Most commonly asked questions about automatic standby generators:

Q: How long has Northshore Power Electric Co. been in business, and what are your credentials?

A: We’ve been in business for over 25 years—since 1985. The owner attended Chicago’s Coyne American Electrical Institute, one of the oldest and most respected electrical schools in the United States. He graduated in 1977 as an honor student with a 95-point average. After serving in apprenticeship for 4 years, he worked at several other companies before deciding that it was time to start his own business—now Northshore Power Electric.

Q: Aren’t all generators the same?

A: Absolutely not! If they were, they would all cost the same. Unfortunately, there are some dealers who would like you to believe all generators are the same. They do this so that they can push one brand more than the others—selling you the less expensive product, so that they can sell more. Our approach is different: Give people a choice of different products, prices, and quality levels. As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. We believe that this is true in most cases.

Q: Does Northshore Power Electric charge for estimates?

A: No! We will never charge you for an estimate. Be wary of those who do.
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Q: Why are your prices more reasonable than those of other companies?

A: Simple. Our main business focus is generator sales, service, and installation. Unlike other companies, we’re not looking to make huge profits off the generators themselves. The other reason is that we install substantial numbers of generators and have lots of business connections with vendors, distributors, and manufacturers. This helps us keep prices low for you.

Q: How does a generator work when the power goes out?

A: The transfer switch (or ATS) monitors your electric utility provided 24/7 by ComEd. When the electricity is interrupted in your home, your generator senses this, and it automatically starts up. Within seconds, your generator will come up to proper speed and voltage. Then, the ATS will transfer your house over to the generator’s electrical system. All of this takes place in less than 10 seconds. Your power will be restored, and your life will be back to normal. After the electricity is restored, your generator will run for a few additional minutes—usually 1 to 20 minutes, depending upon the brand of the generator. This is called the cool-down period, after which it turns off automatically.

Q: Where do you install the generator and transfer switch?

A: The generator is usually installed in the back or side yard, usually near the electric meter and gas supply. The transfer switch is usually near the electrical panel. In some situations, if the generator is used to power the whole house, it’s installed outside next to the electric meter.

These are some examples of different locations.


Q: How loud are generators? A: Today’s generators are very quiet. Over the last few years, manufacturers have made tremendous improvements in the noise levels and emissions generators produce. Generator manufacturers are in strict compliance with EPA standards as well as the standards of local municipalities—which usually require a noise level of no higher than 60 to 75 decibels. Also remember that, inside your home, you’ll most likely never even notice that your generator is running. If you would like more information about noise levels, give us a call.

Q: What brands and fuel types of generators do you install? A: Northshore Power Electric offers the largest selection of residential natural gas generators, and for commercial applications we offer diesel, natural gas, propane, and bi-fuel units.

We offer famous brands such as Kohler, Generac, Cummins, Onan, Briggs & Stratton, Caterpillar, Olympian, Winco, Katolite, Baldor, GE, and many others.

Q: Does Northshore Power Electric have 24-hour emergency service and tech support? A: Yes, we do. Just call when you need us. We do not use answering services like others do. We use real experts who can help you.

Q: Why do I need a standby generator? A: This is probably one of the most commonly asked questions. The answer is simple. A generator provides insurance for your home, especially if you have a basement. Let’s face it: When the electricity goes out—and sooner or later, it will—the sump pump in your basement will not work without power. Even if you have a battery back-up sump pump system, it will only last a few hours. Also, your furnace, air conditioner, refrigerator, TV, and all the things we take for granted won’t work.And you may flood your basement, if you want to avoid this mess—the smell, the mildew, the flooding, and the hassle of having a contractor in your home for weeks—a generator is best. Even if you have insurance, most will only cover up to a certain amount, which leaves you with the financial burden of the rest. Some insurance companies no longer offer flood insurance. In many cases, the deductable alone will pay for one of our back-up systems. This is a scenario that we see over and over. The average damage to a finished basement of 1000 square feet is $10,000 to $25,000. If you have insurance, your deductable will be anywhere from $1,000.00 to $1,700, which is a large portion of what you would need for a back-up generator.

Q: Do these generators need service? A: As with any electrical/mechanical machine, they do need periodic service. Northshore Power Electric offers the widest and most comprehensive preventative maintenance programs in the industry. Our 25 years of experience have taught us that there’s no substitute for early detection of mechanical or electrical problems. As with a car, it’s crucial to have a professional in the field service your generator one or two times per year. In some cases, we have corrected problems that would have cost customers hundreds of dollars if the problems had not been caught. We were able to correct these issues at no charge because we were servicing the generators. We advise our customers to have these checks done on a regular basis.

Q: What’s the difference between a portable and an automatic standby generator? A: There is quite a bit of difference. A portable generator must be carried outside from your garage or basement before you can start it—that is, if you are home when the power outage occurs. Then, you must start it by hand by pulling the cord. Once you do that—all in the middle of a storm—you’ll have to find extension cords for each of your items that need power. Also, you’ll need to have a few extra gallons of gasoline on hand at all times, and when the power is restored, you’ll need to undo the whole process. With an automatic standby system, you can just count to 10, and the power will come back on. You don’t even have to lift a finger.

Q: Does Northshore Power Electric service or repair generators that other companies’ installed? Yes, we do. We will service and repair any installed system. We will be more than happy to quote you a repair price or a maintenance plan price if your generator needs repairs.

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