Generate New Business with Standby Generators

Installations can expand your residential plumbing customer base.
Generate New Business with Standby Generators
Ed Del Grande

Interested in HVAC?

Get HVAC articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

HVAC + Get Alerts

If you’ve read some of my past articles for Plumber Magazine, by now you know a common theme I like to share with my fellow plumbers: how to generate new business. The word generate is very appropriate for this article because it’s about offering standby generator installations for your residential customer base.

If you’re not sure about generator installations because you feel it may be “off-brand” for your business, think again. I want to point out that a standby generator is very different from a portable generator. Here are the big differences:

  • Portable generator – Designed to be moved from place to place; great for construction job sites, camping, tailgating and other lighter power needs. Portables can power up individual items like lamps and appliances with extension cords. Also, portable generators are usually powered by gasoline engines and require manual refueling.
  • Standby residential generator – Ideal for powering up a home. Automatically starts up when electrical power is lost and restores power in seconds with the use of an automatic transfer switch. Standbys also power critical hardwired systems like heating, cooling, alarms, well and sump pumps. Standby generators deliver clean power to help protect sensitive electronics. No manual refueling is necessary since most residential generators run on natural gas or propane gas.

So, if pipe fitting is a service your business already provides, then installing natural gas or propane standby generators can offer your company more sales opportunities. The electrical end of the job can be subbed out to your electrical contractors. If you are interested in adding generator system installations, here’s where I recommend you start:

  • First, contact a local standby generator dealer/distributor. Let them know you are a licensed pipe fitter contractor and you are looking to become an installer. Many regional power equipment distributors offer some training and events to educate local contractors on standby generator systems. Local dealers may also have service crews and can be willing to take over the yearly maintenance and initial startup services for the generators you install.
  • Next, hook up with a licensed electrician who is standby generator savvy and easy to work with. Many electricians will offer some sort of partnership where you can do their generator pipe fitting work and in turn they will do your electrical contracting.

Once your local code/install training is completed and you have the needed subcontractors in place, you’re ready to go. Here are the basics:

  • Pull all needed permits and notify your subs about equipment location and job scheduling. Remember, installing a standby generator system is a team effort. The usual install time can take a couple days, and if any trenching is needed, you can use up additional days for digging, inspections and backfilling. Also, plan to install a custom-built base pad or place down a precast concrete pad for the unit to sit on.
  • The actual equipment install starts with the electrician installing the transfer switch along with needed wiring and controls. Then your team can move the generator in place on top of the pad. Electrical connections are then made from the transfer switch to the generator. Pipe fitting is next, to run the gas lines and make the approved natural gas or propane connections.
  • When inspected and approved, the generator system can be started by the service tech and checked for proper operation. Costs for standby generator systems vary depending on the size of the unit, location of the equipment and landscaping. Most standby generator contractors will do a site survey first to lay out the equipment locations according to local codes. This also allows for a more accurate completed project estimate.

Final tip: If you live in colder climates, late spring and summer should be your target dates for installations.

About the Author: Ed Del Grande is a three-time master plumber, GBCI LEED green associate and contractor with licenses in pipe fitting, fire protection and plumbing. He grew up in a family-owned plumbing business, and has 30-plus years of construction experience.

A self-employed contractor and professional comedian, he combined his performing and construction talents to became a pioneer in home-improvement television. Starting on HGTV with shows such as Dream Builders and The Fix, Del Grande helped build the DIY Network and HGTVpro.com with shows such as Warehouse Warriors and Ed The Plumber

For a video companion to this article please visit eddelgrande.com and click the Ed’s Bonus Banner to view the standby generator bonus video below.



Discussion

Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.