generator, electrical services
Written by Larry Cook

Selecting Your Home’s Standby Generator

There are regions of the country that regularly experience power outages caused by natural events such as floods, blizzards, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Increasingly, homeowners are considering installing standby generators. Power outages are often hazardous and costly to affected residents. Standby generators, also known as permanent generators, help prevent such problems. Installed by licensed electricians, they provide electrical power to a house automatically during these outages.


Installed outside, a standby generator interfaces with a home’s electrical system via the transfer switch. During power outages, the transfer switch disconnects the home from the grid and turns on the generator, which is usually powered by natural gas or propane already existing from the home supply. Within seconds, home electrical systems begin running again. After utility power is restored, the standby generator turns off, and the home reconnects to the grid. The transfer switch is critical because it prevents electricity generated by the generator from back feeding to utility lines and harming anyone working on them.

Correct Size

The number of watts it can produce determines the rating of a generator. Small portables can produce about 1,000 watts. In contrast, standby generators are rated from 6,000 watts to 22,000+ watts. Since 1,000 watts equals one kilowatt (kW), manufacturers will call a 20,000-watt generator a 20kW unit. Their websites often provide calculators to help consumers determine the proper generator size needed by their homes. A licensed electrician can also provide assistance in this task.

Professional Installation

Installation will be significant in cost and effort. A 20-22kW standby generator will cost $8,000 to $12,000. A building permit will be required before it can be installed on an approved gravel surface or concrete 5 feet away from any house opening. A transfer switch installation will be needed, and setbacks from the property line must be followed. A direct hookup to a natural gas line will add expense, but it ensures a dependable power source. Cables buried underground will run from the generator to the home’s electrical panel.

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
  • Marina & Residential Pier Wiring
  • Electrical Service & Repair
  • Specialty Electrical Services

For knowledgeable, fair, honest, reliable, and conscientious service, call Cook Electric today at 410-266-9040. They will be very glad to help you.