How Long Can a Generator Last? Factors that Influence Runtime

Ah, the ultimate question, “How long can my generator run?”

The truth is: there’s no simple answer to this inquiry. There are a number of factors that will influence how long your generator will continuously run after its fired up as well as its lifetime before ultimately calling it quits. 

Let’s look at the factors affect your geneator’s runtime: 

Portable vs. Standby Generators

The first follow-up question we have for you is: are you wondering how long a portable generator can last, or how long a standby will run— because these are two completely different beasts. 

If you are unclear on the difference between a portable generator and a backup unit, read our other post on how standby generators work. We address how standby/backup generators are permanent features, attached to your home and  ready to fire up the instant your power is lost, while portable generators must be manually pulled out and fired up during an outage. 

Standby units are generally larger than portable units, with drastically varying wattages and fuel feeding methods. Backup generators are at a huge advantage, as they are designed to power your home for days on end, while portable generators are engineered to get you by for a few hours and not a realistic solution for long-term electricity. Check out our Backup Generator Guide’s “When to Choose a Standby vs. Portable Generator” section to understand why.

Liquid Propane vs. Natural Gas

The next follow-up question we have is: are you asking about a liquid propane (LP) or natural gas-powered (NG) generator? 

If you’re talking about a standby NG-powered generator, you’ll be tapped into an underground fuel line with unlimited access to your natural gas. Since these underground lines are controlled by the township, you don’t have to worry about filling up a tank like you would with a LP-powered unit and these generators can typically run up to 200 hours continuously without problem. (Keep in mind, if your natural gas line is damaged during a natural disaster, your access to fuel may be limited or restricted). 

With a liquid propane unit, you’re at the mercy of your fuel tank size and the availability the propane company’s delivery availability. Meaning, while your generator might be willing and able to run continuously for a few days, if it sucks up all its juice, it’ll have no fuel to power itself until you refill the tank. Typically, a 1-2 gallon fuel tank can last from 8 to 10 hours (though wattage influences this as well), so if you want a few days worth of backup power, you’ll need a lot larger of a tank.

Keep in mind too that filled propane tanks only hold 80% of their rated capacities, so a 500-gallon tank stores only 400 gallons of fuel. Read all about the pros and cons of propane vs. gas generators here.

Wattage Requirements

This point seems pretty straight-foward: larger generators require more fuel than smaller generators. If you purchase an 11 kilowatt (kW) generator and use it to full capacity, it’s going to use less fuel than a 20 kW unit running at full capacity. 

Powering higher-wattage household items and a higher quantity of items also requires more fuel. For instance, your electric water heater might need 4,000 watts, while your WiFi and cable modem only 40; the water heater is going to eat up more fuel. And the more items want to run, the higher your wattage needs grow. 

In our other article, “What Size Generator Do You Need? Whole House Generator Sizing Made Easy,” we outline examples of household appliances by wattage to help you to determine your home’s wattage requirements. 

Generally speaking, your generator operator’s manual should tell you how much fuel your unit will drain per hour when operating at full capacity. Use this data to help calculate how quickly you’ll deplete your supply.

Durability & Warranty

Then there’s the other side of the big question: when you say how long will a generator run, do you mean over its lifetime?

While some generator manufacturers offer lifetime warranties on certain parts of or your entire generator, this generosity isn’t common. Most reliable and reputable brands offer anywhere from 5-10 year warranties or promise to provide 3,000 to 5,000 hours of power

With proper care, your machine can last for many years no matter your level of use.


Even generators with great warranties can fail to start with lack of routine maintenance. Your generator may fail to run if you don’t fire it up every few months; this keeps the electric starter’s battery fresh and charged. 

We also recommend checking for rust, oil changes every 50 hours, filter replacement and other handy generator maintenance tips found in our other post. While paying for a yearly check-up on your generator will cost you, it could cost you more down the road to neglect your investment. 

Get the Long-Lasting Power You Need

Now that you understand a few of the factors that influence generators’ continuous runtime and overall warranty, it’s time to start hunting for the right unit.

Here at SWFL Electric, we’re proud to be Kohler, Generac and Cummins dealers. Ask us to help you pick the best generator for your wattage. We’ll set you up with a lasting power unit to rely on for many years to come. 

Explore our generators here.


Best Home Standby/Backup Generator Guide

If you’re in the market for a generator, you’ve come to the right place. You probably have a full list of questions, including, “What size generator do I need? Which fuel type is better: natural gas vs. liquid propane? What brand should I trust?”

We’ve designed this generator choosing guide to answer all of those questions and more, so that you can find the best standby generator for your home. 

Whether it’s for partial or full house coverage, we’ve got the insights you need to avoid generator shopping in the dark (pun intended!).

Here’s everything you need to know to start narrowing down your backup home generator choices:

What Exactly is a Standby Generator?

A standby generator is a power source that’s permanently installed right outside your home, in case you lose power. It often resembles an air conditioning unit, and runs on your home’s existing propane or natural gas lines. 

Standbys generally operate on two types of switches: an automatic or a manual switch. Just like it sounds, an automatic transfer switch (ATS) works on its own, without you having to manually turn it on.

This unit monitors your electricity, patiently waiting for an interruption in your input, and kicks on in the event of an outage. Within seconds of your lights going out, your standby generator works to supply your house with backup power. (Because of this, home generators are often referred to as backup generators too).

Manual switches simply need be flipped on, and your power returns!


How Do Standby Generators Operate?

Let’s learn about the mechanics of a home backup generator system. 

A standby generator is installed right outside of your house, protected by weather-resistant casing, oftentimes with commercial-grade and corrosive resistant metals like aluminum or steel, or plastic. The unit is connected to your home’s wiring, and attached to a transfer switch.

This transfer switch can be automatic or manual, meaning it either 1.) monitors your electricity and turns itself on when a disconnection in power is detected, or 2.) you can flip it on manually when your lights go out.

Activating the switch will transfer your electrical circuits to the backup power system provided by the standby generator. The nice thing about relying on power from a standby unit is that it can run until your utility power returns, whether it takes a few hours or a few days to fix the issue (so long as you have an adequate fuel supply!). And with an automatic unit, you do not need to be present for it to fire up like you would a portable generator.

In fact, you may be wondering if a portable generator offers enough juice to power your home. In many cases it can, but there’s a number of advantages to opting for standby unit instead. Let’s see what makes these two types of generators so different.

When to Choose a Standby vs. Portable Generator

If you’re on the fence of whether to purchase a portable or a permanently installed backup generator, here are a few things to consider:

  • What do you need powered? A permanently affixed, standby generator is better suited for powering lights, heating and cooling systems, sump pumps, or anything that is hardwired into your home like security systems. With a portable generator, appliances need to be plugged directly into the unit using extension cords, which must be rated for the necessary electrical needs and distance. All of this can be a tangled mess, and a lot of wattage calculation is involved to make sure you’re not overloading any systems! That’s often why you’ll see portable generators at events— powering a few outdoor lights or a bar— more often than you’d see these smaller units powering whole home.

  • Do you require smooth power? Devices like televisions and computers often require a more consistent, smooth power to run without damaging the appliances by overloading. A disruption can fry your devices or damage your generator itself and you need a unit that can guarantee a steady connection. Portable generators aren’t as well suited for powering these electronics as a reliable standby unit.

  • How long does it need to be running? Portable generators often run on gas and need to be periodically refueled, since they have a small tank. Portable units also are uncovered, with the engine exposed to the elements. Because of this, they aren’t ideal for harsh weather and cannot be brought inside or ran in an open garage because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from engine exhaust. If your power is out for many days, a portable generator is not ideal.

  • Do you prefer a hands-on or hands-off approach? Whereas standby generators often kick on automatically or with the flip of switch, portable generators need to be manually fired up, refueled and monitored. They’re not going to help you if your power goes out while you’re traveling or away from your family to fire up the unit.

Generally, here’s what our electricians recommend when deciding between a standby vs. portable generator:

  • Powering your whole home? You need a standby. 
  • Juicing sensitive electronics like computers, TVs, etc.? Standby.
  • Want to ensure the food in your fridge doesn’t spoil or your home surveillance continues while you’re away? Standby.
  • Don’t want to deal with refueling and plugging in specific cords/devices with limited cord reach and wattage concerns? Standby.
  • Need long-term power, to power part or your entire home for a few days on end? Standby.
  • Just need lights and basic appliance usage for a few hours? Portable will probably do.
  • Have a budget under $2,000 and only need short-term home power in the event of an emergency? Portable will get you by for a half day.
  • Need a little extra juice to power high voltage equipment for a backyard event, like DJing equipment, filling an inflatable bounce house, etc. Portable comes in handy!

If you’re still considering a portable generator vs. a standby unit, read our article on other considerations.

What is Natural Gas?

Natural gas is a gas mixture of several gases, but mostly methane. It takes the form of a light, airy gas at normal temperatures and pressures. 

It’s important to note that NG is not the same as gasoline, like you’d fill your car with, as gasoline is always a liquid at normal temperatures and pressures. While both are indeed fuel sources, a standby generator that is fueled by “gas” doesn’t run on the conventional gasoline you’d get at a gas station.

Natural gas pipelines may run beneath your home or be installed professionally, and are regulated by meter and fuel line.

What is Liquid Propane?

Propane is a byproduct of natural gas processing and petroleum refining. It’s a liquid by nature, which is converted into a gas when used for power. When your liquid propane tank is heated up for use, the liquid on the surface boils and turns into a gas, used to fuel your generator. 

Liquid propane can be delivered via truck and stored in a permanent underground tank installed near your standby generator.

What Are the Advantages & Disadvantages of Each Fuel Type?

Let’s take a look at the big differences between natural gas and liquid propane generators:

Natural Gas



  • Historically cheap. Natural gas rates are measured in price per cubic foot, whereas propane rates are measured in price per gallon. With this difference in mind, it’s hard to compare the two fault types apple-for-apple; however, NG is generally less expensive by unit.
  • Readily available. Because natural gas lines don’t require electricity, you have a fuel source to power your generator right away. If you had to fill your propane tank, you may be waiting for the propane truck delivery man! *Availability is both an advantage and disadvantage for NG; see other column.

  • No tank maintenance. Since NG will come from underground pipelines, you don’t have to worry about servicing or cleaning a propane tank every few years.
  • Great for limited space. For those with small yards, you won’t have to store a fuel tank underground. 
  • No access. To connect your generator to a natural gas source, you’ll need access to an underground natural gas line. Standard residential natural gas meters might not have the capacity to supply enough fuel for larger standby generators and you may need to upgrade your meter. Or, some rural areas don’t have access altogether! Some gas companies will install one for you, or you may need to get a permit.

  • Limited shelf life. Natural gas can “go bad” after a certain window of time. The hydrocarbons start to evaporate from the gas, making it less efficient or damaging to your generator.

  • Potentially restricted. During natural disasters when a pipeline is damaged, NG might not be available or restricted. Because natural gas is metered and regulated through this line, you have less control should a problem arise.

Liquid Propane

Advantages Disadvantages
  • An easy dig. Excavate a hole in your yard and bury an in-ground propane tank, without much hassle.
  • Cleaner burn. LP has nearly double the BTU or heating efficiency of NG. Propane is a cleaner burning fuel than NG, which is ultimately better for the environment and on your generator’s life expectancy.
  • Quieter. Generally, propane generators aren’t as loud as NG-powered units, so you can open your windows without concern of noise pollution.
  • Easy home delivery. Trucks can easily come and top off your tank when you need a refill, or prior to a big storm.
  • Long shelf life. Propane can last indefinitely if safety stored.
  • Extremely flammable. If exposed to fire, LP is very combustible and potentially hazardous. If lines are broken or the tank damaged, you many have a concern.
  • Higher generator cost. In some instances, the initial cost of your power unit may be higher than a NG-powered generator.
  • Higher fuel costs. Rates fluctuate, but you’re generally burning more LP per unit than NG to achieve the same level of power, as LP has a lower energy density.

Ultimately, both natural gas or liquid propane-powered generators can be smart choices for homeowners. Perhaps the largest influencer for many is if they even have access to natural gas lines, as some rural areas may not have underground piping.

How to Pick the Right Size Generator

Standby generators are sized in units of power called kilowatts (kW). In terms of conversion, one kilowatt equals 1,000 watts (so a 20 kW generator produces 20,000 watts!).

Generators also have a thing called an automatic transfer switch (ATS), which we discussed in the earlier section above. The ATS tells your generator to kick on when a disruption in current is detected; and this switch needs juice to operate— usually the equivalent of your breaker panel’s amperage (so a 200-amp breaker panel needs a 200-amp switch).

Now that you know the basics about how generator sizing, let’s talk about why it’s so important to find the right size unit for your home.

  • A generator without adequate power limits your luxuries. If you get a generator that does not have the kW your appliances or home system requires, you can be without important features when in the dark.
  • Voltage drops can damage devices. If you are trying to power more than your generator can handle, you can experience voltage drops. These drastic leaps can not only damage your linked appliances, but it can also harm the generator itself.
  • Overkill wastes your money. If you go all out and buy a generator with more watts than you need, you’ll be paying a pretty penny for unnecessary juice. 

Determining Your Wattage Requirements

Ask yourself what devices you absolutely cannot do without during an outage and write them down. Yes, we said write them down! We need to do some math.

Honda made a nice list for us that shows how much juice a number of household devices require to operate. Take a look at their wattage estimation sheet or try this calculator from, which can reveal the wattage of other items not listed on Honda’s page. Just stick to’s wattage rating for your selected item, and jot that down, without worrying about using the calculator itself. 

In a recent blog post, we outlined an example situation, which we copied again here to help you determine the right wattage for your standby generator:

Example: A Tale of Two Homes

John and Jeanette Wilson and the Jones Family both have about 2,000 square foot homes in the Naples area, but have different ideas on what they want covered if there is a power outage.

John and Jeanette Wilson want to only power the “essentials” if the power is out. They want to stay comfortable with AC and hot water, but don’t necessarily want to keep their whole house at full running capacity. 

Here’s the Wilson’s list:

  • 2 Light fixtures – 175W (far less if they are using LED bulbs)
  • Electric Water Heater – 4000W
  • Central A/C – 4500W
  • Refrigerator – 1500W
  • Phone and tablet charging- 30-50W


The Wilsons should look at an 11kW home backup generator. With an 11kW backup generator, they should be able to run their basics, keeping themselves comfortable, and their food cold and safe from spoilage.

The Jones family wants to power their whole home up, as if there were no outage. They also made a list of the appliances and devices they want powered.

Here’s the Jones’ (larger!) list:

  • 15 Light fixtures – 1225W
  • Electric Water Heater – 4000W
  • Central A/C – 4500W
  • Refrigerator – 1500W
  • Phone/tablet charging – 50W
  • 2 Laptop computers – 150W
  • Microwave – 1000W
  • Stove/Range – 3000W
  • Dishwasher – 1500W
  • Clothes Washer – 1500W
  • Clothes Dryer – 1500W
  • 3 LCD TVs – 450W
  • WiFi & Cable Modem – 40W
  •  Garage Door Opener – 2300W


The Jones should consider a 25kW generator to power their whole home. There are 22kW backup generators that we carry, but again it is always best to round up— opt for the generator that offers the next step above your estimated kilowatt needs, not below.

Now that you have determined all of the essentials (or luxuries) you’d like powered during an outage, simply add the wattage total together. Just like in the example outlined above, it’s always safest to round up and get a unit with a little extra juice, as opposed to cutting it close every time you’re in the dark! 

Standby generators can last for many years, so we always recommend going a little bigger than you think, in case your needs change further down the road.


Comparing Generator Brands

There are many brands to consider when choosing a standby generator, and we know it can become overwhelming comparing and contrasting all their differing features.

That’s why we put together a comparison guide, to help narrow down your choices. 

Download The Battle of the Home Standby Generator: Generac vs. Kohler vs. Briggs & Stratton, which stacks three size generators— small, medium and large units— against three of the biggest brands in the business. 

It’s free, and should get you one step closer to securing reliable backup power!

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Whole House Generator Costs: How Much Will You Really Pay?

You’ve been wanting to invest in a whole house generator for some time now, but the cost has always scared you away. 

But do you really know how much a new standby unit would cost?

Most homeowners push off the install because they envision dollar signs much higher than the reality of the purchase. Price range can vary dramatically depending on a few different factors— and each choice can affect the final price of your investment.

Let’s look at a few of the factors that can influence how much you’ll pay for a whole house generator:

Cost Factor #1: Wattage. How much power do you need for your electrical load?

Oftentimes the biggest influencer of your whole home generator cost will be the size of the unit. When we say size, we don’t necessarily mean how heavy or big the generator is, (although this will increase as your power requirements increase too!). 

By generator size, we generally mean the kilowatts (kW) or “juice” that your standby will need to operate. For instance, in our Battle of the Home Standby Generator guide, you’ll notice comparisons of three popular home generator sizes: 11, 16 and 20 kW units. Standby generator costs will vary by wattage and of course brand (which we’ll get to as well further down). 

Let’s use Generac units for example. At the time of writing this, prices for small to large-sized units start at $3,459 for an 11 kW generator, $4,219 for a 16 kW and $4,949 for the 20 kW Guardian Series models. 

If you’re not sure which generator size your home needs, read our helpful article.

Cost Factor #2: Fuel Type. Will you buy a natural gas or liquid propane generator?

Generators typically run on two power sources: natural gas (NG) or liquid propane (LP). The price of your standby unit can vary by fuel type, both in terms of initial purchase cost and refueling needs. 

Generally, liquid propane standby generators have a higher upfront price tag, but can save you more overtime on fuel cost. But when choosing between NG or LP whole house generators, the choice isn’t always so cut-and-dried, as both units have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages. 

For instance, natural gas fuel is generally less expensive by unit— and because the fuel comes from underground pipelines, you don’t have to worry about service or cleaning propane tank costs every few years. Yet, liquid propane often burns cleaner, and LP units generally run quieter, so some homeowners choose propane despite the extra costs. 

Read our article and weigh the pros and cons of natural gas vs. liquid propane-fueled units to help you determine your whole house generator cost.

Cost Factor #3: Installation. Will you need a permit to dig a tank / how far do your lines need to run?

Do you even have access to natural gas lines in your neighborhood? Some rural areas may not have underground piping, forcing you to choose LP. Liquid propane generators require an external fuel source, and homeowners often choose to install an underground propane tank to keep a generous supply on hand at all times.

It’s not uncommon for certain areas or communities to require a special permit to dig and install these tanks, and can cost you extra down the road if you are caught without one. For instance, even if no one rats you out (unlikely, as it’s hard to miss a big, shiny generator permanently installed in your backyard!), you will need a permit sticker to pass inspection when reselling your home

Installation may cost more or less, for example, depending on how far from your home the team needs to run fuel lines or for safe installation of ventilation, fuel and exhaust ducting. If existing electrical equipment needs updating to support the generator (like adding a new subpanel near the original electrical panel or an automatic transfer switch), this can tact on more money too. 

Cost Factor #4: Quality of the Unit. Which brand will you choose?

Just like any product, you can end up paying a little more for a trusted standby generator brand, but it’s often worth it. 

An off-brand generator might have a more attractive upfront cost, but will that unit come with a reputation for excellence or a reliable warranty? Long-standing brands like Generac or Kohler have generous warranties and years of innovation to develop  highly efficient units, which often end up saving you more money in the long run. 

There can be a lot of whole house generator brands to choose from and the choice can become overwhelming. Read our Battle of the Home Standby Generator guide for comparisons from three of the most popular brands.

The Last Hidden Cost: Maintenance & Service

Once you buy a new standby generator, the cost considerations don’t end. Purchasing a generator without included support can mean expensive fixes or services later.

If you’re on the fence about where to purchase a generator from, look no further! Our team at SWFL Electric offers timely and professional repairs or service to help reduce your costs later down the road. 

See what makes our crew different and explore the perks of buying a generator with us over the big box stores. Then, reach out for a fast and affordable quote. 

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How Do Backup/Standby Generators Work?

As a Florida resident, you know heavy winds and rains knock over trees and power lines all the time— and you admit you could really benefit from a backup generator.

But are backup generators the same thing as a standby generator? Also, do they power your home automatically, without you having to do anything once an outage strikes?

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

What is a Backup/Standby Generator?

A backup or standby generator is an alternative power supply, which automatically turns on and supplies power in the event of an outage. Think of it as your guaranteed power source when a nasty storm causes a neighborhood blackout.

These generators come in various sizes, from units strong enough to power your entire home or business, to those with only enough juice to keep the lights and your refrigerator on. Standby units also run on different fuel sources, such as natural gas, diesel or propane, adding to your list of choices!

How Does a Backup/Standby Generator Work?

Standby generators are not to be confused with portable generators, as unlike portable power sources, these backup units are permanent fixtures.

Standby generators connect to your home’s or business’s wiring, and are always installed with a thing called a transfer switch. This switch sits, quietly monitoring your building’s connection to local utility power.

There’s two types of switches: automatic or manual. Just like it sounds, an automatic switch works on its own, without you having to manually turn it on.

If the transfer switch box senses a disruption in power, AKA power stops flowing due to an outage, your switch activates. Within seconds of a power cut, the switch automatically kicks on your standby generator and transfers your utility electrical circuits to this backup power system.

How Big of a Generator Do I Need to Power My Electronics?

First things first. Decide what you absolutely need power in the event of an outage. Do you simply want to have lights and to keep food in your fridge from expiring until power is restored? Or, do you need to run dozens of computers and two commercial air conditioner units at your office?

Assemble a list of what absolutely needs power and determine the wattage needed to power all these devices. The size of your generator and its level of power will vary based on your watts requirements, but the linked article can help you calculate this.

A certified electrician can also assess your home or business and ensure you have the right standby generator for your needs, instead. 

The Right Generator for SWFL Home & Business Owners

When it comes to generator shopping, there’s almost too many choices. How do you know which is best for its performance and price?

Here at Southwest Florida Electric, we trust two long-standing brands: Kohler & Generac.

Interested in learning more about our generator installation, repair & maintenance? We’ll assess your devices, calculate your wattage requirements and make a recommendation on a backup unit that’s right for you.

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Kohler Generator vs Generac Generator

This past hurricane season, Irma gave Southwest Florida a not so gentle reminder of the importance of hurricane preparedness. When making your hurricane preparedness plan this year, you may be considering adding a generator to your list. But which brand should you choose?

Today, we will compare two of the most popular options – Kohler brand generators vs Generac’s offerings.

Comparison #1: Engine

Generac and Kohler make both portable and permanently installed home backup generators. They both manufacture their own, custom engines, they both are built to last and engineered to work well in a variety of environments.

Generac portable generators can run on either gasoline or LP fuel. While Kohler portable generators require a conversion kit to run on other fuels aside from gasoline, with the Tri-Fuel conversion kit, they can run on gasoline, LP, or propane.

Both Kohler and Generac have permanently-installed home backup generator lines run on your home’s LP or natural gas, so no refueling is necessary.

Kohler has been making engines for almost 40 years more than Generac, but both are quality choices.

Comparison #2: Warranty

Kohler offers a 2,000 hour or 5 year warranty on it’s standalone products, and 3 year warranty on it’s portable models. Generac offers a 3 year warranty on it’s standalone generators, and a 2 year warranty on it’s portable products.

Comparison #3: Housing/Enclosures

A generator is only as good as it’s housing – it protects the unit from the elements and keeps animals – and children – out.  Kohler encloses some of their lower priced home backup generator models with powder coated aluminium or steel, their mid range and up with a more corrosion-resistant composite enclosure.

Generac offers one lower priced home backup generator with a powder coated steel enclosure, and corrosion-resistant powder coated aluminium enclosures for the rest of their line.

Comparison #4 Environmental Impact

As mentioned earlier, both Generac and Kohler have flexible fuel options, allowing you to use cleaner fuel choices like LP and natural gas. Along with this, Generac generators also feature their special “G-Flex” technology, allowing the generator to work according to your energy demands, saving energy.

While this isn’t a feature Kohler offers, even Kohler’s entry level portable generator is CARB compliant, meaning it meets even California’s strict carbon emissions standards.

Comparison #5 Noise Level

Both Generac and Kohler generators have a reputation for being quiet. The portable models tend to be a bit louder than their standalone, permanently installed relatives, around 73-75 dB – roughly as loud as a garbage disposal or kitchen blender. Home backup generators tend to be significantly quieter as a whole – Generac’s mid-range home backup generator rings in at about 66dB, about as loud as a lawnmower running a few houses down, or about as loud as your air conditioner’s condenser.

Generac’s home backup generators also feature a quiet-test mode – a routine weekly test cycle that runs at ⅔ its normal operating RPM keeping the noise level very low during the test, to the sound level of an idling car. While Kohler doesn’t provide decibel ratings on their generators, they do state that their mid-range model operates at a sound level similar to an air conditioner condenser.

Both Kohler and Generac offer well-built, high quality generators that will provide your family with peace of mind when the power fails. Let Southwest FL Electric help you choose the model that is right for your home and needs – contact us today!

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Monthly & Annual Maintenance Tips for Keeping Home Standby Generator Running Smoothly

You’re the kind of person who understands the importance of preparedness. You’ve seen a hurricane— or five!— and you know that you have your food and water supply, your medications, your evacuation plan, and your first aid kit. Your pets are microchipped. Your tires are full. Your important computer files are backed up. And your standby generator is ready to go.

At least, you think it is. For sure… Isn’t it?

How do you really know? If your generator has been sitting untouched in a storage room for the last year, you don’t, and while a standby generator can save your lifestyle or even your life in the event of an extended power outage, not just any generator will do: you need a generator that works.

But there you’ll do different things to maintain a permanently installed standby generator than you would a portable generator.

Get in the swing of a routine maintenance schedule with these tips:

Monthly Standby Generator Maintenance

Like a car or any other complex machine, generators require regular maintenance. If you were to find an older, rarely-used car in a relative’s garage, you wouldn’t just hope it starts up when you need to drive it, would you? No! Before driving it, you’d have it checked out, or at least test the obvious: Does it start? Do the brakes work? Does the engine sound okay? Are the tires full, or at least full enough to get to the nearest filling station? Is there gas in the tank? Does it need an oil change? Is it clean? Is it leaking? Have any critters taken up residence inside? (Yes, this is absolutely something to check for.) Does it have fuel, oil, and coolant?

Here are some basic things you should check on a monthly basis to ensure your home standby generator is up to date and the generator is in good working condition: 

  • Run the standby generator
  • Make sure there are no alarms or warnings 
  • Ensure the unit is clear of debris and pests who may try finding shelter in the housing
  • Check fuel levels 
  • Ensure that the generator is in “Auto” mode, for automatic startup
  • Make sure there are no fluid leaks
  • Check engine coolant level

Most people have the ability to check on their generator at this basic level, but being systematic about it is key. Having a whole house generator maintenance checklist on hand to remind you of what to look for (and how often) absolutely helps. 

Here are a few other signs your generator may need repair or servicing.

generator maintenance

Semi-Annual & Annual Maintenance 

Twice a year or so, you’ll want to perform more thorough home generator maintenance, looking more specifically at individual parts. Things like batteries, drive belts and cooling lines all need to be inspected. Filters and spark plugs need to be changed on an annual basis.

Even if your generator is rarely used, parts still need to be replaced over time. Even just knowing what the individual pieces and parts are and what they should look, feel, and sound like can go a long way towards making you feel more confident that your generator will do its job in an emergency. 

Here’s what they’re going to be checking for you semi-annually: 

  • Inspect the enclosure
  • Check battery cables and connections for signs of corrosion 
  • Inspect drive belts
  • Check coolant lines and connections for damage
  • Check for oil leaks and inspect lubrication system hoses and connectors
  • Check for fuel leaks and inspect fuel system hoses and connectors
  • Inspect the exhaust system, muffler and exhaust pipe
  • Check and clean air cleaner units
  • Inspect air induction piping and connections
  • Inspect the DC electrical system, control panel and accessories
  • Inspect the AC wiring and accessories

Because home generator maintenance you should be done regularly and can be time-consuming and require specialized knowledge, working with an electrician is important. 

Here are a few more items to check annually: 

  • Change oil and filter
  • Change the fuel filter
  • Change the air filter
  • Clean the crankcase breather
  • Change spark plugs
  • Check coolant concentration
  • Flush the cooling system (as needed)
  • Perform load bank testing
  • Fuel testing & reconditioning (diesel-fueled units only)
  • Remove water from the fuel tank (diesel-fueled units only)

Some people are nodding their heads right now saying, “Yeah, yeah, got it, no problem.” Others who are not the DIY-type may seem overwhelmed,

For anything out of your comfort zone— especially an annual inspection— it’s best to have the work done by a professional. 

Southwest Florida Electric is here for you, and all your whole house generator maintenance needs.


Trusted Maintenance Near You

The worst moment to realize you need a new part for your generator, or you have neglected generator maintenance, is the same moment a storm hits. 

A regularly maintained generator doesn’t just power your home or business, it also empowers you to develop a sense of calm, knowing that you’re ready for anything, whatever the weather may bring.

Let us help with your home standby generator maintenance, today!