Written by Larry Cook

Key Considerations When Buying a Standby Generator – Part 1

You have decided to buy a standby generator for your home or business because power outages have caused problems in the past. The following discusses 10 key considerations for purchasing a system that is right for you. Remember to consult with a reputable and experienced licensed electrician for your safety and the best results. 

1) Power Requirements

Although budget is a factor, what will chiefly determine generator size is the power needed when there is an outage. Will the entire facility need electricity or only emergency loads? If it is the entire building, summer peak demands and electrical service amperage will be factors.

In the case of just emergency loads, the emergency circuits will need evaluation. The electrician may need to route emergency circuits from the main electrical panel into an emergency panel for existing structures. In the case of a home standby generator, the homeowner can decide whether or not to implement this. However, a facility like a hospital will require that certain loads have emergency backup to comply with code.

2) Fuel Type

Typically the fuels used by standby generators are propane, natural gas, and diesel. Although gasoline is more readily available, most experts consider it substandard because its stability is short-lived.

When selecting between a natural gas and diesel generator, the cost of either fuel can be a factor because their pricing can vary depending on generator size.

Fuel source availability should also be considered. Propane and diesel are on-premises fuel sources, which may need resupply when power is lost for long periods. In contrast, natural gas is supplied by the local utility.

What may also play a part in the fuel choice are local code requirements. In certain regions, propane is not available inside city limits. Occasionally, the kind of facility will determine whether an on-site fuel source is a requirement.

Part 2 will discuss Installation Team, Generator Location, Outdoor Enclosure, and Voltage Requirement.

Electrical Peace of Mind

Providing professional electricians since 1988 in Maryland, Cook Electric is the company you can rely on for all your electrical service needs, including:

  • Commercial & Residential Electrical Installations
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For knowledgeable, fair, honest, reliable, and conscientious service, call Cook Electric today at (410) 266-9040. We will be very glad to help you.