Generator FAQ’S

FAQ’S

  1. What size generator do I need?

Generators provide homeowners with a way to power everything from their most critical appliances and systems to their entire house. The size of the generator that you’ll need will depend on what you are looking to power in the event that your electricity goes out. Size, when referenced in terms of generators, most commonly refers not to the physical size of the machine, but its electrical capacity. If you’ll want to keep your refrigerator, air conditioning, and one TV running simultaneously, you can determine the electrical capacity you’ll need by adding up the total watts of each load amount.

To receive a detailed estimate from Midwest Electric & Generator, Inc. call 612-284-1550 now!

  1. How much will a generator cost me?

Generators vary in cost depending on a number of factors including whether it’s a standby or portable, the electrical capacity (watts), and the features of the unit. Typically, installed standby generators start as low as $6,500 installed, while portable generators start as low as $2,795 installed. We also offer financing of generators. Maintenance plans can also help provide peace of mind and ensure the longevity of your generator.

It’s important to remember that the value a generator can provide you and your family cannot solely be measured monetarily. Generators provide owners with a sense of security and reliability that your family will be protected in the event of an emergency.

  1. Should I purchase a standby generator or a portable generator?

Both standby generators and portable generators offer different benefits for homeowners to consider when making their purchasing decision. The main difference between standby and portable generators is the manner in which power is transmitted into your home along with the electrical capacity.

Standby generators are permanent structures located outside of your home on a concrete base. They typically run using natural gas or liquid propane, and automatically turn on in a matter of seconds when a power failure is detected, even when you’re not home. Once utility power returns, a standby generator will power off on its own. Standby generators are understandably more expensive than their counterpart since they offer more security and peace of mind.

Portable generators are significantly smaller in size and run on gas. Instead of automatically starting like standby generators, portable generators require you to wheel them outside and connect them using heavy-duty extension cords made specifically for generator usage. These extension cords will either be plugged directly into outlets on the generator itself or into a specially installed outlet adjacent to your breaker box. With a portable generator, you’ll only be able to connect a handful of electronics or appliances.

  1. Can I just plug my portable generator into an outlet?

The simple answer is no. The more detailed answer is no, because it is not only extremely dangerous but also illegal. Plugging your portable generator directly into a standard wall outlet can cause backfeeding into the utility lines that connect to your house, causing serious injury or even death to an unsuspecting utility worker who is working to restore power or downed utility lines. There’s also the risk that by connecting your portable generator to an electrical outlet that you could overload your circuits and cause a fire.

Having a licensed professional install a transfer switch is the best way to prevent a disaster. A transfer switch will disconnect your home from the electrical grid while allowing your generator to power your home. Transfer switches come in manual and automatic options and are recommended for both portable and standby generators. To find out more about transfer switches, call Midwest Electric & Generator Inc.

  1. Can I install a standby generator myself?

Standby generators require installation be performed by an experienced professional. In addition to hooking up the transfer switch, a licensed electrician will make sure that everything is installed properly so that your warranty is protected and remains valid. Regulations differ on a number of different levels, by hiring a professional to install your standby generator, they’ll make sure that you have all the necessary permits and that your generator meets any local and state electrical code requirements.

Call to schedule an appointment with us today!

  1. Steel or aluminum enclosure?

Overall, aluminum enclosed generators are the best choice if you want your generator to remain in good shape for years to come. In particular though, aluminum enclosures are the only choice for those buyers who live in coastal regions or those plagued with high humidity since it is naturally resistant to rust and corrosion.

  1. Can I run my portable generator from inside my house?

NO! Since portable generators run on gas and use oil, they emit exhaust which contains carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless poison that can kill an entire household within minutes. Even if it is raining or snowing, you cannot operate a generator within your garage, carport or screened porch-not even with the door open. Portable generators need to be located at least 15 feet from your home, away from doors and windows. To better ensure the safety of you and your family, make sure that you have carbon monoxide detectors installed within your home.

  1. Any other safety information to remember?

Never start a portable generator with appliances already attached. Instead, turn on the generator and let it run for a couple of minutes before plugging in appliances that have been previously set to off. Plug in one item at a time, allowing the generator to stabilize after each one.

Never add fuel to a generator that is already hot. Wait roughly 20 minutes after you turn the generator off before refueling so that the unit has a chance to cool. Refueling the generator while it’s still on or still hot could start a fire.

When turning your portable generator off, make sure that all of the connected appliances are also powered off. Once the unit has cooled, drain the fuel from the generator to avoid destroying the carburetor.

  1. Do generators need maintenance?

Just like any other mechanical equipment, generators also need to be maintained in order to prevent permanent damage and keep your unit in proper working order. Just like a car engine, generators require periodic filter and oil changes, so check your user’s manual for recommended maintenance intervals and procedures. It’s also a good idea to do a test run of the generator each month to prevent blockage in the carburetor and to avoid any surprises so that the unit is ready for when you need it.

Call 612-284-1550 to find out more about our Preventative Maintenance Agreements  and routine maintenance services!

  1. How long will my generator last?

There’s no guarantee for how long your generator system will last, but with proper maintenance and care, a quality unit used for emergency power can last upwards of 20 years. Generac generators in particular are made with OHVI engines that were created specifically for generator use. These generators can provide owners with more than 30 years of reliable service and are the most trusted name in the industry.

Contact your local Assurance Power Systems franchise with any questions you may have with regards to industrial, commercial or residential generators. We’re always available to answer your call and provide you with unsurpassed generator services!  

  1. Why does my Generator start then stop?

Have you ever had a lawnmower, car, or boat engine start up then shut off? Unfortunately, in the world of mechanical equipment, things can happen that cause engines to shut down. The good news is that most generators are equipped with sensors that cause the generator to shut down before damaging itself or your homes electrical equipment.

Most new Generators are equipped with a shutdown switch that will automatically turn off the generator should the systems sensors detect low oil pressure or insufficient oil supply. This is done to save the Generator from far worse failure until Midwest Electric & Generator personnel can diagnose and repair any issues. A Generator may start and then stop when the coolant level is very low. This process is designed to prevent any further damage to your Generator. Midwest Electric & Generator can determine the cause of any coolant leak and take actions to repair it and have your generator functioning properly again. High head pressure on a compressor will also cause a low voltage condition due to overload and may cause the generator to shut off. You can check this by starting the generator with no load and then slowly add load (appliances, etc.) and see if and when the generator shuts down.

Being out of fuel is pretty self-explanatory, however if your fuel pressure is too high or too low it can cause your Generator to shut down. So while today’s generators are robust and very reliable, they can start then stop for a number of reasons. Fortunately, Midwest Electric & Generator is well versed in making generator repairs and getting your power restored.

  1. Why does my generator not produce electricity?

In some rare instances, your generator might run but not produce electricity. While this is best determined by one of Midwest Electric & Generator’s factory certified technicians to properly diagnose and repair your generator the following is a list of potential issues: bad voltage regulator, faulty alternator, bad brushes, or bad electrical connections.

  1. Why does my generator fail to start?

The most common reasons why a generator would fail to start actually have nothing to do with the generator itself, but rather its battery and fuel source. Low battery voltage, which can happen in as little as 18 months in a generator can prevent the engine from starting when you need it most.  Additionally, your generator can’t start if there is a problem with the fuel source. This can be anything from an empty tank to a faulty fuel regulator.   Be sure to check the level of your propane tank regularly so that it’s full when you need it! Other reasons your generator can fail to start include a common alarm fault, blown fuse, or controller malfunction.