Standby Generator 101



MILWAUKEE,WI (December 17, 2012)-Whether caused by strong storms or an aging power grid in metropolitan areas of the country, more and more homeowners are looking for ways to prevent expensive and uncomfortable power outages in their homes.

Installing an automatic standby generator, commonly referred to as a home generator, is the easiest way to prevent a home from being without power in the event of an extended outage. But before a family makes the decision to install a home generator outside their home, there are some home generator basics all homeowners should know.

What Is a Standby Generator?

Automatic standby generator systems, or home generators, are professionally installed outside the home and keep a home’s power on when a home’s primary power source goes out, allowing homeowners to run appliances like air conditioners, heaters, refrigerators, clothes washers/dryers and lights. Unlike portable generators that run on gasoline, home generators are most often powered by natural gas or liquid propane.

Transfer Switch: Seamless Transition of Power
One benefit to standby generators is the seamless transition of power. A standby generator is connected to a home’s natural gas line, or propane fuel source. The transfer switch monitors the connection to utility power and when it senses an outage the standby generator turns on automatically within seconds of utility power going out. When power is restored to the home, the standby generator powers off and returns the home to utility power automatically.

Generator Exercise Schedule
Most standby generators are programmed to exercise regularly — often once a week — to help ensure they are in working condition in the event of a power outage. Homeowners typically work with their installer to determine the date and time of the exercise cycle at the time of installation.

During the exercise cycle, the standby generator will power up and simulate operation. The home will not switch from utility to backup power during these exercises. If there is any component of the generator that is not functioning properly, the unit should display a fault code, though notification of potential problems from the generator to the homeowner will differ depending on the unit’s make and model.

Generator Maintenance
While most standby generators require very little interaction by the homeowner to keep a home’s appliances and other electrical demands powered during an outage, inevitably there will be some routine maintenance required. Your local GE Generator System dealer can provide scheduled maintenance for your standby generator.