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Portable and Permanent Power Generators

A generator is a convenient power alternative to electricity when inclement weather knocks out local power lines. Generators can provide heat, light, and electricity for the duration of a power outage so that your life remains uninterrupted until the power is restored. But do you understand all the implications of purchasing, owning, and operating a generator? 

Below, we will overview the basic features, price factors, and maintenance requirements of household generators so that you can choose the right one for your needs and get the longest possible use from it. If you’re merely seeking a generator repair or maintenance service, contact our team at Gubrud’s via the form below.

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What Are Home Generators?

A home generator is a device that provides a backup power source to an electrical system so that it can continue powering your whole home or just certain appliances and lights during an electrical outage. They run on unleaded gas, natural gas or liquid propane and are installed outside of your home. An automatic standby generator automatically turns on within seconds of an outage, so you might not even notice when you lose electricity if you have one of these devices, or a portable generator can be stored in a sage location plugged in to a special transfer panel when needed.

Why Would I Need a Home Generator?

When the power goes out, you have no control over how long it takes to get the electricity back up and running. Without a generator, you have no way to run your refrigerators, charge your cell phone, or even cook food — which are all things you can’t go without doing for longer than a day or so. In situations like these, a generator will provide you with peace of mind knowing that you can care for yourself and your family in times of emergency.

How Much Does a Home Generator
Installation Cost?

According to Consumer Reports, the price of a portable generator without the necessary transfer panel, ranges from $400 to $1,500 whereas a stationary generator costs anywhere between $3,500 to $9,000 on average, which doesn’t even include the standby generator installation cost.

How Much Does It Typically Cost to Install a Home Generator?

A manual transfer panel or automatic generator installation alone can cost from $1,500 to $9,000, plus the cost of the equipment, which an electrical contractor may charge per project  based on the costs of any services required, including:

    • A fuel tank or connection to utility lines
    • Site preparation and concrete installation
    • Generator transfer switch installation
    • New wiring or electrical panel upgrades
    • Permits
    • Energy needs
    • Materials and equipment

Other price factors that may come into play are the size of the system and local building codes. Some generator dealers, such as Generac, offer free in-home assessments. Gubrud’s is a certified Generac contractor, so feel free to call us for a quote on the installation to avoid any unpleasant financial surprises down the road.

Portable vs. Permanent Generators?

When you decide it’s time to buy a generator for your property, you need to determine whether to invest in a portable or a permanent generator. While they serve the same function, they differ greatly in terms of convenience and cost.

Portable generators are exactly what they sound like. They aren’t installed in any particular place, and they can be wheeled in and out of storage space. This means that they need to be manually connected to your circuit breaker during an outage, which could be a major inconvenience and a hazard during a storm or rolling blackout. Another downside is that they’re quite noisy when they run and don’t yield as much power as permanent generators.

Permanent generators, formally known as stationary or standby generators, are installed on your property much the same way as air conditioning units are. Most stationary generators have been built with insulated weatherproof housing to protect them from the elements and ensure quieter operation. Many generator users prefer this option because they automatically take over when the electricity goes out, and they can power the whole home with ease. 

Regardless of all the perks of standby generators, most people purchase portable generators solely on the basis of cost.

What Does a Generator Installation Project Look Like?

Generator installation is an involved process that requires site preparation and electrical knowledge. First and foremost, an electrician will help you choose the ideal place to install the generator outside of your house. Once the generator has been placed, the electrician will run the gas line and install the transfer switch and finish by connecting it to the electricity. Lastly, they will test the generator to make sure it runs correctly and is ready to be used in an outage.

Why Can’t I Install a Generator Myself?

All types of electrical projects involve a level of risk. Generators need to be hooked up to gas and electrical wiring, and it’s simply not worth the risk of accident or injury to save some money. Even though you might save some money short-term, a shoddy installation could cause a premature breakdown and put you out hundreds to thousands in repairs or a replacement. A professional installation is a worthy investment to make sure not only that you’re protected but also to ensure that your generator functions optimally for years to come.

How Do I Use a Generator
Once It’s Installed?

Stationary generators flip on automatically when you lose power, but portable generators must be turned on manually during an outage. Thankfully, they’re not difficult to operate. Before doing anything, you should always read the manufacturer’s instructions that came with the generator. Then, place your generator in a dry spot at least 20 feet away from your home’s doors and windows (to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning) and three feet away from anything else. Check the oil and fuel levels to make sure there’s enough of both before firing up the device and make sure the air filter is clean. 

Next, turn off the circuit breaker and turn on the fuel valve once you’re ready to run the generator. Then you can start it up and give it some time to warm up before switching on the breaker. This length of time is usually specified in the instruction manual. Finally, you can turn on the breaker and connect it to your appliances. Remember to turn it off when you don’t need it anymore so as to avoid wasting fuel.

How Do I Properly Maintain My Home Generator?

Generators can last for decades, but like your car, they need proper maintenance for this to happen. Here are our top maintenance tips to help you get the longest life from your generator:

  • Keep a cover over your generator to protect it from getting damaged by the elements
  • Run the generator once every three months for about half an hour to charge the starter battery (portable models only, automatic standby units regularly run a preset test on themselves)
  • Keep the gas tank full so you don’t have to run out for it in the event of an emergency (portable models only, automatic standby units run on your homes natural gas or propane system)
  • Check oil and filters regularly and have some backups on hand for when they need to be changed during a blackout
  • Get the correct generator size to power your needs. Generators rated for a lower power output trying to power too much can lower the life expectancy for that unit.

Generator Installation Companies Near Me

Whether you need a generator installation, repair, or upgrade in Sacramento or surrounding areas, Gubrud’s has you covered. We proudly serve nearly a 30 mile radius around the greater Sacramento California area. Our team specializes in all things electrical, and we’ve been servicing portable and stationary generators since 1995.

Send us your service requests or inquiries through our online form and we’ll get in touch with you promptly.