photo vanWhy should I buy an automatic backup generator instead of a portable generator?

During a utility power outage, an automatic backup generator provides numerous advantages over a portable generator:


  • The American Red Cross recommends permanently installed backup generators as a safer way to provide backup power to a home than a portable generator.
  • With an automatic backup generator properly installed outside, your home is protected from deadly carbon monoxide poisoning that is a much greater risk with portable generators.
  • Running on the home’s natural gas or LP fuel supply, it is less expensive to run than gasoline and does not need to be refilled.
  • They start automatically within seconds of a power outage, and eliminate the need to haul a portable generator outside or run extension cords throughout your home.
  • They provide protection 24/7, whether you’re home or away, and they turn themselves off when utility power returns, so there is no need to monitor the unit during an outage.



What is an automatic backup generator?


An automatic backup 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. See our “How It Works” video for more information.



What is the difference between an automatic air-cooled generator and an automatic liquid-cooled generator?


The engines! Air-cooled generators come with engines that use fans to force air across the engine for cooling, while liquid-cooled generators use enclosed radiator systems for cooling, similar to an automobile. Generally, liquid-cooled engines are used on larger kW generators due to the larger engines required for the higher power output.



How does the Generac OHVI® engine compare to air-cooled engines used in other brands of backup generators?


Unlike other engines, used in backup power generation, Generac OHVI engines are made specifically for generators. They are engineered to run for the long periods of time required during a severe power outage or on a job site, utilizing the same type of pressurized oil lubrication used to give automobile engines long and trouble-free lives.



Can an automatic backup 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. Our automatic generators are produced for use as backup to utility power specifically and should not be used as primary power.



How do I correctly size a generator for my home?

The most logical way to determine your needs is to envision your home without power. Some outages may be short in duration, while others could last for days or weeks. What would your family miss during an outage? With some basic information you can determine an estimated size by using our Generator Sizing Calculator.
The very best way to understand your options and work within your budget is to schedule a free in-home assessment. During your consultation you will receive the personalized attention and detailed evaluation you need to find a solution that works for your need.
 Explore our automatic home backup solutions



Can I install the generator myself?

As an option, Generac offers the Guardian Series systems prepackaged and pre-wired with comprehensive installation instructions. 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 or licensed contractor.



Do the 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 many Generac dealers offer annual maintenance contracts for a worry-free ownership experience. Refer to the owner’s manual for routine maintenance procedures and schedules. You can find a digital copy of your owner’s manual here.



What type of oil should I use?

An SAE rated high detergent oil that meets API Service Class SF requirements for gasoline engines, similar to your car. Refer to your owner’s manual for details. To find your owner’s manual online, visit our Product Support page and enter your serial number or model number.



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 may trip, disconnecting the unit from the load. For more information, please consult your owner’s manual or contact us.



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 Product Support Page or contact us for further assistance.




How much electricity does an average American home use?

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2013 the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,908 kilowatt hours (kWh). This translates to about 30 kilowatt hours per day.



We have frequent power outages because of storms and inclement weather as well as the nation’s aging electrical grid. What’s the right backup power solution for me?

The most reliable source of power for extended or unpredictable power outages is a home backup generator. The generator, which in most cases is connected directly to a home’s natural gas line, has a constant supply of fuel and can operate through extended outages, keeping homes safe, lit and powered.

For people concerned with a loss of natural gas supply during a storm, generators can be fueled by a dedicated LP tank as well.

With this continuous fuel source, generators are much better able to face the unpredictability of dangerous, storm-prompted or lengthy outages rather than a home battery, which relies on an external power source to recharge it after only a few hours of use.



Can a battery provide the same backup power support to my home as a generator?

The simple answer is no. Both products do help supply electricity that homeowners can use for any electrical device in their home—from air conditioning to microwaves.

Home backup generators, when properly installed and wired to the home’s circuitry, can provide adequate wattage to the home to run all selected circuits simultaneously, with the output they require. Home appliances draw different amounts of power when they operate—a microwave may require 1000 watts of power, and a refrigerator may require 500 to 750 watts to operate. Generators steadily produce their power, fully supporting all circuits they are wired to.

Home batteries cannot supply the full wattage of the power they may hold all at once. For example, a battery that may be charged with up to 10 kWh of energy, in order to protect the longevity of the battery, cannot dispense its power at more than a 2 kilowatts-per-hour rate. This means that only certain appliances would be able to draw power at any given time from the battery. In a power outage, the battery could support only limited items in a home at one time (e.g., just the refrigerator, but not the furnace).



What are the most common reasons why homeowners invest in home backup generators vs. battery backup systems?

Heating and air conditioning are top concerns, along with running water and hot water. All of these items are high-load appliances and require a high capacity to start. These actions consume significant power and could quickly drain a battery.

There a number of ways homeowners can prepare for a power outage.



How would any product help me live “off grid”?


Homeowners who wish to operate the appliances and features of their home without being connected to their community’s standard power grid explore a number of options to provide constant energy to their home.

Often these options still require a fuel source. In the case of certain battery backup options, the fuel source is stored solar energy. By going “off grid” a home only powered by a battery power source using solar fuel must rely on the unpredictable coverage and collection of sunlight to recharge it—impractical in most parts of the country.


Home backup generators’ fuel is often available in the home’s area in the form of natural gas or propane. A more reliable resource—natural gas—is abundant, relatively inexpensive and cleaner burning than many other fuel types. Propane fuel can be delivered and refilled as the owner desires, unlike sunlight.

For those homeowners who wish to disconnect from the power grid in their area, the power that supplies their home must be sourced to a power-supplying unit and safely designed to transfer to their electrical system, a process that requires a professional electrician or generator/battery installer.

For anyone who is interested in grid independence, a generator is a valuable component of his or her off-grid process.


Generac has engineered the EcoGen home backup generator as the first automatic unit warranted for off-grid use when used in an alternative energy system.



Can I use a home backup generator to go off grid and cut the cord from my electric utility company?

Home backup generators are designed for backup power in the event of a power outage. Using a generator to power a home full-time is likely impractical from a fuel-consumption perspective, maintenance requirements, etc. However, some backup generators, like the Generac EcoGen, are designed to work in conjunction with alternative-energy-powered homes (solar, wind, etc.) that may be disconnected from the grid.



Is my ability to have a home backup generator or a home battery limited by the region I live in?

A generator is equally effective in all regions and climates. Some generators are even made with protective shells and anchoring systems for homes in high-wind or hurricane-prone areas. 
Like a generator, a home battery powered by solar panels can be installed in any region; however, it is less effective in areas with inconsistent sunlight or on homes with sunlight filtered by shade.



Will battery technology be available for generators?

While batteries will have a place in home energy systems, storage battery technology is not advanced enough to be a cost-effective addition to a generator used as a backup power source.



How does the cost of battery backup compare to the cost of home backup? generator backup?

Both products require installation and proper consultation with electricians in order to ensure your home’s electrical circuitry is properly handled. Generators, beginning at smaller wattages like 7kw, could be installed for as little as $1,000 to around $2,000. Prices start at $1,899 for the Generac PowerPact 7kw generator.

The new home battery is priced at approximately $3,000 for the battery. Installation prices are undetermined, but may reflect standard hourly pay for electricians, as the generator does. And the battery will require installation of an AC/DC power inverter, typically costing $2,000 or more, to convert its power output for use in the home. Batteries may also need to be replaced after a few years, more frequently if they go through frequent charging/discharging cycles.

The return on investment, however, makes power supplied by a generator less expensive over the life of the product based on how much output it provides.

For example, to provide the same 16 kilowatts of continuous power as a Generac 16,000-Watt Air Cooled Automatic Backup Generator with 200-Amp SE Rated Transfer Switch retailing for around $4,000, a homeowner would need eight stacked Tesla batteries at a cost of $45,000 for a nine-year lease.

Does a backup generator require an AC/DC power inverter like a battery? storage product?

No, the generator produces AC power, which can connect directly to a home’s electrical distribution panel.



How much power output could a generator produce?

Generac offers systems ranging from 8kW up to 22kW and more depending on the coverage needed. The most popular Generac generator model produces 22kW, which is commonly installed to power the entire home, including all the most common appliances in a home, such as high-load central air conditioners, electric heaters, kitchen appliances, etc.



How much power output could the home battery produce?

Certain battery systems can produce about 2kW on average and 3.3 kW peak.



What is the difference in availability and support for a backup home battery and a generator?

Currently, the whole-house battery is a fledgling product with no full-scale distribution network or availability.



How long will a battery backup system power a home through a power? outage?

All back-up systems are different and their effectiveness depends on how much power your home requires. According to a recent article in Wired, a 7kWh battery system would power an average home for 5.6 hours, assuming it is fully charged when the power outage occurs. The practical runtime of the battery system was estimated at 3 hours. Bloomberg News, explores the output of a home battery system. The 10kWh system puts out just 2 kilowatts of continuous power, which could be maxed out by a single vacuum, cleaner, hair dryer, microwave or clothes iron. The battery isn’t powerful enough to operate a pair of space heaters; an entire home facing a winter power outage would need much more.



What is the difference between a home backup generator and a home battery system?

The prime difference is that a battery is meant to store power and a generator creates power. In a power outage, a generator can continuously produce power; a battery can only distribute what has been stored.

Learn more about how a home backup generator works




Where is the engine made?

The engines used on the Generac XP and XG Series of portables are manufactured at our Generac Power Systems, Inc. factory in Whitewater, WI. Generac engines are industrial grade engines designed to provide the ultra-quiet, longer-lasting performance required of portable generators. They also run 30-50 degrees cooler, are 5% more fuel-efficient and reduce oil consumption by 25%.



What is the difference between rated watts and maximum (surge) watts?

Rated watts describe the amount of power the portable generator can produce continuously. Maximum wattage is the power that the generator can produce for short periods of time. Motor starting is a good example of maximum wattage requirements.



Can the generator be used during inclement weather?

Generators can be used during a wide variety of weather temperatures, but should be protected from the elements when not in use to prevent shorting and rusting. NEVER run a generator indoors.



Can I vent the exhaust out of an enclosed area?

No. Never run the generator in the home or an enclosed area. Portable generators are designed to run outside where there is plenty of ventilation.



Should the fuel be drained when storing the portable generator for more than 30 days?

Yes. It is highly recommended that you drain the fuel from the tank and run the carburetor dry. OHVI engines meet EPA and CARB regulations and are less tolerant of stale fuel.



Does the portable generator need to be grounded?

Yes. For safety, the generator must be properly grounded. If it’s not grounded, you run the risk of electrocution. We strongly recommend that you check and adhere to all applicable federal, state and local regulations relating to grounding.


What type of gasoline is recommended?

Use clean, fresh unleaded gasoline with a minimum 85-octane rating.



What type of oil is recommended? How often should it be changed?

Above 40°F, use SAE 30. Below 40°F and down to 10°F, use 10W-30. Below 10°F, use synthetic 5W-30. Oil should be changed after the first 8 hours of operation and every 200 hours of run time thereafter.




How do I know what size generator I need?


The answer to this question depends on incoming utility service, coverage desired, fuel supply, and budget.  A professional assessment by a qualified and licensed Generac dealer is the best ways to ensure the generator you choose fits your specific needs. Contact us today for a complimentary in home assessment.



Do I need a permit for an automatic generator?  

Yes, an automatic standby generator installation requires an electrical and/or building permit and electrical inspection.  EPS provides custom permit processing service at no extra charge to its installation customers.  We schedule the electrical inspection and review the permitting process with our clients when our work is complete.



Is an automatic standby generator taxable?  

Like all capital improvements in NYS, the contractor is liable for sales tax on all taxable materials and supplies, including the equipment.  The customer does not pay NYS sales tax to the contractor for the labor and material of a capital improvement.  However, if a consumer buys the materials, whether locally or out of state (i.e. online), the purchaser is responsible to pay applicable NYS sales tax at the local rates to either the vendor or directly to NYS if the vendor us not authorized to collect NYS sales tax.



Should I buy a generator online?  

Things to consider that EPS provides that an online retainer cannot:  proper sizing / utility service assessment to make sure the product delivered is the right product to suit your application and fits your needs;  Generator on-site delivery to properly zoned location, in accordance with local zoning (vs. freight carrier driveway delivery);  EPS preps site, uncrates product, discards packaging materials, takes full responsibility for product until installation is complete;  Battery included with EPS purchase;  Local sales tax paid by EPS;  vs. online – no battery, may not charge required sales tax, delivers to driveway – someone must be there to sign, and Generac warranty does not cover shipping damages if discovered after freight delivery when purchased online.


Source: Generac Generators.