of the food in your refrigerator and freezer go to waste. Along with that your air conditioner or furnace will not function.

A few years back my family and I purchased a small farm way out in the Kansas country. It was very remote and one of the most peaceful places I have ever lived. The downside was that when a storm rolled through the chances of us losing power were high. When the power did go out it was often out for a significant amount of time. Since we were so rural we were not at the top of the list to get power restored.

It was during this time that we began to seriously look at purchasing and installing a standby generator system. When installed these units will automatically switch on when your home’s power goes out. The moment your power goes out you will see a slight flicker in the lights and presto, your standby system has activated. You now have power throughout your home. These standby systems are definitely the ‘easy button’ when it comes to restoring power.

There are also a lot of questions when it comes to these machines. How much do they cost? What should you look for? What does the install look like? Over the past few weeks we have tackled these topics on standby generators one by one. In today’s article we are going to focus on a big one: What size of standby generator should you purchase? Let’s dive in and take a look.

Sizing Your Standby Generator

Now before we can size your standby generator we first have to review a couple of questions. Just like with many other things sizing a standby generator is not a clear cut simple answer. There are many variables that have to be reviewed and considered before you can accurately size your system. If you purchase a system that is sized too small then you will NOT be able to power everything you wish in your home. Or, if you purchase a system that is too large then you will be wasting money as well as fuel efficiency.

One of the most vital questions is what do you hope to accomplish with your standby system? Do you wish to power everything in your home including all major utilities? Or, do you only wish to power a few appliances and electronics? The answer to this question is going to directly determine how large of a system that you need. Obviously, if you are just looking to have a backup for a few appliances then you will need a much smaller size when compared to trying to power your whole home.

The next question that you need to review is just how large is your home? The larger the home the larger the size of generator that you are going to need. This is a given. Standby generators sizes are measured in kilowatts. An example of this would be a twenty kilowatt model. For an example, lets say that you have a twenty-five hundred square foot home. This sized home would need a generator with an estimated size of twenty-two kilowatts.

Using another example, let’s say that your home is fifteen-hundred square feet. With this size home the estimated standby generator would need to be fourteen kilowatts. Or, say you only want to power a few things in your home instead of the entire home. You may be able to get away with a seven kilowatt standby system. Or, going with the other extreme let’s say you want have a very large home at three or four-thousand square feet. Maybe it is a business you are trying to power. These larger sized buildings could require an estimate of forty kilowatts.

The above examples I gave were very broad but they should give you a kind of idea on what type of standby generator your home would need. To get a bit more specific though there are generator calculators out there that allow you to add up all of your appliances and electronics in your home. It gives you an estimate of each appliance and when it is all said and done it gives you an estimated wattage used. This can then be used to determine the standby generator that you need.

My two favorite generator calculators are this one from Generac and this one from Champion. Both are great at providing you with estimates. I would recommend using both of them so that you can get two opinions on your sizing needs. This gives you the second opinion before you end up committing to something. Remember that it is best to go twenty or thirty percent higher on wattages then the estimate. This gives you wiggle room if you forgot something. It also gives you room to add appliances to your home down the road.

Notice how I said estimate when using these examples? I said this as each home is unique. I can provide estimates to you all day long but they are just that, estimates. It is impossible for me to tell you exactly what your home needs. There could be a significant difference between you and your neighbors house. Perhaps they have an energy efficient air conditioner that uses less power then yours. There are just so many variables out there.

Conclusion

As you can see from above folks there are a lot of variables that goes into sizing your standby system. While the links we provided above are great for reference they are not to be taken as gospel. If you are truly looking at purchasing a standby system then I am going to highly recommend that you reach out to a certified dealer and get their expert opinion. There are many reputable brands out there to choose from, I personally though prefer the Generac brand. They are the biggest generator brand out there today and they have a great reputation of standing behind their products.

I hope this article was helpful and thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

 

 A power loss at your home or place of business is never an enjoyable time. It takes us by surprise and cannot only cause an inconvenience but it can also result in loss of money. Without power you may not be able to work. The food in your refrigerator or freezer may spoil. You may not be able to cool or heat your home. So much of our daily life is dependent on electricity. When it does go out many of us are left wondering what to do now? The good news is that in most cases the power loss does not last long and it typically turns back on after an hour or two.

There are instances though where prolonged power loss can occur. It could be that you live in an area that receives frequent hurricanes. Or, you live in a remote area so that when a storm does hit a simple power loss could translate into days without electricity. A few years back my family and I lived on a farm on about twenty acres. It was about an hour south of Kansas City in a very rural area. I loved the tranquility of it all but we were subject to frequent power loss. It could be from the spring storms or the winter’s ice storms. Whatever the reason was when the power did go out it stayed out for many hours and sometimes days.

It was because of this that we began to look at purchasing and installing a standby generator. While portable generators were an option I did not like all the work that went into setting them up. Each and every time your power went out you had to roll out the portable unit, fill it up with fuel, set it up, route the cords, plug everything in, etc. It is and was a big hassle. Standby systems on the other hand automatically flip on the moment the power goes out in your home. You will typically see a flash of the lights as the circuit board switches over from grid power to standby power. That is it. The rest is done for you automatically.

Over the past few weeks I have been writing numerous articles and research pieces on the topic of these standby generators. The hope here is to cover every possible topic there could be on the subject and to provide my readers with information that is not easily found online today. The article below is going to focus on the various types of fuels that can be selected with your standby generator. This is assuming that you are in the market for a standby system and are doing your research before purchasing. Let’s take a look.

Standby Generator Fuel Types

 When it comes to standby generators there are three main fuel types that you can choose from. These are: Diesel, Natural Gas, and Liquid Propane (LP). Each of these fuel types have their own pros and cons. For example, a diesel powered standby generator is going to last the longest. As we all know, diesel vehicles last longer then standard gasoline vehicles. The same rule applies here. A diesel generator is going to last longer then a natural gas or liquid propane model. The downside here is that diesel can be expensive and that the fuel tank can only hold so much. You are limited by the amount of diesel you have on hand. If you have an extended power loss for two, three, or more days then you could run out of diesel and have to arrange a refueling.

Another option to review is natural gas. A natural gas standby generator would be hooked directly up to the natural gas line that is already running into your home. These gas lines are routed from the city and the gas that flows is practically unlimited. As long as the city has the gas to sell then you will have supply. These types of systems are great as you never have to worry about refueling the generator. The downside here is that only some homes have natural gas lines routed to them. Many rural homes do not have this as a viable option. The other downside here is the overall expense of natural gas. In many instances folks can be surprised just how expensive natural gas is. If you go this route then it is best to research the cost of natural gas and to also watch the seasonal pricing trends so that you know what to expect.

The last fuel type to mention is liquid propane, or LP. An LP standby system works similar to how the diesel fuel type does. You will need a fuel tank on hand in order to supply your generator. The main difference here is that liquid propane tanks are very common when it comes to rural living. When I lived out in the country we had a dedicated propane tank for our furnace, gas oven, and water heater. It gave us all the heat we needed and we only had to fill it up once a year in August. The downside of LP is that you are again reliant on your fuel supply. If you run out of fuel then your generator cannot run.

Conclusion

In my opinion folks there is not one fuel type that is better over the others. They each have their own benefits and drawbacks. In the end they are all going to accomplish the same thing: Providing you and your family with power. If I had to pick out of these three choices then I would opt for the liquid propane. This may be because of my rural background but in most cases rural homes already have a liquid propane tank on the property. It could be used for furnace heat, oven, or even your water heater. Your generator can use this same existing fuel tank. Or, if you wanted to you could purchase a separate tank just for the generator.

As I said before, natural gas is a great option as you have that unlimited supply coming in from the city/county. The downside of this is that you are dependent on the city. If there truly is a natural disaster then can you rely on the city’s gas lines? With liquid propane you have your tanks filled up for the season and you are good to go. The only risk you have here is that you run out but if you have a large enough tank you should be just fine. This is why I recommend purchasing a separate liquid propane tank so that you can have one tank specifically dedicated to the generator without worry of your other appliances leeching off of it.

Ultimately though, the choice is yours. I do hope though that this article was able to inform and educate you on the various options so that you can make the correct decision.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

Question Marks

No one is a fan of the power going out in their home. It is never expected and when it does occur you are left without so many things. In today’s world it seems that everything takes power rather it be your phone, computers, television, refrigerator, furnace, and air conditioner. If you live in an area that is prone to power outages rather it be due to blizzards, high winds, or hurricanes then it may be worth looking at purchasing a standby generator whole home system.

These standby systems can power your entire home automatically at the first sign of your power going out. In most cases when the power does go out you will see a flicker of the lights for a second or two and then presto, your standby system is now on and providing power to your home. There are other options out there to provide your home with emergency power, but standby systems are going to be your most reliable and most efficient.

How Long Can They Run?

A common question on these standby systems though is how long can they run? Lets say that you live up north around one of the Great Lakes. While I live in Kansas now I grew up around Port Huron and know exactly how much snow that can happen in just a days time. In many cases this extreme snowfall can lead to power outages… sometimes for days at a time depending on how remote you are.

My grandfather has a home up by Bad Axe, Michigan and every year he loses power during the winter. Luckily, he has a wood furnace to warm his home, but what about his other appliances? He did not want to sit around and wait for the power company to make their way out so he opted for purchasing a standby generator system from Generac. One of the questions that he had before purchasing a standby system was how long it could run during these longer power outage events?

In theory a standby whole home generator can run indefinitely. To answer my grandfather’s question though we first need to understand what fuel type your standby system is. The length of a time a unit can run all depends on the fuel that the generator takes. Most standby systems have three different fuel choices to choose from. Diesel, Liquid Propane, and Natural Gas. I listed these from shortest lasting to longest.

Diesel standby units are typically the shortest lasting units due to the limitation of their fuel tank. You can only store so much diesel in your fuel tank before you run out. In most cases a diesel standby generator can last between twenty-four hours to seventy-two hours of constant running before your fuel supply runs out.

The next option, our middle of the road selection, is liquid propane or LP. Now an LP generator is again limited by its fuel tank BUT an LP fuel tank is typically much larger then a diesel tank. As an example, lets say you have a five-hundred gallon LP tank filled up to capacity at four-hundred gallons. With that amount of fuel on hand you can expect your generator to run for a solid week, or seven days. You may even go slightly over that amount. If you are in a situation with an extended power loss be sure to reach out to your local fuel supply company to arrange top-offs or refuels during the power outage.

For many of us out in the country diesel or LP are the only options that we have to choose from. Being rural is nice but often times you are limited. As an example, the third option to fuel your standby generator is natural gas. The only real downside here is that you have to have a natural gas line routed to your home. The good news is that if you do then your standby system can run indefinitely as the fuel is constantly being fed in from the city’s utility company. As long as you are willing to pay for the natural gas then you will never run out.

Oil

If you are going to be running your generator for an extended period of time then I need to mention to you the importance of oil. Just like with any engine oil is the lifeblood of your generator. Without oil your generator can overheat and even catch on fire. Oil cools the engine. Oil provides lubrication. Oil promotes a healthy life of your generator. Through extended use the engine will burn oil. It will happen.

If your generator is running for an extended period of time then the engine can overheat. When the engine overheats more oil is burnt. Most professionals recommend turning off the generator periodically to let it cool down. This should be done once every twenty-four hours. During this cool off period you can also check the oil level of your generator’s engine. This is vitally important. Without adequate oil you could seriously harm your standby system.

Do NOT put oil in the engine while the engine is still running… or even while the engine is still hot. It is always best to wait for it to cool down before adding oil. Also, when adding oil to the generator be sure not to overfill the system. This can cause a whole other host of problems. It is best to have just the right amounts of oil. Depending on how long the generator has ran you may also need to do a complete oil change. Manufacturers typically recommend oil changes after about two-hundred hours of operation.

Generator engines come in two different categories. There are the thirty-six-hundred rotations per minute and then the eighteen-hundred rotations per minute. The eighteen-hundred models run cooler and use less oil then their counterparts. If you are expecting long term power outages then it is recommended to go with the eighteen-hundred RPM unit over the thirty-six-hundred. Note though that the eighteen-hundred models are going to be more expensive.

Conclusion

As I stated previously in this article folks it is all going to depend on the fuel type of your standby system. If you have not already purchased a standby system yet then I recommend that you review all of your fuel options before purchasing. Personally, I am the biggest fan of liquid propane. With LP you are not reliant on the city’s natural gas supply and if you plan ahead you should have your LP tank completely full and ready for emergencies.

In fact, many folks have a separate LP tank installed JUST for their standby system. Their other LP tank would be used for their day to day activities such as using the oven, water heater, and furnace. In my opinion this is the smartest way to go about it. But, as always, ultimately the choice is up to you.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

Question

Having the power go out at your home or business is never a fun time. This holds especially true if the power is out for hours or even days at a time. In the best case scenario you are inconvenienced and in the worst case all of the food storage you have in your refrigerator or freezer spoils. Now most folks do not experience power losses that often and when they do it is only out for a few minutes or hours at a time. But, if you are one of the unlucky ones that has constant power outages for extended periods of time then it may be time to look for a solution.

There are two main solutions when it comes to generating power during an outage. The most commons is known as the portable generator. I won’t get into all of the details on these within this article but in short they give you temporary power for some of your appliances. Typically they cannot power your entire home. They also have to be manually setup each and every time your power goes out. This can be a hassle. Depending on the model you choose they can also be quite noisy and disruptive to your family or to your neighbors.

The other option to review is going with a standby generator. Standby generators can power your entire home and automatically turn on within a few seconds of your power going out. They are by far the easiest solution for power but they are also the most expensive. Typically you can spend anywhere from four to ten-thousand dollars on a standby generator and then you also have to pay for the installation which can cost just as much as the generator itself.

How Loud are Standby Systems?

A common question that we receive on standby generators is exactly how loud they are. Now, before I answer your question lets first look at the noise levels of a portable generator system. There is a wide range here but most often you will see portable systems between seventy to one-hundred decibels. That one-hundred decibel volume is equivalent of a lawn mower or motorcycle running nearby. It is loud and disruptive. The seventy decibel volume isn’t as bad as it is about the sound of being inside a car going down the highway. There is noise there, but it is not all encompassing.

In many neighborhoods there are ordinances when it comes to noise levels. These are put in place to prevent disruptive noises from taking over the peacefulness of the area. Each neighborhood is different but typically anything over seventy decibels is seen as disruptive and will not be able to be run. If you are not in a neighborhood but are within city limits then you should also check your city’s laws to ensure that you are compliant. If you are out in the country though with no nearby neighbors then the only thing you need to worry about is the comfort of you and your family. If you can stand the sound of a motorcycle nearby then by all means go with it.

Ok folks, so now that we have some basic knowledge on generator decibel levels let us look at standby systems. From my research I have found that standby systems typically range between sixty-five to eighty decibels. There are of course models exceeding that level and falling below. Generac, one of the most popular standby manufacturers out there, has a 6462 Guardian model that comes in at fifty-eight decibels. This is equivalent to a normal conversation happening nearby. It is very quiet. There are other standby models out there, like the Briggs & Stratton 40450, that have decibel levels at seventy-five.

One thing to keep in mind here is that the quieter the machine the more expensive it will be. A quiet generator is a much desired feature and in order to achieve it you are going to have to pay more. This is why we see the Generac model as the quietest and the Briggs & Stratton as one of the loudest. Generac is seen as a premium brand name in the generator world. While Briggs & Stratton is just fine as well, they are not the premium product.

Conclusion

In conclusion folks it really depends on what you want and what your local laws and ordinances allow. You could go with a very loud portable generator system and have it sound like a motorcycle is running nearby. Or, you could shell out the cash and go for the ultra quiet Generac standby model. My suggestion is to go with the middle of the road approach and find a model that is right around sixty-five to seventy decibels. This will still give you an overall quiet machine but will also save you some money.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

Question

Going through a power loss is never an enjoyable time. The good news is that in most situations the actual power loss only lasts a few hours before it flickers back on and everything goes back to normal. But, what do you do when your power is out for a day or days at a time? How do you cope? In some cases it is just an inconvenience as you cannot watch your favorite television show, movie, or play a game.

In other cases though it can get more serious such as a power loss event in the middle of summer. My family and I live in Kansas and the summers here can be quite brutal. Typically between July and August we will have weeks at a time where the high temperatures reach over one-hundred degrees and the lows are in the eighties. If your air conditioning is out due to a power loss then it is not only going to be uncomfortable but it could also be dangerous.

To cope with these power losses many folks turn to generators. There are two main types of generators: The portable and the standby whole home models. Portables offer a cheap quick fix option but they are dirty, heavy, dangerous, and have to be manually setup each and every time the power goes out. A standby whole home generator system is the exact opposite. Once the unit has been installed and is operating correctly there is no setup required. When the power does go out you will only notice a flicker of the lights before the standby unit comes on. Presto! You have power again.

The biggest problem with standby systems are their cost. In most cases you can expect to pay about four-thousand dollars all the way up to twelve-thousand dollars for the system. Then you also have to factor in the cost to install the standby generator. Typically the installation costs are about the same as the purchase cost. So, if you spent five-thousand dollars on a standby system then you can expect to pay another five-thousand dollars on the installation cost.

Are They Tax Deductible?

Now, let me first preface this section saying that I am by no means a tax expert. My findings below are what I have discovered through researching and reading several different sources on the matter. That being said, since standby systems are such a significant expense many folks wonder if they can qualify for tax breaks. After all, you could end up spending ten-thousand dollars or more on the system… it would be nice if you could write some of that expense off when you do your taxes.

So, lets get to the bad news first. In most cases standby systems are NOT tax deductible. You have to remember that a standby system is not like a wind or solar power system. Standby systems have an engine that burns through natural gas or liquid propane. This is not a clean climate friendly solution. Typically you see government tax credits going towards the more environmentally friendly solutions such as solar or wind power. There are not any government programs out there that offer tax credits for installing a standby system.

There is one catch, or loophole though, when it comes to tax credits on standby generators and that is medical expenses. If the standby system that you are installing will be powering medical equipment for you or someone in your family then you could receive a tax credit based on the difference between your the value your home raised and the total bill to purchase and install the generator.

Lets look at this a bit further. Most standby systems will raise your home’s value by about half the cost of the system/install. Again, if you spend ten-thousand dollars on the purchase and install of your system then you can expect to see your home’s value to raise by five-thousand dollars. The difference between that final ten-thousand dollar bill and your home’s raised value is five-thousand dollars. This is the amount of a tax credit that you could receive if you are powering medical equipment with the standby system.

The only other avenue I can see standby systems and tax credits working out is if you own a business and that business needs the standby system in order to function. Say for example you own a restaurant and you need your freezer and refrigerators to be constantly powered. A power loss could mean a loss of thousands of dollars of food. Purchasing a standby system for your business could be written off as a business expense. Before doing this though I would make certain that you can justify the purchase of the standby generator for your business. What repercussions are there if you lose power? How much of a loss is involved? Does the standby generator make sense?

Conclusion

Again, I am not a tax professional here and if you want to pursue this further I would recommend reaching out to an accountant or a tax professional before you decide to purchase your standby system. They will be able to tell you for certain on rather or not you can receive a tax credit or even a business deduction when it comes to the purchase and install of your standby generator.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

Question

Going through a power loss is never an enjoyable time. In most cases the power comes back on within a few hours or so, but in other more severe cases the power may be out for days at a time. These prolonged periods without power can lead to boredom but it can also lead to loss of refrigerated/frozen food as well as having your home’s temperature rise or fall to uncomfortable levels. I remember a time back when my oldest daughter was just an infant we had our power go out in the middle of July. We live in Kansas and July temperatures can routinely be over one-hundred degrees. We needed air conditioning and had taken to hunkering down in the basement to try and stay cool. Luckily, in our situation the power came back on after only a few hours.

It is when you face prolonged power outages that it makes sense to seriously look at purchasing a standby generator. Sure a portable generator can help you out as well but these systems cannot power your entire home, they are noisy, and have to be manually setup each and every time. One of the biggest downfalls though of using a portable generators is safety. As many of you know portable generators produce carbon monoxide when running. This is the same substance that your car burns when running.

It is imperative that portable generators never be placed in your home or even close to your home. This includes your garage, near your windows, or anywhere else nearby. Most professionals recommend placing portable units at least twenty feet away from your home with the exhaust chute pointed away. If the threat of carbon monoxide is not taken seriously enough then there can be dire consequences to you and your family.

But what about on standby generators? What is the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning when using a standby system? Over the past few months we have been writing article after article on standby generators and today’s topic is no different. What is the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning when dealing with a standby generator system?

Standby Systems & Carbon Monoxide

The good news here folks is that the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from a standby generator is much much lower then that of a portable system. Now, I’m not going to lie to you and say that there is no risk at all. The standby system, just like the portable system, has an engine. This engine when ran produces carbon monoxide from the spent fuel. This is how your car works. There are a few main differences that set standby generators apart from portable generators.

As I said before, both of these systems will produce carbon monoxide… but some will produce more then others. For example, depending on the fuel your standby system is using it will most likely produce less carbon monoxide then a standard diesel or gasoline portable generator model. Typically a standby system will either use natural gas or propane. Both of these produce less carbon monoxide then a standard gasoline or diesel burn found with portable generators.

The most important difference though with standby systems is that they are, or should be, installed by professionals. These professionals do these installations frequently and know exactly how and how not to setup the systems. They will determine how close the unit is to your home, how close it is to the fuel lines, where the exhaust is blown to, and even where the wind is blowing so that the monoxide is blown away from your home.

If you were using a portable system then the chances are that you are NOT going to know all of this information. There are still so many folks today that set these portable systems up in their garages with the exhaust vent pointed outwards thinking that they are being safe. Worse yet are some people running generators in their closets INSIDE their home. All of this is a recipe for disaster. But, let’s say you have setup your portable system outside of your home and have everything plugged in. The unit is working but it is only ten feet away from the home, the window is open, and the wind is blowing. Monoxide can sneak into your home and begin to accumulate. With a standby system you can rest assured knowing that the unit was setup correctly and safely.

One last thing to mention here is that your standby systems will require regular maintenance. If this maintenance is not done then the amount of carbon monoxide it produces can increase. Remember, that carbon monoxide forms during incomplete combustion of the fuel. If your generator’s engine is not taken care of then it will become less efficient which will result in less fuel being used during the combustion process which will result in more monoxide forming. So, it is not only important to maintenance your system for its longevity but also for the safety of you and your family.

Conclusion

To answer the question in this article, yes, standby generators do produce carbon monoxide. The thing to remember that it is less then your standard portable system and that they are installed by professionals that know what and what not to do. As a safety precaution though I highly recommend having carbon monoxide detectors installed throughout your home to ensure that if it is getting in then you can recognize it and leave the home. It is always better to be safe then sorry.

Remember that while generators can be a lifesaver during a power loss they can also be quite dangerous. It is up to you to take the proper precautions to ensure that you and your family are safe. Lastly, please note that this article is intended for informational purposes only. We here at ToughAssTools are not liable for any property damage or personal injuries that can occur when operating generators.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools

Having the power go out in your home is never an enjoyable time. At best you are without power for a few hours and have to find a way to entertain yourself without all of the wonders of technology. At worst your power is out for days, your house gets too cold/hot, and all of the food in your refrigerator and freezer spoil. Power losses can be expensive if they are not resolved right away. It can also be a hassle if your power goes out rather frequently.

A few years back my family and I lived on a farm on about twenty acres. I loved how peaceful it was. There were no neighbors for miles. But, there was a downside. In the spring and summer our power would go out frequently due to severe storms. We live in Kansas which is right in the heart of Tornado Alley. When these storms did occur and our power went out it could sometimes take at least a day sometimes more to get the power back on.

This was a huge inconvenience to our family. When these did occur we started using a portable generator to get us by, but after repeated instances of no power we began to look at standby generators. You see with a portable system you have to roll it out, fill it up with fuel, and then manually connect all of the cords required to power your home. It is not an easy process. But, with a standby system you do not have to do anything. It is all done for you automatically. When the power goes out you will only see a flash of lights and then bam the power is right back on.

How Much is Install?

Over the past few weeks I have been writing numerous articles on standby generators. One of the most common questions I see is exactly how much these units cost and how much to expect for installation. Throughout my research I have found that most folks say that the installation cost will be about the same as your purchase price. So, if you bought a five-thousand dollar standby generator then you can expect to pay about five-thousand dollars for installation as well.

Now, this rule may not hold as true as you start going up into the more expensive standby units. For example, if you bought a fifteen or twenty-thousand dollar system then you are not going to pay twenty-thousand dollars for install. It will be lower… but the cost will still be significant.

Installing these systems is not an easy feat and requires multiple people to come to your home. The first is a technician from the actual dealer that you bought the generator from. These guys should know generators front and backwards. When they come to your home they will determine the best spot to place your standby system. It should be located close to the circuit board but also close to the fuel supply rather that be a gas line or a propane line. Along with the technician you will also need a plumber to run the fuel lines correctly and safely. You may also need the county or city to come out and inspect the proposed placement to ensure that you are meeting code. Lastly, you may even need an electrician to help connect the automated transfer switch on your circuit board.

As you can see from above, there is a reason these installation costs can be so high. The good news here is that the dealer that you are going through to purchase your standby system should be very familiar with this process and may even have a list of contacts and names that they recommend to help get the job done quicker.  I cannot emphasize to you enough though that you should not try to install these units yourself. There are a lot of moving parts, a lot of considerations, and a lot of risk rather it be through working with electrical lines or fuel lines. It is best to leave this install to the experts and pay for installation cost.

Conclusion

When it comes to standby generators folks it is a matter of convenience. Do you want to pay for the hefty price to purchase and install a standby system to protect you and your family from power losses? Or, do you want to save the money and do the manual work of rolling out a portable unit every time your power goes out? Ultimately, the choice is yours. Do you choose money or convenience?

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

Investing in a standby generator for your home can be a big decision. They are not cheap but they can provide you and your family with security in that if your power does go out there will be nothing to worry about. Your standby unit will kick on automatically and your home can function just like it did before while on the grid. The fact that these standby systems are automatic AND that there is none of the manual setup that comes with portable generators is enough to sell many people on the idea.

The hesitation occurs when you really begin to look at the cost involved to purchase and install one of these systems. Typically a standby system can range between four all the way up to ten-thousand dollars depending on the size, brand, and features that you choose. Along with purchasing the actual unit you will also need to pay for the installation. In many cases the install costs just as much as the unit itself. So, if you purchase a five-thousand dollars standby system then you can expect to pay another five-thousand dollars for the installation.

This investment into your home begs the question, will you get your money back? If you purchase a standby system will it raise your home’s value? From my research I have found that in most cases a standby system WILL raise your home’s value… but by only half of your investment. So, using the example we just mentioned above on the ten-thousand dollar unit/install your home would see its value raise by only five-thousand dollars.

The remaining five-thousand dollars would be sunk cost. This is why I recommend only purchasing a standby system if you plan on staying in the home for a significant amount of time. If you are going to be selling in a year or two then a standby system may not be worth it. However, if you plan on staying in the home for five years, ten, or even longer then it will make sense to pay for the remaining difference.

In conclusion, do not purchase a standby system with the idea of raising your home’s value. Yes, it can raise the value slightly but you will not get all of your money back. Only purchase these systems if you suffer from frequent power losses AND you plan to stay in the home for years. Otherwise, you are just throwing money down the drain.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

Question

If your home experiences power losses frequently then it may be time to look at purchasing a standby generator, or a whole home generator. These standby systems automatically detect when a power loss occurs and will switch your circuit board away from the power grid and over to the standby system within seconds of the power going out. In most cases you will just see a flicker of the lights as the switch occurs. After that it is smooth sailing and your home can function just like it did before when you were receiving power from the grid.

These standby systems are a great investment. A few years back my family and I lived quite a ways out in the country on a small farm of about twenty acres. It was absolutely beautiful and I miss it every day… but it was not perfect. I live in Kansas and during the spring and summer we can have some significant thunder storms. Since we were so far out and away from the city our power went out quite frequently. We also had the same problem in the winter with ice or blizzards. It became an occurrence we were all too familiar with.

We had a portable generator we could use for back up but it was a hassle. You had to roll it out in place. You had to fill it up with fuel. You had to hook up all of the extension cords and even then you still couldn’t power everything in your home. A standby system however could power our whole home. This is when my wife and I seriously started looking at purchasing a standby system. While these are the best option for power loss at your home they can be quite expensive as well.

You can expect to pay between four to ten thousand dollars for a standby system and THEN you have to pay for the installation. Typically the install is the same as the purchase price. So, if you purchased a five-thousand dollar system then you can expect to pay about five-thousand dollars for the install for a total cost of ten-thousand dollars. As I said before, standby systems are an investment. Only purchase these if you plan on staying in your home for a while and you do experience frequent power outages.

One of the questions we came across when researching standby systems is how long do they last? After all, I am not about to spend ten-thousand dollars on one if they are only going to last five or ten years. This ladies and gentlemen is where this article comes into play.

How Long Do They Last?

Before I give you the answer to this question we need to understand that how long your standby system lasts depends on two main variables. The first is how often are you running the generator? If you have a ton of power losses and are running it for thousands of hours per year then it is going to shorten the life span. The other important question here is maintenance. If you are performing proper maintenance on your generator then you can expect to truly achieve the longest lifespan. However, if you neglect maintenance and just ignore the system until you need it then you could significantly shorten the life span of your system. The other day I wrote an article on the maintenance required on standby generators which can be found by clicking here. Here is another article outside of ToughAssTools that provides many great tips on maintenance as well.

With all that being said the numbers I found when researching this topic stated that a standby system can last for about twenty-thousand to thirty-thousand operating hours. Now most folks said that the twenty to thirty thousand number equates to about a twenty to thirty year life span of the generator. But, as I said before, it all depends on how many hours you are operating the unit. For example, let’s say you are averaging about twelve-hundred hours of generator operating time per year. Let us also say that your generator will last around twenty-five thousand operating hours. Now it is just simple math of dividing twenty-five thousand by twelve-hundred to get us a number of twenty. So in this example your generator would last for twenty years.

I am sure that if you genuinely care of your generator and do not run it often you could see it last for thirty years. That number I gave above is a range. There are going to be exceptions. I see no reason why a generator that is sparingly used could last for thirty plus years. Again, take that same example above and instead of twelve-hundred hours a year call it seven-hundred. That math works out to about a thirty-five year life span.

Conclusion

All in all folks it really depends on how well you take care of your generator and how often you are running it. The numbers I gave you above were rough estimates. If you are serious about purchasing a standby generator I would make it a point to ask the longevity question to the dealer that you are working with. If the dealership is helpful you may even find that some brands last longer then others. Personally, I have always been a fan of the Generac brand. They are the most recognized and have the largest market share. That is NOT to discount the other brands out there though. Do you research and determine what is right for you and your family.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com