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General FAQ

Q: What is an automatic standby generator?

A: An automatic standby generator is a back up electrical system that operates whether you are at home or away. It automatically supplies power to essential circuits of your home within seconds of a utility outage. After utility power returns, the generator shuts itself off and awaits the next outage. It operates on natural gas or liquid propane and sits outside just like a central air conditioning unit.

Q: What will it power?

A: Generators supply electricity to the electrical panel circuits of your home through a built-in load center. You select the number of circuits you want to protect and match it to the appropriate generator system. Everything on that circuit will be protected. A generator also powers furnaces, air conditioners, well pumps, water heaters and other appliances that are hard wired into your electrical panel.

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

A: While portable generators do supply power, an automatic standby generator produces a higher quality of electricity. It operates automatically and runs a weekly self-test to ensure proper response to your needs. There are no extension cords to plug in and no gas tanks to fill. It operates automatically so it protects your home even when you're away. When utility power returns, the standby generator shuts itself off.

Q: Why circuits and not watts?

A: Establishing wattage requirements of the appliances you want to power during an outage is difficult because those appliances can be plugged into various outlets in your home. That's why we have simplified the process. By allowing you to protect everything on chosen circuits, you no longer have to worry about individual items.

Q: What's the difference between air-cooled and liquid-cooled?

A: Air-cooled units use engines we design and manufacture specifically for our smaller generators. Volume production helps us to keep cost down, making our air-cooled generators the most affordable for our customers. They cover essential circuits and back-up power needs in most residential applications. Liquid-cooled units use automotive engines for increased horsepower. This makes them ideal for larger requirements such as whole-house power coverage, larger homes and commercial applications.

Q: Do they have to be maintained?

A: Just like your car's engine, generators need periodic tune-ups, oil and filter changes. Many customers rely on preventative maintenance kits to satisfy routine maintenance requirements. Refer to your owner's manual for routine maintenance procedures and schedules. Kits can be purchased here at A.P. Electric & Generators.

Q: What is the advantage of an aluminum enclosure?

A: Aluminum is corrosion resistant, so it prolongs the life and look of the generator, particularly in salt air communities.

Q: What is Whisper-Test? (GUARDIAN QuietSouce models only)

A: Whisper-Test is a feature that reduces noise by up to 50% during the generator's weekly self-test cycle. That makes it as quiet as a car idling in your driveway. The generator starts up and operates at a reduced speed, lowering sound output by as much as 12 decibels for units that normally run at higher speeds under load. This allows for near-silent operation in test mode and satisfies all known sound ordinances.

Q: How do I select a generator that's right for me?

A: The most accurate way is to have an electrician apply an amp meter to the circuits or appliances that will operate with emergency backup power. Measurements should be taken as the appliance starts up. That's because start up requires the greatest amount of power.

To eliminate the hassle of this process, Generac allows you to simply match your system to the existing circuits in your electrical panel. With our 8, 10, 12 or 16 circuit, pre-wired systems, we take the guesswork out of sizing. For customers concerned with air conditioning, make sure the transfer switch has an appropriate 240V circuit breaker and that the generator's maximum surge Amps exceed the required starting Amps (LRA) shown on the A/C data plate.

For liquid-cooled generator models, a licensed electrician must perform a site survey to determine the size and voltage of the unit to meet your backup power needs.

Q: How long does it take to install an automatic standby generator?

A: Generac air-cooled generator models, which come equipped with a comprehensive installation manual, can take as little as four hours to install. They come mounted on a composite pad to further simplify installation. Liquid-cooled generators normally require up to 14 hours to install. Because of their additional weight, liquid-cooled units must be installed on a stronger mounting surface such as a concrete slab.

Note: Time estimates are based on typical applications. Additional time may be required to run gas conduit or gas piping or to place the unit far from the incoming gas or electrical service.

Q: Who should install the generator?

A: For safety reasons and to be sure of adherence to local, state and national codes Generac recommends the generator be installed by an Authorized Dealer or licensed contractor. However, the air-cooled systems are prepackaged, pre-wired and come with comprehensive installation instructions to enable a competent Do It Yourself-er to participate in the installation process.

Q: If I choose to install the air-cooled generator system what do I need to buy?

• Starting battery - Automotive type Group 26 negative ground. Refer to the Owner's Manual for additional details

• Double pole circuit breaker (Refer to the Owner's Manual for the required breaker size.)

• Grounding rod with grounding strap

• Padlock (To lock external connection box)

• Crushed stone or pea gravel (approximately 10-12 cubic feet)

• Black poly-film or other vegetation blocking fabric (5-1/2' x 5')

• Silicone caulk

• Pipe sealant (suitable for gaseous fuel connections)

• Fasteners (to mount external connection box and automatic transfer switch with built-in emergency load center)

Q: What tools should I have available for installation?

A: Drill, drill bits, hole saw (type and length will be determined by the materials you will be drilling and cutting), open-end wrenches or adjustable wrenches, socket wrenches or nut drivers, standard and Phillips screwdrivers, level, sledgehammer, channel-lock pliers, spade shovel, pencil and safety goggles.

Q: How much fuel does an automatic standby generator use?

  7-20 kW Air-Cooled 18-45 kW Liquid-Cooled 60-150 kW Liquid-Cooled
Natural Gas (cu ft/hr) 100-265 275-725 960-2061
LP (cu ft/hr) 54-104 110-273 375-830

Please refer to the individual model's specification sheet for exact figures.

Note: Figures are based on continuous operation at full load. It is unlikely that the generator will run at full load for an extended period, therefore, consumption decreases accordingly.

Q: The generator that I've chosen has a 100-amp automatic transfer switch. What if I have 200-amp service?

A:Emergency circuits should always be isolated by the emergency load center. An isolated sub-panel helps to prevent overload situations.

Q: Where can I purchase parts?

A: Parts can be purchased through A.P. Electric online or by calling (847) 516-8882. Part numbers are located in the owner's manual.

Q: What is the cost of a service/maintenance contract?

A: Costs are determined by the installing dealer and are based upon service levels. Cost will also vary based on hourly labor rates in your local area.

Q: What type of oil is recommended?

A: 15W-40 to 5W-40 Synthetic is recommended for all liquid-cooled units. The oil should be a SAE rated high detergent oil that meets API Service Class SF requirements for gasoline engines.

Propane tanks are usually rated by pounds. Is there a conversion that can be applied to the fuel consumption numbers?
Yes. For general conversion, propane weighs 4.24 pounds per gallon. 1 lb. = 8.58 cu. ft. 1 gallon = 36.39 cu. ft.

Q: Where do I go to have warranty repairs performed?

A: Any Authorized GUARDIAN Service Center can perform warranty service. To locate a dealer near you, please refer to our Dealer Locator section of the Web site or call our Automated Dealer Locator at 1-800-333-1322. The automated dealer locator is available 24/7/365. Our Authorized Service Centers provide parts, service and information on Generac generator equipment, regardless of where it was purchased.

Q: Where is my generator made? 

A: Generac generators and Kohler generators are made in the United States. Both manufactured in Wisconsin.

Q: What are the standard Generator Clearances?

A: When you install your air cooled or liquid cooled generator you must be mindful of the required clearances. Depending on the size and style of your unit you will find a different clearance.

Most home standby generators are air cooled units. These units typically have steel or aluminum enclosures. These units require at least and 18” clearance from non-combustibles. Non-combustibles consist of anything that is not flammable. This would be your garden hose, a concrete stoop or a wooden patio for example. When you are dealing with combustible items, such as a storage facility for a lawnmower that contain gas, you must maintain a 36” clearance. The last required clearance is from windows and doors. You must maintain a 5’ clearance from your windows and doors. Mostly because of the decibel rating of the generator. It is also a fire hazard to have it any closer to a window or door.

Local codes require “generator on premise” stickers for your main breaker panel and utility meter. These stickers warn an emergency responder to be careful of the large units that contain gas. In the event of an emergency, they would disconnect the fuel for the unit to prevent serious damage.
Composite plastic enclosures are usually found on the smaller 7kW air cooled units. Most recently manufacturers have started to phase this type of enclosure out. Generac, for example, replaced the enclosure on the CorePower 5837 with steel. They redesigned the model completely. The new PowerPact models all have steel enclosures. The clearances for composite plastic enclosures are 36” from non-combustibles and 5’ from windows, doors and combustibles.

Liquid cooled generators are a much more complex unit. They are larger externally and contain larger internal pieces that work faster and harder than the smaller air cooled models. This affects the required clearances. For steel and aluminum enclosures the required clearance is 5’ regardless of combustibility. And, as with the air cooled models, there is a required 5’ clearance from windows and doors.

Q: What should I do if I need more than the 30ft of cable that comes with my generator?

A: Once you need more than the 30ft of cabling that comes with your generator, code says you have to remove the 30ft whip and replace with 2-conduits. One for the low voltage and one for the line voltage. (Once the plug and play plugs are not able to be used, and/or wire needs to be spliced/extended, this code takes effect).

Q: Which brands are brushed and which are brush-less?

A: Brushed brands include Generac Portables, Generac Air-cooled, all PowerMate, and Kohler Air-cooled. Brush-less brands include Winco Portables (except models WC6000H and WC6000HE) and all other Winco generators are brush-less. Brands that have both brushed and brushless models include Generac Liquid-cooled and Kohler Liquid-cooled.

Q: What is the recommended wire size for my wire length?

A: The recommended wire sizes for a 460 feet (140m) length wire is No. 18 AWG. For wire in length of 461 to 730 feet (223m) you should use No. 16 AWG. For wire in length of 731 to 1,160 feet (354m) you should use No. 14 AWG. For wire in length of 1,161 to 1,850 feet (565m) you should use No. 12 AWG.

Q: How do I convert Watts to HP (horsepower)?

A: 746 Watts = 1 HP

Q: Does a Pre-Wired Transfer Switch always have power?

A: Yes, except in the initial 20 seconds of a power outage.

Q: How is my transfer switch fed?

A: It is fed from the main panel just like a sub panel.

Q: What happens in the initial 20 seconds of a power outage with my transfer switch?

A: The genset starts after 10 seconds and then 10 seconds later after the engine starts, the transfer switch transfers to generator power.

Q: What happens after the power outage with my transfer switch?

A: The utility power will come back on and after 10 seconds the transfer switch will transfer back to utility power. (Only if the voltage is steadily above 85% for 10 seconds) 2 minutes after the transfer switch transfers back to utility, the genset will shut down and wait for another outage. (Note: when this occurs a flicker of the lights will happen but will not affect any of your appliances or devices.)

Q: Why should I keep an Emergency Checklist?

A: When an emergency strikes there is not much time to think. An emergency checklist including emergency phone numbers are documents that should be kept available where every family member easily can find them. You are less likely to panic when you are prepared.

Q: Where should I store my Emergency Checklist and the items on the list.

A: Keep your Emergency Checklist in an easily accessible place. Gather as many of the items you can on the Emergency Checklist and store in a central location. Be sure to periodically review the status of items on your checklist and update emergency information.

Q: What should I know about Natural Gas?

A: Natural Gas - If you have a high pressure system, it's always best to install the step down regulator as close to the genset as possible instead of at the gas meter. This will let you size down the gas piping diameter from the gas meter to the regulator/genset.

Q: What should I know about LP Gas (Liquid Propane Gas)?

A: LP Gas - All the generators we sell are Liquid Propane Vapor and all Propane Tanks will require a step down regulator for the generator. (11-14 inches of Water Column for every generator we sell). It is always best to install the step down regulator as close to the genset as possible instead of at the Propane Tank. This will let you size down the gas piping diameter from the Propane Tank to the regulator/genset.

Q: How can I convert Kilowatts to HP (horsepower)?

A: 1 Kilowatt = 1.5 HP (Rule of thumb is to divide cc’s by 30 = HP)

Q: What is the difference between an Inverter and a Portable Generator?

A: There are two major differences. One, portable generators create D/C voltage via the voltage regulator and engine. D/C is delivered to the rotor/stator via use of brushes and the rotor/stator converts the D/C to A/C. Second, inverter generators change from D/C to A/C using an electronic microprocessor. No brushes nor rotor/stator is used, which helps produce a cleaner A/C output.

Q: What is A.P. Electric & Generators Warranty Policy?

A: All merchandise sold by A.P. Electric & Generators is warranted by the manufacturer NOT A.P. Electric & Generators. If your merchandise does not work or stops working, this will be warranted by the manufacturer NOT A.P. Electric & Generators. If your merchandise was received damaged, refer to "Do not accept damaged goods above".

Q: What is A.P. Electric & Generators Customer Purchase Agreement?

A: A.P. Electric & Generators reserves the right to refuse the sale of ANY product for ANY reason to anyone at anytime.

Q: Can A.P. Electric & Generators guarantee compatibility or suitability?

A: No, we cannot guarantee compatibility or suitability of products sold for your particular situation. Every effort is made by us to recommend those products best suited for your described needs. Sometimes however, this is difficult to accomplish over the phone or Internet, for that reason the customer is responsible to fully research compatibility and suitability prior to purchase.

Q: What are the dB’s (decibels) ratings of generators and their maximum noise levels?

A: A generator cannot exceed the following noise levels in accordance with the (36CFR2.12):
Air Air-Cooled generators at 3600rpm's 60-70db's
Liq. Cooled generators at 3600rpm's 65-75 db's
Liq. Cooled generators at 1800rpm's 55-62 db's
RV generators at 3600rpm's 65-70db's
RV generators at 1800rpm's 55-62 db's
Most portable generators at 3600rpm's 75-83db's
Inverter generators at 46-65db's
They are all measured at 7 yards (21ft).