Automatic Standby Generator FAQs
What is an automatic standby generator?
An automatic standby generator is a back up 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.
Can an automatic standby generator replace utility service?
No...the generator fuel costs would be much more expensive than buying power from the utility company since their cost to produce electricity is divided among thousands of customers.
Can I install the generator myself?
As an option, Generac offers the Guardian Series systems prepackaged and pre-wired with comprehensive installation instructions. You could perform the simpler site preparation steps and have a professional make the electrical panel and fuel connections, or you could complete the entire installation yourself. However, for safety reasons and to ensure adherence to all local, state and national electrical codes, particularly for non pre-wired or larger systems, Generac recommends you use an authorized Generac dealer such as Green Sun Energy Services.
What are the clearance specs for the air cooled generator?
Generac Guardian Series generators can actually be installed as close as 18" from the home, but only if your local building codes allow it. The exhaust side (left side) needs to be at least 5 feet away from any air inlet such as a window or vent, and requires at least 3 feet of clearance on the sides and front of the unit. Typically the generator must be at least 3 feet away from the fuel meter, as well, since it is considered a potential point of ignition. However, all installation distances are really dictated by your local building codes. Be sure to consult your local building code authority to ensure that the placement of your generator complies with local codes.
Do standby generators have to be maintained?
Yes, simple maintenance is required. All generators require periodic oil and filter changes to ensure maximum performance for years of reliable service. Preventative maintenance kits are available and Green Sun Energy Services offers annual maintenance contracts for a worry-free ownership experience. Refer to the owner’s manual for routine maintenance procedures and schedules.
Is there a required break-in period for Generac Guardian series generators?
According to Generac, their automatic standby generators do not need a break-in period with specific loads. The only “break-in” period or task requirement the unit has is for the first 8 hours of operation you will want to run an SAE 5 W 30 (non-synthetic) oil and do a full oil change once those 8 hours are complete for 2013 and older units. We chance the oil for 2014 and newer generators after 25 hours of use. This is also an excellent time to adjust the valves.
Q: What is the recommended oil to use?
Always check the manual for each specific model as oil recommendations change depending on the model. Our oil recommendations are based on climate or temperature. For areas with seasons, synthetic 5W-30 can be used year-around, but is not recommended in very cold temperatures.
Q: What happens if the generator gets overloaded?
Generac 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.
Q: How do I open an air-cooled home standby generator?
Air-cooled home standby generators manufactured in 2008 or later require a key to unlock its two locks before opening the lid. The unit is locked when it is shipped. You will need to apply heavy pressure on the lid above each lock while turning the key at the same time.
Q: The keys don't open the locks on my unit
Be sure to apply firm pressure to the lid of the generator when turning the key. If you need additional assistance, please contact 888-GENERAC.
Q: How long can I continuously operate my home standby generator?
During an outage, we recommend the generator be shut down every 24 hours to inspect the air filter and oil level. Let the engine cool for approximately 15 minutes to get an accurate reading on the dipstick. A complete oil change will need to be performed after every 200 hours of operation for air-cooled units, or every 100 hours of operation for liquid-cooled units.
Q: Are extended warranties available for my home standby generator?
Extended warranties are available for our home standby and commercial generators, (this does not include the CorePower Series,EcoGen, portables or power washers.) It must be purchased from Green Sun Energy Services within the first year of ownership.
Q: What constitutes a voided warranty?
The following installations will void the warranty on an automatic standby generator: Generators used where no utility power is present(e.g.,hunting cabins); Generators used to change backup battery systems for alternative energy sources (this does not include the EcoGen series); Improper installations (clearance requirements, wiring.etc); Modifications to the original design (extending the exhaust,etc.); Indoor installations.
How do I set the exercise time?
For all units, 6 kW and 8-20 kW, the exercise time can be set from the control board on the "edit" screen. Simply select the date and time using the up and down arrow keys. The generator time and exercise time are in military time, so if you would like the generator to excerise at 1 PM set the exercise for 1300 hours. The CorePower TM Series/analog control boards can be set by pressing and holding the "set exercise" button for 10 seconds or until the generator starts. The unit will exercise weekly on that day and time each week. To reset the exercise, disconnect the battery and press / hold the button again at the desired day/time.
Q: How can I ensure that the weekly test took place?
The generator has external indicator lights that show generator status. If the light is green, then the generator has performed its weekly exercise and is ready to operate in an emergency.
Q: How does extreme cold weather affect a Generac Generator?
If you live in Northern climates where the temperature dips below 10 degrees, Generac strongly recommend adding a cold weather kit to ensure your standby generator starts. The cold weather kit include thermostatically controlled battery warmers. The battery sits on top of the warmer, which automatically turns on when the temperature drops below 40 degrees. The kit also includes a crank case heater that automatically prevents the oil from turning into Jello. The generators are filled with ordinary 10W-30 oil at the factory. The manufacturers recommend changing the oil to 5W-30 Synthetic Oil when adding a heater.
Q: How often should you run a loss of power simulation if your utility company doesn't have a power failure over a long time period?
The generator will run its weekly 10-12 minute engine test, but this only tests the engine... the electrical generating capacity and the automatic transfer switch will not be tested (your utility connections will not be broken so all of the electric and appliances inside of the house will not be affected).
If you don't experience a utility power outage for a long period of time, you can run a loss of power "simulation" by tripping the 200 amp breaker at the top of the Generac Transfer Switch to test both the electrical portion of the generator and the Automatic Transfer Switch mechanism. I would run this test for at least 15 minutes (to properly exercise the generator). To complete the test, close the 200 amp breaker in the transfer switch to simulate the return of utility power. The generator will run for a few minutes after utility power has been returned and then the generator will turn off.
Q: Do generators protect against electrical surges?
Generac generators do not have surge protection, and will not protect your home from electrical surges. As a matter of fact, the generator transfer switch is also vulnerable to power surges. We recommend installing a UL listed Generator Transfer Surge Protector, that not only protects the generator transfer switch but the entire house. The Surge Protection device that we install actually protects against a 600,000 volt surge and comes with a $25,000 life time warranty for down line coverage.
Q: I no longer have my Owner’s Manual, how can I get another copy?
Owner’s manuals and other technical / repair information can be downloaded from our Generac's Manual Search or call 1-888-GENERAC.
Q: What does a shining yellow LED light mean?
The yellow LED is a maintenance reminder light. To reset a maintenance reminder, press the Enter key on the control panel. Service reminders will be displayed at the following intervals:
- Inspect Battery: 6 months and 12 months
- Change Oil and Filter: 200 hours or 2 years, 100 hours or 2 years on 20kW models
- Change Air Filter: 200 Hours Or 2 years
- Inspect Spark Plugs: 220 Hours or 2 years
- Change spark Plugs: 400 hours or 10 years
Q: Should I remove snow from the top of my generator? Should I remove snow from around my generator?
During times where snowfall is expected, you will want to ensure that snow and/or ice is cleared off of, and away from, the enclosure. There should be no snow piles or large accumulations of snow within three feet of the unit to ensure proper air flow if the unit were needed in an outage. If necessary, due to local codes or in areas with high precipitation, the unit may be installed on a structural steel base to elevate the unit. The base for the unit must be level, and meet all spatial recommendations in the manual, as well as comply with local and national codes.
Q: How long can this generator run at a single time?
Generac standby generators are specifically designed for extended run times, so having it run for a week or longer is definitely possible. Your only limitation is the fuel type, meaning the size of your propane tank or the supply of natural gas. We also recommend stopping the unit and checking the oil after 24 hours of straight operation and performing scheduled maintenance after 200 hours of operation. See your owners manual for instructions on how to check your oil.
Q: How do I turn off at night and back on in morning to preserve fuel?
- Turn the generator breaker off.
- Switch the main electrical panel breaker to off.
- Switch the three position switch to off.
- Remove the fuse on the control panel.
To put the generator back into service, simply follow the process in reverse.
Q: Why do you have to wait for five minutes before restarting an air conditioner?
First of all the basics of an air conditioner - one side releases heat separated with insulation to the area that cools.
When an air conditioner runs, the compressor builds refrigerant pressure. When the compressor is shut off, either; manually or by power interruptions or by satisfying thermostat demand, it must stay off for usually 3 minutes, to allow the pressure in the system to equalize before it can be safely restarted. This temperature equalization is needed, in that one side is hot (higher pressure) and the other side is cold (lower pressure). Therefore, five Minutes is a good safety time before restarting an air conditioner (the actual is about 3 Min's wait, depending upon size).
While the compressor is running the flow of gas (refrigerant) prevents a 'jolt or shock', however upon power loss both sides heat and cool more respectively, due to the lack of refrigerant gas flow. Thus a less than 2 min restart can cause damage. Trying to restart the air conditioner compressor before pressure equalizes is known as short cycling.
If an air conditioner is short cycled the results can vary from 1) tripped air conditioner circuit breaker; 2) generator shut down on overload; 3) tripped air conditioner thermal overload (The air conditioner thermal overload will reset itself after the compressor cools. It can only be reset manually if there's a button and the hot/cold difference is resolved, or worst case 4) 'burn out' rendering the compressor broken.
Q: What is the life expectancy of the 20kW Air cooled model? How many hours operation or years od service?
According to Generac; with proper maintenance, an air cooled generator could last up to 3000 hours of use.
Q: Who is Generac?
Since 1959, Generac has been designing and manufacturing backup power generators for residential, commercial and industrial applications. They have grown to be the world’s largest provider of residential standby generators, selling five times as many generators as all of our competitors combined. Generac’s broad product line ranges in output from 800 watts to 9 megawatts, and are available through the industry’s largest network of independent generator dealers, retailers and wholesalers.
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Choosing the best Generac Authorized Sales & Service Dealer for your needs can be one of the most challenging parts of your generator buying process. While the standby generators themselves can be classified by product specification, and different financing options have costs and benefits that can be compared, verified generator installation company reviews with standard metrics to evaluate Generac Authorized Sales & Service Dealers can be difficult to find. Read More.