With Michael Dami, a fully licensed & insured master plumber.
If you’re considering a Kohler home generator system, you naturally have questions. To answer a few of the most frequent installation questions, we spoke with Michael Dami of MPD Plumbing and Heating based in Situate, Mass., just south of Boston.
Q:What questions are most asked by homeowners considering a backup home generator?
Dami: Four or five pretty much cover it: What size do we need? How does the generator get installed? Can I do it myself? What’s it going to cost? And is there a difference between a Kohler and other home generators?
I’ll answer one right now: installing a home generator isn’t a DIY project! Not unless you’re an electrician and a plumber and you know permits and local ordinances like the back of your hand. You really need someone who installs generators every day.
All the other answers are pretty straightforward, especially if you just call your local dealer or experienced installer for a visit to your home. At MPD Plumbing and Heating, it’s fast, free, there’s no obligation, and most importantly, when I’m at your home I can really answer those questions about size and costs fully and correctly. No surprises!
Q: O.K., let’s talk installation. What do you look for during a home visit that determines what you do and how much an installation costs?
Dami: Location. Location. Location. There are two important components: the automatic transfer switch (ATS) and the generator itself. All Kohler home generators need to be connected to an ATS. That’s what detects on outage and turns the generator on. The transfer switch will usually be installed next to your breaker panel — that will monitor the electricity coming from the utility.
But the positioning of your generator will have to do with where the source of fuel is — LP or natural gas — and where the electric meter is. Getting the generator close to one or both of those can really keep installation costs down. Keeping in mind that local ordinances may have different requirements in regards to where you can place the generator or how close it can be to a neighbor’s house.
Q: What if the homeowner wants the generator installed away from the house?
Dami: In the past, generators were considerably louder, so maybe you’d try to get it away from the house. But the newer generators from Kohler are surprisingly quiet, plus they’re housed in a sound-deadened enclosure that’s also resistant to corrosion and tampering.
The enclosure looks good as is, but you can also plant bushes around the enclosure. You just need to give it enough room for the air intake and exhaust. Still want it away from the house? That’s O.K.; it just costs more for separate trenches needed to run fuel and electric out to it. And the gas line will have to be tested and inspected.
Q: What does an install cost?
Dami: Installation costs varies because every situation is different, but for MPD customers we find that a basic installation starts around $2,000. They’re all specific to that particular home, it just depends on the situation. Again, the number one thing that impacts price is to get the generator close to the meter and fuel source.
Q: Do you need level ground?
Dami: Yes and no. If it’s level, great. We won’t have to spend time flattening out the area. And Kohler’s most popular models offer a mounting pad that’s engineered for their generators — it makes for a quick install because you place the generator right on top of the pad and it will hold up very well over the long haul. No need for a concrete pad.
But if you’re on a slope, it’s not a big issue. We just level an area on the slope with a pick-ax and shovels, no need for a backhoe or any big equipment. We make a frame out of pressure-treated wood — 2×10’s — and use stainless steel screws and stakes.
We put in a layer of gravel and then pea gravel on the top. And the generator enclosure on Kohler’s top-selling models already have a built-in base that’s perfect for placing the unit right on the gravel.
Q: And connecting the generator?
Dami: We do everything — from pulling the permits to the final hookups. We do our own gas work and bring in an electrician. Our installation is entirely turn-key, no worries, no coordinating with multiple vendors. We take care of everything. The customer gets a single invoice for the generator, ATS and the installation.
Q: Let’s take care of the last question: Is a Kohler generator different? Better?
Dami: Yes and yes. MPD used to carry generators from another manufacturer, but there were too many problems with the inspectors, with plumbers and with complaints from customers. We switched to being all-Kohler and now everyone is all-happy. My next generator at my own home will be a Kohler. No question about that.
MPD Plumbing and Heating Inc is an experienced installer of Kohler Generators and has been in the plumbing and heating business for over 25 years.
They serve the eastern part of Massachusetts and you can learn more about them and their services here: http://www.mpdplumbing.net/.