Home & Garden

Ask a plumber: All charged up for a new standby generator

POWER PACKAGE:  A standby home generator keeps power on during an outage.
POWER PACKAGE: A standby home generator keeps power on during an outage. Kohler

Q: I have a small vacation cabin that I close up every year. However, this year I’m excited to be adding a permanently installed residential generator so I can keep the cabin open all year!

Even though it will be a smart investment, I am on a budget. Do they make smaller residential standby generators?

I really don’t want to oversize this job and my budget with a normal-size house generator.

Dan, Maine

A: I start receiving a lot of questions about standby generators in the spring. Also, in the news you soon may hear that it was 10 years ago that Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. This also reminds us about the importance of residential standby generators.

A standby system is not a portable generator that uses electrical cords and runs on gasoline. Standby residential generators are a permanent part of the home’s electrical system, and they run on natural gas or propane fuels and turn on and off automatically. In the last 10 years they have also become more affordable as they gain popularity, and yes, smaller sizes are available.

Example: 14 kW or 20 kW (kilowatt) standby generators are popular home sizes. But, if you check with your licensed standby generator installer, you can also find more affordable smaller-sized units like 12 kW, 10 kW and 8 kW — proving once again that good things do come in small packages.