Why I upgraded to a standby generator

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After owning a portable generator for twenty years, Charlie Girardi of Atkinson, New Hampshire, has learned a few lessons “about life with a portable.” The main thing that people who buy a portable don’t know, says Girardi, “is that if your outage is longer than a few hours, you’re going to work for the portable about as much as it works for you.”

Youll need a gas station with backup power

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14 kW Kohler home generator installed at the Girardi household.

First there’s the refueling issue. “With the portable, I had to refuel every five hours.” says Girardi. “So that means coming home from work during the day to refuel and setting an alarm for 3:00 a.m., too.

And usually the weather isn’t so great, so you’re probably trying to pour gas in the rain or in the cold.”

“We keep four five-gallon cans of gas on hand,” continues Girardi. “If the outage lasts more than about 24 hours, you’re going to be looking to buy another 20 gallons of gas.

You better live near a gas station that has backup power because a lot of stations will be closed. When you find an open one, be prepared to wait in a long line.

And funny thing: a lot of those people in line are filling up 5-gallon cans! And this will start repeating each day, you know, like the movie “Groundhog Day”?

You just opened an oil change shop

girardi IMG_1914In 2008, an ice storm knocked out power in New Hampshire for eight days. That’s when Girardi says he got “really good” at oil changes. “When you own a portable,” says Girardi, “it’s like you opened your own oil change shop.

There’s the cost of the oil and proper oil disposal, but the biggest issue is just the frequency of the oil changes — every 50 hours. So if you’re running around the clock, that’s an oil change every other day! Four oil changes in eight days!”

Don’t get him wrong, insists Girardi, a portable will run a few key things — the refrigerator, the furnace, the well pump and the garage door — during a four-hour outage.

“The challenge,” says Girardi, “is that many outages are longer. Believe me, when you experience frequent outages that last for days, that portable isn’t the appropriate power solution.”

The most concerning was the fact that their portable generator was very heavy. If Girardi wasn’t home, then his wife would be left sitting in the dark unless there was someone else available to pull it out of the garage for her. “She became a nervous wreck,” says Girardi, “with no telephone, no lights, no water, we made a decision that this is too much aggravation.”

Kohler, fist pumps and high-fives!

girardi IMG_1913A big snowstorm and outage in October of 2011 was the last straw, and Girardi and his wife decided to get a Kohler home generator.

Girardi sums up the advantages pretty succinctly: “Automatic start. Permanently installed. No gas stations. Fewer oil changes. Much, much, much quieter. Whole house power.”

But why a Kohler home generator? “I wanted the best,” says Girardi. “I’m a purchaser for an equipment company, and we sell equipment run by Kohler engines and other engine manufacturers, too. In our experience, the Kohlers are the best and so is the warranty and support.”

But arguably the biggest reason Girardi went with a Kohler home generator is the automatic start and the“clean power” it generates. “One of the installers who offers three other competitive units wouldn’t sell me anything other than the Kohler because of the sensitive electronics I wanted to take care of — especially the microchip that runs our boiler.” Plus, Girardi reports that some of the distributors he talked to seemed more interested in selling the service contract than the unit itself … “and I know how to change oil, that’s for sure!”

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“Teri loves the piece of mind our Kohler generator gives us,” says Girardi.

Girardi ended up going with TMB Electric, an authorized Kohler dealer in nearby Salem, New Hampshire. “Tom Buja, who owns the place, came out to the house,” says Girardi, “and he was more of a practical person.

Most of the other people wanted to sell me a 20kW unit, but I just said, ‘What can I get by with?’ And Tom said, ‘Don’t run your washer and dryer while you’re using the stove and the oven, and a 14kW will be good.’ ”

And good it was. When Superstorm Sandy roared into New England in Oct 2012, “we were watching the Sandy news about outages on television — we’re on satellite so I have it and our TV on a battery backup.

Anyway, all of a sudden the power goes out, and we’re still watching TV. And, no exaggeration, within five seconds we hear the Kohler fire up, and within 10 seconds the whole house comes back on. My wife and I are doing fist pumps and high-fives! With the Kohler, we bought peace of mind.”


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16 Responses to “Why I upgraded to a standby generator”

  1. Generator HPH
    August 1, 2013 at 10:27 am #

    It IS great piece of Mind! & ours is a Super Quiet Series so no one can complain!

  2. Wayne Herman
    January 6, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

    I am located in extreme weather conditions in NW North Dakota. Temps of 30-40 degrees below Zero. My Kohler dealer did not prepare my new 20K RES for my weather conditions. I wanted it installed in a building and he talked me into putting it outside. The Gen did not start 3-4 times when the power was off due to below Zero temps and one time for locked rotor due to snow in the enclosure. He said nothing about installing a fuel regulator heater. Please send me info as to what can be done to improve this installation and info on how the gen can be installed in a building. Thank You

    • Cindy Lee
      January 9, 2014 at 8:39 am #

      Hey Wayne, I passed your message on to the Customer Service team. I’m happy to hear that they were able to reach you. Please let them know if you have anymore questions.


  3. jordananderson
    June 5, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

    will I use it ? also I need a guideline to use perfectly .

    • KOHLER Generators
      KOHLER Generators
      June 8, 2015 at 9:26 am #

      Hi Jordan, We are happy to answer any questions you may have about portable vs. standby generators. In the meantime, click here and scroll down to the “Portable or Home Generators” section. Thanks! -Mallory

  4. mickle clarck
    June 9, 2015 at 3:33 pm #

    Nice post have done by you. I thing portable generators are best than standby, because one can use it anywhere. what do you think?
    Thanks for sharing the informative and helpful post.

  5. Wayne herman
    June 9, 2015 at 6:20 pm #

    My 20K RES will not start in northern North Dakota Winters. I have built a 6×8 foot shed around it with louversfor intake and exhaust . What propane regulator is needed on the propane tank. Sheridan Sheet Metal in Plentywood MT cannot make it work. I am very disappointed .

    • KOHLER Generators
      KOHLER Generators
      June 10, 2015 at 8:38 am #

      Hi Wayne,

      KOHLER residential generators are designed and manufactured to be installed outdoors only. The generator should not be installed indoors for both safety and performance reasons. The generator set requires correct air flow for cooling and combustion and installing it in a shed is a safety issue, as well as a performance issue. It’s also important to ensure that you have all applicable heating accessories installed, which on a 20RES would be a fuel regulator heater and a carburetor heater.

      For further support, please contact your authorized Kohler distributor:

      Total Energy Systems
      14950 Martin Drive
      Eden Prairie MN 55344
      Toll-Free: 866-583-1671
      Fax: 651-925-3184


      • Wayne herman
        June 15, 2015 at 12:05 pm #

        The fuel regulater heater and carb heater were installed. The gen fails to start in 20-30 below temps and when snow had drifted in and blocked the rotor so I built 7 x 8 building around it with fans and lovers and it still will not start for the weekly cycle or power outage. I know of 2 other Kohler Generators that are having the same problems. I tried to call your number on the blog but is very difficult to use so have not successfully completed a call.

        • KOHLER Generators
          KOHLER Generators
          June 15, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

          Hi Wayne,

          If you are having a difficult time completing a call, please e-mail our Customer Service team at generator.feedback@kohler.com and we’ll take it from there.


  6. Melissa G. Butler
    September 24, 2015 at 8:43 pm #

    I am confused in the photo of the Girardi home install of the 14 Kw , you guys say
    three conduits but I only see maybe one & the gas line on the photo of the back
    of the house, are there conduits through the bottom of the generator, the newer
    generators, 2014 -14 kw Resa & 14 Kw RESL & later don’t wire up from the bottom, but from the back, I am interested in this install, how does it work !?
    Sincerely ,
    M.G. Butler

    • Melissa G. Butler
      December 9, 2015 at 11:27 pm #

      STILL Waiting on a reply, especially the one about the three conduits & how that
      one was wired up !!!??? One for the power supply, one for the communicator wire
      & one for the a/c battery charger & that’s not what I am seeing, three months later & no reply, I have $6,232.00 invested with you guys & you can’t give me a reply !!!??? Seriously !!!???

      • KOHLER Generators
        KOHLER Generators
        December 10, 2015 at 8:42 am #

        Hi Melissa,

        We replied to your original comments back in September. See the original thread here.

        The installer must connect AC power for the battery charger, which is built into the controller. Route low-voltage communication leads through separate conduit from the AC power and load leads.

        Unfortunately, we are limited in our capacity to help with wiring questions beyond very basic information, as we are not licensed electricians or certified technicians. Our network of dealers and distributors employ factory-trained technicians that serve as our field technical support. We would encourage you to contact your authorized Kohler distributor for detailed assistance on generator wiring. You can find out who your distributor is by visiting http://kohlerpower.com/industrial/salesservicelocator.htm. Otherwise, if you would like to obtain a copy of an installation manual, please call our customer service team at 1-800-544-2444 from 7 AM – 5 PM CT, M-F, or contact them by email at generator.feedback@kohler.com.

        Low-voltage communication leads should be routed through separate conduit from AC power and load leads. Our residential generators require annual maintenance, which includes changing the oil and checking the oil filter, air filter and spark plugs. While we do encourage customers to utilize one of our certified dealers for this, it is not mandated; any qualified individual may perform the annual maintenance without voiding the warranty. Warranty coverage after 5 years is not available.

        Again, as Kohler does not perform installations directly, we are limited in our capacity to provide specific installation instructions beyond what is listed in our installation manual. Our network of certified Kohler dealers and distributors provide our field technical support, and are there to assist with installation guidance. For detailed installation information, please contact your authorized Kohler distributor. You can find your distributor information by entering your zip code at http://kohlerpower.com/industrial/salesservicelocator.htm.

        • Melissa G. Butler
          December 10, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

          Yes I remember that reply however the picture of the back of that generator on the house you showed only showed two conduits so my question was did this
          make the warranty invalid because they only ran two conduits instead of one,
          so they either ran the a/c battery charger wire through the communicator wire
          conduit or the electrical supply wire conduit !? I’m just saying !!??

  7. Shirley Stejskal
    December 7, 2015 at 10:04 am #

    I was told by a friend that a automatic home generator has something to do with satellites. He had trouble with his unit and he was told it was due to satellite. Is this a true fact? We live in the country and always have trouble with our satellite.
    Thank You

    • KOHLER Generators
      KOHLER Generators
      December 9, 2015 at 9:41 am #

      Hi Shirley,

      Generators are not in any way related to satellites. The generator is connected (hard-wired) to an automatic transfer switch, which monitors utility voltage. When utility voltage drops below an acceptable level, the automatic transfer switch signals the generator to start its engine and begin supplying power to the home via hard-wired cables. There would be interaction with satellites during any part of this process. If a customer is experiencing issues with their KOHLER generator, we would instruct them to contact a certified KOHLER dealer for service, or contact us at 1-800-544-2444 from 7 AM – 5 PM CT, M-F.