How to Weather Major Storms With Your Standby Generator

As the Atlantic hurricane season rolls on, it’s crucial to ensure your home or business is prepared for potential power outages. While portable generators offer a temporary solution, standby generators provide automatic backup power, keeping your lights on and essential appliances running during even the fiercest storms. This handy guide explores the essential dos and don’ts for maintaining your standby generator system throughout the season, ensuring peace of mind when you need it most.

Investing in a Standby Generator is the Smart Choice

Before digging into storm preparation, consider the advantages of a standby generator over a portable model. Standby generators are permanently installed, wired directly into your home’s electrical system through an automatic transfer switch (ATS). This eliminates the need for manual setup and connection during a storm, ensuring a seamless transition to backup power. Additionally, standby generators offer several safety benefits:

Automatic Operation

Unlike portables that require manual startup, standby generators automatically kick in upon power loss, providing uninterrupted power. This convenience is crucial when the wind picks up and rain crashes down during power outages caused by major storms!

Safer Placement

Standby generators, permanently installed outdoors with proper ventilation and clear of flood zones, offer a safer alternative to portable units. Portable generators used indoors pose a serious risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, while those located too close to windows or doors can bring exhaust fumes inside. Additionally, flooding can create an electrocution hazard with portable generators.

Higher Power Capacity

Standby generators offer a significant advantage in power output compared to portable generators. They can comfortably run multiple essential appliances at once without overloading. Unlike portable generators with limited wattage, standby generators are sized specifically for your home’s needs. This ensures they have the power to run critical systems like pumps, HVAC units, refrigerators, and even sensitive electronics, preventing performance issues and extending their lifespan.

Permanent Installation

Once installed and maintained -by professionals, standby generators are ready to use at any time, eliminating the need to set up and refuel a portable unit during an emergency.

Fuel Efficiency

Typically, standby generators are connected to a natural gas line or large propane tank, providing a more consistent and longer-lasting fuel source compared to the limited fuel storage of portable generators.For more details on why a standby generator is a wise investment, check out our related article: Why Invest in a Standby Generator This Hurricane Season? But first, let’s dive into the dos and don’ts of stationary standby generator operation before, during, and after storms.

Preparing Your Standby Generator Before a Storm

Do: Schedule a Professional Inspection

  • Annual Maintenance: Have your generator inspected and serviced by a certified technician at least once a year, while bi-annual maintenance is highly recommended. This includes checking the fuel system, battery, and overall functionality.
  • Test Run: Conduct a test run of the generator to ensure it starts correctly and transfers power smoothly. Regular testing can reveal potential issues that need to be addressed before a storm hits. Consult your instruction manual or ask your service technician for proper testing.

Don’t: Wait Until the Last Minute

  • Avoid Procrastination: Do not wait until a storm is imminent to prepare your generator. This can lead to missed maintenance issues and potential operational failures when you need power the most.
  • Neglect Fuel Levels: Ensure that your generator’s fuel supply is adequate. For generators connected to propane tanks, confirm that the tanks are full. If your generator runs on natural gas, check for any possible service disruptions in your area.

Do: Check Your Generator’s Location

  • Clear Debris: Ensure that the area around your generator is free of debris, vegetation, and any other obstructions that could interfere with its operation or cooling.
  • Proper Ventilation: Make sure the generator is situated in a well-ventilated area to prevent overheating and ensure exhaust fumes are safely dispersed.

Don’t: Ignore Professional Safety Protocols

  • Secure Connections: During routine maintenance, your qualified generator technician will inspect all electrical connections for tightness and check for any signs of wear or damage to wiring or fuel lines. To ensure the safe operation of your generator, never attempt any repairs yourself!
  • Follow Manufacturer Guidelines: Adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines for maintenance and operation to ensure the safe and effective use of your generator.

Running Your Standby Generator During a Storm

Do: Monitor Performance

  • Regular Checks: If safe, periodically check the generator’s performance during the storm. Ensure it is running smoothly and providing the necessary power to your home or business.
  • Remote Monitoring: Utilize any available remote monitoring systems to keep an eye on your generator’s status without having to venture outside during dangerous conditions.

Don’t: Overload the Generator

  • Manage Power Usage: Be mindful of the power load on your generator. Overloading can cause the system to fail or reduce its efficiency. Prioritize critical systems and appliances to ensure continuous operation.

Do: Maintain Communication

  • Emergency Contacts: Keep contact information for your generator service provider handy in case you need immediate assistance.
  • Stay Informed: Follow local weather updates and emergency instructions. Being informed will help you make better decisions about the operation and safety of your generator.

Do: Follow Safety Precautions

  • Carbon Monoxide Safety: Make sure the generator’s exhaust is not directed toward living spaces to prevent carbon monoxide buildup, which can be deadly. This is mostly a concern of portable generators, but not if your stationary generator was installed or isn’t performing properly.
  • Proper Usage: Only use the generator as intended. Do not attempt makeshift repairs or modifications during a storm.

Maintaining Your Standby Generator After a Storm

Do: Conduct a Post-Storm Inspection

  • Professional Assessment: Have a certified technician inspect the generator for any damage or wear caused by the storm. This includes checking electrical components, fuel systems, and the overall integrity of the unit.
  • Clean and Clear: Remove any debris that may have accumulated around the generator during the storm. Ensure the ventilation and exhaust systems are clear and functioning properly.

Don’t: Skip Routine Maintenance

  • Regular Servicing: Continue with regular maintenance schedules even after the storm. Routine checks and servicing help prolong the life of your generator and ensure it remains reliable for future use.

Do: Address Any Issues Immediately

  • Prompt Repairs: If any issues are identified during the post-storm inspection, address them immediately. Delaying repairs can lead to more significant problems down the line.
  • Update Systems: Ensure that any firmware or software updates for remote monitoring systems are installed and operational.

Don’t: Neglect Documentation

  • Keep Records: Maintain detailed records of all inspections, maintenance, and repairs. This information is valuable for warranty purposes and helps track the generator’s performance over time.

Do: Replenish Supplies

  • Restock Fuel: If your generator uses propane or another stored fuel source, make sure to replenish your supply. This ensures you are prepared for any future outages.
  • Update Emergency Plans: Review and update your emergency power plans based on the experience from the recent storm. Make any necessary adjustments to improve efficiency and safety.

Stay Safe With a Standby Generator and Professional Service

Properly maintaining your stationary standby generator is essential for ensuring reliable backup power during the Atlantic hurricane season. By following these dos and don’ts before, during, and after a storm, you can maximize the performance and longevity of your generator, providing peace of mind and continuous power for your home or business. While these guidelines offer simple steps for standby generator maintenance,  there’s a significant advantage to partnering with a professional generator company. Imagine the comfort of knowing certified technicians handle everything from installation to routine maintenance and emergency service. They’ll ensure your generator is properly sized, wired, and ventilated, eliminating safety risks like improper placement or overloaded circuits. Furthermore, during a storm, you won’t have to worry about troubleshooting technical issues – a quick call can bring a qualified professional to address any problems, keeping your power on and your family safe. Don’t settle for the stress or potential danger of DIY generator maintenance. Invest in professional expertise for seamless backup power and the ultimate peace of mind during hurricane season.

Trust Tower Generator to Guide You Through Hurricane Season

Atlantic hurricane season is upon us, and with it comes the potential for power outages. At Tower Generator, we’ve been helping Connecticut, western Massachusetts, and eastern New York homes and businesses weather the storms since 1997. We offer comprehensive generator solutions, from start to finish. Need a new generator? We offer authorized sales and installation of top brands like Generac, Cummins, and Kohler. Already have a generator? Our 81-point service program ensures it’s running smoothly, and our emergency service is available if you need it after a storm hits. Let Tower Generator take the worry out of hurricane preparedness. We handle your entire project, from initial consultation to installation and ongoing maintenance. Contact us today to discuss a backup power system or schedule service for your existing unit. Experience the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re prepared for whatever the storm throws your way.