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9 Things to Consider when Buying a Standby Generator

generac generator

Here in the MD/DC/VA area, it’s not uncommon for us to lose power when a summer storm rips through. And while these outages sometimes last only a few hours, storms that have occurred over the past several summers have left people in the dark for several days at a time. At Kolb Electric, we’re big fans of Generac generators—they are among the most reliable systems available, and they’re the only ones we install. That said, there are a few things you should consider if you’re thinking about installing a standby generator:

Calculate Amps Properly

You can’t stretch the amount of power that generators supply, so make sure you receive an NEC (National Electric Code) approved load calculation with each proposal. Kolb Electric will provide this calculation with our estimate.

Confirm Municipality and HOA Authorization

Standby generators must be permitted prior to installation and inspected following installation. Kolb Electric will do the work of acquiring the necessary permits for you, and we want to remind everyone not to have your system installed by a contractor who says they can do it with no permit. HOA requirements and approval processes vary, but key concerns often come down to noise and location.

In the event that your standby generator installation does not require a permit, make sure to ask if it will be installed up to NEC code.

Prioritize your Power Needs

Some people install generators to keep the essential functions of their home running, such as the refrigerator and a few lights. Others install theirs to be able to carry on with life as if nothing had happened. Before you install a standby generator, decide what you’ll want to run and what you can do without. Remember—too much capacity will needlessly inflate the cost of your system, so try to be realistic when deciding.

Understand the Generator Installation Timetable

At Kolb Electric, we’re committed to installing your generator efficiently and effectively. Even so, the generator installation process can get hung up at different phases, such as permitting, and may take up to a few weeks to complete—especially during the busy summer months. Don’t wait until a major storm has been forecast before you install your standby generator! Try to do it during the spring or fall, before you need it (and, more importantly, before everyone else needs it!).

Know what You’re Buying

What type of generator will you be installing? Air cooled or liquid cooled? Is it natural gas or propane? Will you be receiving a gas meter upgrade? At Kolb Electric, we’ll talk you through your options and help make sure your standby generator does everything you need it to.

Know WHOM You’re Buying From

Whenever you have any sort of electrical work done, you’re not just buying the system—you’re also buying the company doing the install. With this in mind, it’s important that you know their qualifications as well as those of the technicians who will be installing your generator. Ask the following questions:

  • How many certified technicians are on staff? Are they trained to install air cooled or liquid cooled generators?
  • How long has the company been in business?
  • Does the company have a Master Electrician on staff? If so, how long has that Master Electrician been with the company? Are all of their other licenses current?

Kolb Electric has been in business since 1925, and all of our staff is licensed and trained to install Generac generators.

Prepare Maintenance and Warranty Agreements

Standby generators require on-going annual maintenance, which Kolb Electric will provide with a service agreement. Make sure you also register your Generac generator with the manufacturer for warranty claims.

Be Wary of Low Bids

The lowest bid may sound appealing, but the deepest discounts won’t offset the costs of correcting an improper installation. When you see a huge price difference from one company to the rest, you can be sure something is being left out: load calculations, size inspections, and gas meter upgradesare just some of the areas where some unscrupulous contractors may cut corners and leave you up the creek when the big one hits.

Remember: Knowledge is Power

Standby generators are designed to protect your biggest investment: your home. Take the time to get accurate answers regarding your system to keep your family safe.

If you’re thinking about installing a Generac generator in your home, call Kolb Electric today!

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