Emergency Generators
Frequently Asked Questions

About Emergency Generator Products

What is the difference between portable and automatic Emergency Generators?
The differences have to do with the steps needed to have emergency power flowing into your house in the event of a power outage. Portable systems are wheeled units that require you to roll the generator outside, start it up, and hook it up to a power inlet box. From there you must go to the transfer switch panel installed near your circuit breakers and switch the power coming into your house from the main line to the generator running outside. After the power from your local utility is restored, you are required to reverse the setup process.

One of the clear advantages with an Automatic Home Generator System is that the unit turns itself on and off automatically without you ever having to leave the safety of your home. Our automatic Home Generator Systems also exercise themselves once a week. You can even set the time when the unit will perform this diagnostics check. The generator will then be ready to run whenever needed.

What size emergency generator do I need to run electric items in my house during a power outage?
Most average homes of 1200 to 3000 sq. ft. can run critical items in the home by using a 5000-7000 watt generator. The most common items that need emergency power during a blackout would be the furnace blower motor, refrigerator freezer, lights, TV, sump pump, and water pumps. Larger Home Generator Systems in the 10-15KW range will quietly supply as much as 18,000 watts of starting power to your home automatically, giving your family the power, freedom & comfort of their usual lifestyle uninterrupted by power failure and the new IntelliGEN series of generators allows you to supply power to both essential items PLUS up to 6 high wattage appliances including 2 central air units for the ultimate in comfort and control.

Can I run a computer or other sensitive electronic equipment off the generator during a power outage?
Yes. The power coming from your generator is just as safe as what you normally have coming out of the wall socket. The spikes or surges that accompany power generation (also known as “harmonic distortion”) are just a normal aspect of electricity. However, when considering sensitive or expensive electronic equipment running off a wall outlet, you should use a good surge protector to guard against small influxes of power.

Does motor starting require a different wattage?
Yes. Induction motors require larger amounts of amperage for initial start-up than when they are running. Some appliances and tools, such as your refrigerator/freezer, furnace fan, air conditioner, electric chain saw, weed trimmer, etc. will require more watts than normal running wattage for motor starting. This must be considered when sizing a generator to meet your needs.

What does a Home Generator System typically cost?
When you choose the safety, reliability and automatic operation of a Home Generator System, there are several items that contribute to the total cost, the cost of the system itself, a transfer switch, and installation charges. Optional maintenance contracts can also add to the cost if you choose one. Costs may vary depending on the size of the unit, transfer switch used, location of installation, and permits required for installation.

How does the Home Generator System work?
At the point of loss of utility power, the system will wait approximately 6 seconds to start (this is to verify that the power is going to stay out). After it has started it will go through a warm up period of 20 seconds. After this time the transfer switch will change over to generator power. The house will remain under generator power for a minimum of 5 minutes, even if the utility power comes back on. After utility has come back on, and the generator has powered up the house for at least 5 minutes, the transfer switch will go back to utility power after 10 seconds. The generator will then run 1 minute to cool down before turning itself off.

Can I run my central air conditioner on the Home Generator System?
Yes. We have devised a transfer switch that will monitor loads on the generator, under emergency power, to determine if there is enough room on the generator to run a central air unit at a 4 ton and newer 5 ton rating or less on our 12 and 15KW Generator Systems. They are called our ACCM transfer switches. They are available in 100 or 200 amp sizes. We also offer a Power Management System to aide in running air conditioning systems.

What is a transfer switch?
A transfer switch is a device that is fed by both utility and generator power. It isolates the two types of power from each other so a back feed does not occur. National Electrical Code requires a device like this if two types of power are going to feed the house.

How do I know what size transfer switch I need?
There are many factors that will determine the size transfer switch needed (size of utility service, appliances needed to run, size of generator, etc.). The transfer switches vary in size from 50, 100 and 200 amps. The 50 amp transfer switch has a sub panel in it capable of connecting to eight circuits. The 100 and 200 amp transfer switches are whole house feed and feed the entire distribution panel. We can recommend which transfer switch will work best with your generator and home.

What is the Power Management System and how can it benefit me?
With our ACCM transfer switch, there must be room on the generator for a central air unit to run. The Power Management System isolates six circuits from your main distribution panel to allow the air conditioner to start when it wants. Basically, the Power Management System makes room on the generator. These would be circuits that you would not mind being turned off for a short period of time while the A/C runs. You can hook these circuits up in priority, 1 is the highest priority and 6 is the lowest.

Can I install the unit myself or does someone else need to?
It is recommended that you have your emergency power generator system (generator and transfer switch) installed by a licensed BSA electrician. Failure to do so could be dangerous for both family members as well as outside repair workers trying to fix downed power lines. In addition, professional installation is required to maintain the warranty. BSA Power Solutions will also make sure that all the necessary permits are pulled to verify an inspector would pass it.

What happens in a typical installation?
A basic installation includes:

  1. Delivery of the system to BSA Power Solutions. Additional charges for drop ship to consumer.
  2. Installation of the 50, 100 or 200 amp transfer switch is then hardwired into your home or business.
  3. The transfer switch is installed within 2 feet of the main distribution panel and 30 feet of the generator inlet box.
  4. Final start up inspection of system and completion of start up form.
  5. Clean-up of installation debris after installation is completed.
  6. Consumer is responsible for making arrangements to provide all necessary gas service and connections.

What does Automatic Voltage Regulation (AVR) do for me?
All Emergency Power Generator Systems feature AVR. AVR maintains a more steady voltage than something that is not regulated. This is especially important for running sensitive electronics such as computers, microwaves, and televisions.

What is the warranty?
The warranties will very depending upon the unit that is purchased. Entry-level systems will carry a 2-year warranty; while more advanced systems carry a 3-year/1500 hour warranty. There is also a fourth year power train warranty with our more advanced units. All you need to do to get qualified for that is send in the installation checklist. The transfer switches carry a standard 3-year warranty.

BSA Power Solutions Generator Trucks

Listed below are some common household appliances and the wattages that they consume. Actual wattages may vary.

Common Household Appliance Wattages

Refrigerator 1,200 W TV Small 150 W
Deep Freezer 1,200 W Electric Water Heater 4,500 W
Microwave… 1,600 W Laser Printer 1,500 W
Clothes Washer 1,500 W TV LCD 45 W
Furnace (Gas) 1,000 W Water Heater (Gas) 0 W
Oven (Electric) 3,500 W Alarm System 50 W
Clothes Dryer 5,500 W Ceiling Fan 900 W
PC Computer 4,500 W Pool Pump 1,500 W
Toaster Oven 1,800 W Hot Tub 2,600 W
Clothes Dryer (gas) 1,200 W Lights (each) 100 W
PC Monitor 400 W Air Conditioner 4,500 W
Large TV 500 W Well Pump (1.5 hp) 1,500 W
Dish Washer 1,500 W Furnace (Electric) 9,000 W
PC Flat panel 40 W

About Maintenance & Use

Do I need to start the generator frequently when it is not being used?
One of the advantages of the 7, 10, 12, and 15KW automatic Home Generator Systems is that they are designed to run once a week for twenty minutes. All you have to do is program it when you want this task to be performed and it will start up automatically. During this time it will not only lubricate the engine, but it will also run a diagnostics check. If there are any problems with this process, an LED display located inside the front access panel will alert you.

How long will a unit run before I have to let it cool down or refill it with fuel?
Another advantage of our Home Generator Systems is that they run on liquid petroleum or natural gas, so they don’t need to be refueled as often, if at all. Additionally, rest periods to allow cooling are not necessary. All Briggs & Stratton Home Generator Systems are air-cooled and do not require you to turn them off after extended run times. However, you will need to turn off the unit before refueling (if running on LP) or when checking the oil levels which should be done on a regular basis during and after extended use (refer to your owners guide for instructions).

Do I have to worry about “back feed” if the generator is running when the power comes back on?
No. All of our transfer switches are designed to keep generator back-feed from occurring. When the contractor installs the transfer switch, it will be connected directly to the utility power. A control board will be able to sense when the utility power has returned to transfer back to utility (it is programmed so the generator powers up the house for a minimum of five minutes). Everything is programmed so that one source of power is broken before another source of power is made.

How often do I have to change the oil?
The engine maintenance manual recommends 50-hour intervals between oil changes and 100-hour intervals for the oil filter. We do require that 5W30 fully synthetic oil be used when doing a change. This will enable the engine to stabilize quicker (it has 20 seconds to do this). All Home Generator Systems are shipped fully lubricated and the engines broken in, no break-in of the engine needs to be performed.

Who do I call if I have any questions or maintenance issues?
We recommend that you first contact BSA Power Solutions. First-hand knowledge of your original system installation qualifies us as the best equipped to field questions and perform any needed maintenance. BSA Power Solutions will offer you a special maintenance agreement once the original system is installed, making any potential mechanical problems less worrisome to the our customers. We are always here to help.

Can I vent exhaust out of an enclosed area?
No. Carbon monoxide gases produced by the engine could be deadly. Briggs & Stratton Power Products are designed to be run outside where there is plenty of ventilation. Never run these units inside a home or enclosed area. Fortunately, all Briggs & Stratton Home Generator Systems are permanently installed outside your home.

Can I run the generator inside my home?
No! A generator has an internal combustion engine and uses gas and oil. The exhaust from running a generator contains lethal carbon monoxide. Therefore, this unit should always be placed in a well ventilated area.