What is an automatic standby generator?

An automatic standby generator is a backup electrical system that operates whether you are home or away. Within seconds of an outage, it automatically supplies power directly to your home’s electrical circuit breaker box. After utility power returns, the generator shuts itself off and waits for the next outage. It operates on natural gas or liquid propane gas and sits outside just like a central air conditioning unit. These are air-cooled units. Larger Generator Sets - both stationary and mobile will be liquid-cooled and can also operate on Diesel fuel.

Why should I buy an automatic standby generator instead of a portable generator?

During a utility power outage, an automatic standby generator provides numerous advantages over a portable generator:

  • The American Red Cross recommends permanently installed standby generators as a safer way to provide backup power to a home than a portable generator.
  • With an automatic standby generator properly installed outside, your home is protected from deadly carbon monoxide poisoning that is a much greater risk with portable generators.
  • Running on the home’s natural gas or LP fuel supply, it is less expensive to run than gasoline and does not need to be refilled.
  • They start automatically within seconds of a power outage, and eliminate the need to haul a portable generator outside or run extension cords throughout your home.
  • They provide protection 24/7, whether you’re home or away, and they turn themselves off when utility power returns, so there is no need to monitor the unit during an outage.

What does it typically cost to install a residential back-up generator system ("GenSet") at my home or farm? And what does a standard package and installation involve?

Simple installations of small systems (8-14 kW Generator Sets) average $5,000 to $6,500.  Assuming the GenSet is installed within 10 feet of the gas meter and within 20 feet of the electric meter. But the costs can be much more if there are other electrical code and safety requirement to complete the job right and/or if distances to connect with natural gas and electric meters become longer. More labor, parts and materials. Often this size is fully adequate for the electrical loads of smaller homes and businesses. And with incremental load management equipment they can successfully serve the critical needs of even larger buildings.

Simple installations of larger whole house / small business systems in the 17-22 kW range will average $7,000 to $8,500. Per the situation described above. These systems are sized to run all electrical requirements under reasonable conditions. Simple installations of liquid cooled GenSets above 22 kW vary widely.

The Generator Set Standard equipment would be: Generator w/ Battery, Cold Weather Kit and Pad; Automatic Transfer Switch; Installation of Electrical wiring and conduit; Mechanical installation of natural gas or liquid propane fuel lines and miscellaneous parts. Our installation cost also includes code permits. Once fully installed the system is started, programmed, warranty commissioned and we will even train our customer if they request..  Generally, $5,000 – $6,000 for smaller generators in the range of 8kW to 14 kW.

Do Generator Sets ever need to be tested? If so, Why?
Yes, we refer to it as weekly exercising for 10-20 minutes. We will program your system to perform this according to the schedule you desire. Whether it be Wednesdays at noon or Fridays at 10 a.m. or whenever. When the generator runs it is under a fraction of its designed load and does not in any way disrupt the utility power to the home. These weekly episodes provide so many benefits in the function of the engines and generator equipment. Plus the battery is stimulated and charged (note the battery is always receiving a trickle charge too.)  The controller will run all of the diagnostic tests during the exercise.  If in fact there are any problems, you will never be more than a week without notice. Call us and we will be out to make things right!

Do Generators need to be maintained?

Yes, simple maintenance is required-at least annually. And with more regular duty the generator set may require semi-annual service to insure its value and performance. As for commercial and industrial applications - even quarterly service and loadbank testing should be considered. MCP performs outstanding maintenance contracts on all of our brands as well as others.  All generators require periodic inspection, oil and filter changes and other work to ensure maximum performance for years of reliable service. Plus filters and cleaning of potential mouse, spider and other insect debris will keep the unit in good shape. Preventative maintenance kits are available and MCP offers annual maintenance contracts for a worry-free ownership experience. Refer to the owner’s manual for routine maintenance procedures and schedules.

What happens if the generator gets overloaded?

Home standby generators are equipped with overload protection. In the rare event of an overload, the generator’s circuit breaker will trip, disconnecting the unit from the load. Simply correct the overload and reset the breaker in the generator.

How quiet are these generators?

New systems have all become much less noisy than ever before. The very quietest are CUMMINS and KOHLER systems. Please visit their websites for more information.

Can I use my own electrical and mechanical contractors to do the installation?
Yes, absolutely.