What you Need to Know Before Buying a Standby Generator

Q&A with Chris Stiles, President of Total Energy Systems, LLC, An Authorized Kohler Distributor

Although he certainly looks the part, Chris is not your typical company president. He’s a laid back, family man with a laugh that’s larger than life. With Chris’ straight-to-the-point approach, he’s the perfect person to explain exactly what you need to know before buying a standby generator.

Q: How do I know if a standby generator is right for me?
A: If you’re at risk of losing your personal property if the power fails, you’ll want to consider standby power. We’ve had people tell us about terrible losses they’ve gone through. One family came to us after their pipes froze during a winter outage. They had water dripping from the second floor down to the basement. The best time to have a standby generator installed is before something like this happens to you.

Q: How much should I budget for a standby generator?
A: A standby generator  is permanently installed outside your home, like a central air conditioning unit. It’s not a portable or temporary device; it’s an investment that can protect your loved ones and your home in the event of a power outage. Equipment cost depends on the amount of backup power you need. Installation cost varies depending on your situation. A generator, transfer switch, and installation by one of our licensed and certified dealers could likely cost between $5,000 – $10,000 total.

Q: What size generator do I need?
A: Ask yourself how many things you’d like to operate during a power outage. Sizing can vary depending on if you’re looking to back up critical power needs (like your sump pump, fridge, basic lighting, and garage door) or your entire home so that it would function as if there were no power outage. Kohler offers solutions for both scenarios and provides a very useful generator sizing calculator.

Q: What does the installation involve?
A: You’ll want to contact a certified Kohler dealer  to have your generator installed. Your local dealer will go through a site survey and you’ll discuss scenarios for generator placement on your property that are in accordance with your local codes and ordinances. Ideally, you’ll select a spot that’s close to your home’s incoming gas and electric supply. Then, your dealer will level the surface where your generator will be placed. Often, crushed gravel and a pre-fabbed concrete pad, or a concrete slab will be laid prior to installation. Finally, your dealer will install the automatic transfer switch and will connect it to your generator.

Your local Kohler Generators dealer is a great resource to help you find a standby generator that suits your needs, respond to any questions that you might have, and provide you with a quote and further information customized to your situation.

Chris Stiles is president of Total Energy Systems, LLC. Total Energy Systems has been a proven provider of critical power in the Midwest for more than half a century.


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21 Responses to “What you Need to Know Before Buying a Standby Generator”

  1. Jack Sutton
    May 30, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

    I’m very impressed by your products. When will co-gens be economically competitive. I’m anxious to cut the wire and produce my own electric.

    • Danielle Hoff
      May 31, 2012 at 9:59 pm #

      Thanks for your question, Jack. Could you give us a bit more information about what you’re looking for?

  2. Max Stanford
    June 13, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

    We’ve been looking for a generator for our cabin recently and this article really helped a lot, thanks!

  3. Juan Ramón lucero geraldo
    August 2, 2012 at 3:53 am #

    Hola quisiera saber como puedo comprar un generador, yo e instalado algunos generadores de mis clientes pero los han comprado ellos en USA y yo vivo en BAJA CALIFORNIA SUR muy serca de cabo, el total de KW 18.0 ES LO QUE NECESITO por su tiempo gracias.

    • Danielle Hoff
      August 3, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

      Hi Juan, thanks so much for reaching out to us. Your local distributor can help you place the order. You can get in touch with them by entering your location here: http://khlr.co/bWUX. Let me know if you have any trouble reaching someone near you.

  4. correctionsofficer
    September 15, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

    worth the money
    had power outage
    generator came right on without skipping a beat
    check oil and slowly add 5/30 synthetic oil every 24 hours
    preferably during the day so you can see what you are doing
    this is top of the line in generators
    this is the big daddy cadillac
    you will not be disappointed

  5. kaimilla Brown
    November 16, 2012 at 1:25 am #

    Thank you for shring this! This is really very informative. It is really very important that you know first how much power you need for your house before you buy a generator.

  6. Martin Sharp
    February 12, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    The winter storms cause much power outage in NJ. We were able to enjoy life as usual with the Kohler generator. It kicked in within minutes of the loss of power and work well for the 12 hours we were off line. This is one of the best home investments we have ever made.

  7. Martin Sharp
    February 12, 2013 at 11:21 am #

    The winter storms in NJ have been bad. Last fall we installed a Kohler generator. When we lost power the generator just kicked in and gave exceptional service. This was one of the best investments I have made in the house since we built it some years ago.

    • Cindy Lee
      February 12, 2013 at 4:08 pm #

      Hi Martin, we’re very glad to hear that your Kohler generator was able to help you through the storm. I’d love to hear more about your experience if you don’t mind. You can e-mail me at GPGsocialmedia@kohler.com. Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks, Cindy.

  8. Joseph Perry
    February 12, 2013 at 11:38 am #

    I was looking to purchase a 10-12k generator and spent the better part of a year saving up to buy one. I didn’t buy one. It wasn’t easy as I live on SS but I saved up enough to buy the generator but found installation added over 50% to the price with more expenses to come. A larger propane tank would be necessary, Remoning the old one with a crane, as I was told I could nit just jack the old one up put it on rollers and roll it out and that I would either have to dig a ditch for all new lines or pay to have it done. At my age and health level I decided that there’s a good chance I’ll be dead in 2 years. Total price installed would have been over $5500. and taken another 2 years to save up. I bought a 7.5k gas generator for $1000. which may cost $35-40/day to operate and spend an hour running extension cords; but if you figure my time at $25./per hour it’s not bad. With the grid being down anywhere between 10 and 14 days a year. I can eat better.

    • Cindy Lee
      February 13, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

      Hey Joseph, thanks for getting in touch with us. Kohler home generators are permanently installed and customized to fit your home. We’re glad to hear you found a generator to suit your needs. -Cindy

  9. John Knight
    February 12, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

    Very good information but I will contact the local dealer for more information on the installation including:
    >Checking out my HVAC system including Emergency Heating load for load for size calculation and
    >Automatic Transfer Switch
    >LP Gas useage per our, etc.,
    >Recommended local Installation company and,
    >Providing written estimate of total installed cost.

  10. philip
    February 13, 2013 at 12:03 am #

    does kohl er generator have market in Kenya east Africa

    • Cindy Lee
      February 13, 2013 at 9:14 am #

      Hi Philip, SDMO is a partner with Kohler Generators that serves your area. You can contact the regional office using the information below:

      SDMO Industries
      12 Bis Rue De La Villeneuve
      Brest Cedex

      Please let me know if you have any more questions.

  11. hal rubenstein
    September 5, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

    what would be good for you guys to sell would be a generator cover, so we don’t have to shovel the snow off it everytime it snows. maybe a four post removable cover with plywood on top. If you know anybody who does that or if you have them please contact me

    • KOHLER Generators
      KOHLER Generators
      September 9, 2015 at 10:54 am #

      Hi Hal,

      Any type of additional cover could have a negative effect on the fire rating of the unit, thus potentially causing it to invalidate state/local building codes. There can be no combustible materials within 5 feet of most KOHLER residential generators, so anything made of wood cannot be placed near the unit. Additionally, the cover needs to be free of any encumbrances as it is the main service access point to the generator, and needs to be able to be opened immediately in case of an emergency.

      A local dealer or distributor may be able to offer some additional field support on a limited basis.

  12. Stan Dzotepe
    October 7, 2015 at 12:39 pm #

    Do you have an accredited dealer or a Representative in Ghana, West Africa.

    • KOHLER Generators
      KOHLER Generators
      October 9, 2015 at 9:32 am #

      Hi Stan,

      All industrial/residential sales and service in Africa is handled by SDMO. They can refer you to a local dealer.

      SDMO Industries
      12 Bis Rue De La Villeneuve
      Brest Cedex

      If it is for a marine or mobile generator, you can contact our EMEA office to be referred to a dealer.

      Kohler Co., Kohler Power Systems – EMEA & Global Marine
      Kristallaan 1
      NA ZC
      Zevenbergen 4761
      The Netherlands
      Phone: 31 168 33 16 30


    October 7, 2015 at 8:33 pm #


    • KOHLER Generators
      KOHLER Generators
      October 9, 2015 at 10:09 am #

      Hi Taylor,

      Depending upon the fuel source and the alternator configuration (voltage and hertz), the 14RESA generator will output a maximum of 10 – 14 kW. Our recommendation would be to verify your exact power needs with a licensed electrician or a certified KOHLER dealer. If you are only attempting to power one item, you will need to check with the manufacturer of that product to determine what its power needs are, including the starting kW and running kW, which will allow you to determine whether or not 10 kW (the lowest maximum output of the generator at 100% load) is enough to satisfy those needs.

      If you are located in Mexico, please contact Generata for assistance.

      Av. De las Fuentes No. 33. 5to piso
      Col. Lomas de Tecamachalco
      Naucalpan de Juarez 53950
      Estado de Mexico
      Phone: 52-55-5519-0777
      Fax: 52-55-5519-0777

      If you are located in Central or South America, please contact SDMO Florida.

      SDMO Generating Sets Inc.
      3801 Commerce Parkway
      Miramar, FL 33025-USA