The Pros and Cons of Standby Generator Systems

The Pros and Cons of Standby Generator Systems

Power outages are becoming more and more common in California. In order to protect against liability and minimize the risk associated with high winds and dry or hot weather, utility companies may shut off power to many customers for hours or even days at a time. Once it’s safe, the power will come back on but because having power can be a necessity for many, what can you do in the meantime?

That’s why so many people are turning to standby generators. These systems provide reliable and plentiful backup power that you can use in the event of an emergency or outage and they’re generally extremely reliable, as well. But, it’s important to learn more about them before making a substantial investment. This blog will shine a light on these systems and help you figure out if one of these systems is the right choice for you.

What Is a Standby Generator?

As the name implies, a standby generator is a generator system that remains on standby at all times. In other words, these systems are permanently installed, always waiting and ready to go at a moment’s notice. They aren’t running all the time, but they can fire up and start working in an extremely short amount of time. How do they do this? Instead of using a small engine supply of gasoline like most portable generators (the type you typically see pulled out of garages during outages), these systems use natural gas to generate power.

Pros of Standby Generators

Standby generators are becoming popular with homeowners because the benefits are immense. Perhaps the biggest perk is that these systems require no setup time when the power goes out and turn on automatically when your power shuts off. Within seconds, a limited amount of power is restored to your home and you can go back to using some of your most important appliances and devices. You may not have the ability to use your HVAC system, for example, but you don’t have to worry about your refrigerator losing its temperature.

These systems also require very little maintenance. In most cases, a standby generator needs nothing more than an annual tune-up to ensure service without the need for refueling, even during longer power outage. Standby generators come in a wide variety of capacities so you can find one that’s the perfect size for your needs.

Finally, standby generators are particularly robust, resilient and capable of continuing to provide power in all types of inclement and even extreme weather conditions. Whether the public grid has been shut down due to a dangerous wildfire or to prevent one - or the power has been naturally knocked out due to extreme wind or high heat - your generator can fire up and get your power back on and working quickly. And because generators are bolted into the ground and protected by high-strength steel enclosures, they are not impacted by winds howling across your property.

Cons of Standby Generators

So what are the downsides to these systems? First may their upfront cost. These systems are an investment in your property and they often carry a higher price tag than a portable generator, particularly when you add installation as well. However, for areas where power outages are a very real risk, a standby generator could very well be worth every penny of their cost.

Second, standby generators are not movable. They need to be permanently installed on your property with a gas line feeding them and for that reason you will always have a large box located somewhere. While companies have done a pretty good job of making these units look reasonably good in nearly any yard, they will stand out in most cases. It is also not advised that you cover them with trees or shrubs, as they depend on airflow to keep cool during operating cycles.

Third, the permit process can be quite long and cumbersome, depending on what city or county in which you reside. Plan on a three to nine month wait period for plan review. Permit fees will range from two to eight thousand dollars.

Elsewhere on Our blog

Elsewhere on our blog this month, we took a closer look at two important topics for homeowners. First, have you ever wondered if HVAC maintenance is really as important as it seems? The answer is a resounding “yes” and we took a closer look at why. If you don’t properly maintain your system, you could find yourself dealing with a number of otherwise avoidable conditions, including reduced system lifespan, excessive breakdowns and even a prematurely lapsed warranty - leading to more expensive repair bills.

Additionally, we examined the threat of a power surge and explained what they are, why they are so dangerous and what they can do to your home. A power surge is a sudden spike in energy flowing through your electrical system and in turn, can cause a huge amount of damage. The best way to prevent the problems these can create is a whole-home surge protection system and our team can help by installing one for you.

Interested in having a generator for your home? Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Solar is here to help! Call us at (408) 868-5500 today to set up your installation appointment.