Home backup generators may have been considered a niche market a few short years ago, but
as our community continues to jump power hurdles such as epic storms with mass power
outages, global pandemics, war in a critical location for energy production and transfer, and
finally rolling brownouts due to excessive heat and growing grid demand – it would seem the
generator market is here to stay.
With the mad rush to find these elusive generators comes a new set of challenges. Should I
purchase one myself or go through a dealer? Do I call the gas company or an electrician or
both? Can I install it myself? Perhaps most importantly, what happens if something goes wrong
with my new system?
The first step is finding a technician on a manufacturer’s website. These are contractors that
have been trained by the manufacturer to service their units and exercise warranties. For
example, Generac, the most popular home backup brand, has several certifications, such as Air-
cooled and Liquid-cooled technician. If anyone else calls the technical support line including a
system owner, electrician, gas company, handyman, or gifted brother-in-law – they will be
referred to a technician on the company’s website. Put simply, unless the caller can quickly
recite their “Technician ID number”, warranties or tech support issues are not supported or
resolved. This is true of virtually all backup generator manufacturers.
In addition to warranties, scheduled maintenance is required for most generators. To use a
Generac example again, after 25 hours of run time on an air-cooled unit, a maintenance service
is required. This involves an oil change, filters and setting the valve lash on the engine to a
specific tolerance. So, if the system runs for even a single day, a Generac trained technician
needs to put their skills to work on that machine after its “break-in” period so that it’s ready for
the next outage.
Finally, Generac technicians carry a factory-issued parts kit for onsite repairs. These include the
“usual suspects”, required to repair either an air-cooled or liquid-cooled model. As the reader
might guess, they’re only available to Generac-trained technicians. They also carry technical
manuals with all the technical specifications necessary for repairs and have direct phone access
to tech support.
For current or future owners of backup generators, it’s certainly worth a quick search and a
phone call to find a local technician trained on your model and brand.