Ask the Plumber: More on standby generators
Q: Like many homeowners in the Northeast, we were affected by the recent storm. While we were lucky and did not get a direct hit, we did lose power for a couple of days. This is the second year in a row we lost power due to a storm and I have decided that I do need to purchase a generator. Before I run out and get a generator off the shelf, can you give me more information on the type of generators that hook up permanently to a home? -- Bob, New England
A: You're doing the right thing by doing your homework before rushing into such an important investment. The type of generator you're referring to is actually called a standby generator, not to be confused with a portable generator. Standby generators are professionally installed and run on natural or propane gas.
When the job is completed, a standby generator is part of a permanently installed system for your home. If power is lost at the street, a transfer switch included with the system automatically starts the generator and safely switches the electrical-power needs of the house over to the standby-generator system.
Since this process is automatic, the only thing you'll experience before electrical power is restored is a brief down period, usually around 10 seconds.
With that in mind, while a standby generator can be a high-end item, all it takes is just a few seconds to see what a "bright" investment it can be!
Master contractor/plumber Ed Del Grande is known internationally as the author of the book "Ed Del Grande's House Call" the host of TV and Internet shows, and a LEED green associate. Visit eddelgrande.com or write firstname.lastname@example.org. Always consult local contractors and codes.