Frequently Asked Questions

Operating whether you are at home or away, an automatic standby generator is back-up electrical system.  Within seconds of a utility outage, it automatically supplies power to essential circuits in your home.  After power is restored, the generator turns itself off and awaits the next outage.  Like a central air conditioning system, it operates on natural gas or liquid propane and sits outside.

What will a standby generator power?

Through a built-in load center, generators supply electricity to the panel circuits of your home.  By selecting the number of circuits you want to protect, we then match it to the appropriate generator system. Protection is provided to everything on that circuit.  Generators can also power air conditioners, furnaces, water heaters, well pumps, and all other appliances that are hard wired into your electrical panel.

Why should I choose an automatic standby generator over a portable generator?

An automatic standby generator produces a higher quality of electricity than a portable generator.  Operating automatically and running weekly self tests, it ensures proper response to your needs, with no extension cords to plug in or gas tanks to fill.  It automatically operates to protect your home even when you are away and shuts itself off when utility power is restored.

Why circuits instead of watts?

Because appliances can be plugged into various outlets in your home, figuring out wattage requirements of each appliance you want to use during an outage is difficult.  Generators of today have simplified this process.  You do not have to worry about individual items because they allow you to protect everything on chosen circuits.

How are air-cooled and liquid-cooled different?

Air-cooled units have engines we design and produce specifically for our small generators.  Volume production helps keep cost down, making our air-cooled units the most affordable to everyone.  In most residential applications, they cover essential circuits and backup power needs.  Liquid-cooled units use automotive engines for increased power.  This makes them the best choice for large requirements such as larger homes, commercial applications and whole-house coverage in power.

Do generators need to be maintained?

Like a car's engine, periodic filter and oil changes are needed.  Most customers rely on preventative maintenance kits to accomplish routine requirements.  Refer to the owner's manual for routine maintenance procedures and schedules. Kits can be purchased by giving us a call.

What is the advantage of aluminum enclosures?

Aluminum is resistant to corrosion, prolonging the life and look of the generator, especially in salt air communities.

How do I choose a generator that works for me?

The surest and most accurate way is to have an electrician apply an amp meter to the circuits and appliances that will be operating with emergency backup power.  As the appliance starts up, measurements should be taken because start up requires the most amount of power.

To eliminate any concerns or problems of this process, match your system to the existing circuits in your electrical panel.  With 8, 10, 12 or 16 circuit, pre-wired systems, we take out any guessing in the sizing.  The wattage rating of the generator and its circuit breakers inside the transfer switch should be reviewed so that startup power requirements are met, for customers concerned about air conditioning.

How long does installation of  an automatic standby generator take?

Because air-cooled models come equipped with an understandable installation manual, it can take as little as 4 hours.  To further simplify installation, they come pre-mounted on a composite pad.  Liquid-cooled units typically require up to 14 hours to install.  Liquid-cooled units must be installed on a stronger mounting surface like concrete because of their extra weight.

Note: Estimates on installation time are based on normal applications.  To run gas conduit or gas piping or to place the unit far from the incoming electrical service or incoming gas, additional time may be required.

Who should I get to install the generator?

Polson Electric, of course, will adhere to local, state and national codes and be able to install the generator efficiently.  Generac recommends the generator be installed by an authorized dealer.  Luckily, the air-cooled systems are manufactured prepackaged, prewired and come with comprehensive installation instructions. 

How much fuel does an automatic standby generator use?



7-16 kW Air-Cooled

20-45 kW Liquid-Cooled

60-150 kW Liquid-Cooled

Natural Gas (cu ft/hr)




LP (cu ft/hr)




Please refer to the individual model's specification sheet for exact figures.

Note: Figures are based on continuous operation at full load. It is unlikely that the generator will run at full load for an extended period, therefore, consumption decreases accordingly. The generator that I've chosen has a 100-amp automatic transfer switch.

What if I have 200-amp service?

Emergency circuits should always be isolated by the emergency load center. An isolated sub-panel helps to prevent overload situations.

Is a 200-amp automatic transfer switch available for the air-cooled models and the 20 kW liquid-cooled model?

No. Because a 200-amp transfer switch is not necessary. The outputs of these generators are safely carried with a 100-amp automatic transfer switch.

Where can I purchase parts?

You can purchase all the parts needed from us, here at Polson Electric.

What is the cost of a service/maintenance contract?

Polson provides products and services at a reasonable rate. Costs are based upon service levels. Cost will also vary based on hourly labor rates in your local area.

What type of oil is recommended?

15W-40 is recommended for all liquid-cooled units. The oil should be a SAE rated high detergent oil that meets API Service Class SF requirements for gasoline engines.

Propane tanks are usually rated by pounds. Is there a conversion that can be applied to the fuel consumption numbers?

Yes. For general conversion, propane weighs 4.24 pounds per gallon. 1 lb. = 8.58 cu. ft. 1 gallon = 36.39 cu. ft.