Richmond VA > Public Utilities > Energy Services Division > Residential Generator

Last Updated: 2010-09-16

Extreme weather, construction, summertime brownouts and many other unforeseen complications can interrupt the electrical service you and your family depend on to continue your daily activities. With a natural gas standby power generator, when electricity is lost — day or night — you can be assured that your home will have all the comfort and convenience you depend on. With many residents increasingly working from home, reliable on-site power generation is an indispensable tool for a home office.

A natural gas standby power generator is permanently installed outdoors, much like an air-conditioning unit. Components of typical standby power system include an automatic transfer switch, generator, battery charger and distribution panel. The transfer switch is the "brain" of your backup power system. It continually monitors the electric power for an interruption. If electric power fails, the transfer switch automatically starts the generator, transfers the electrical load and restores power to your home. When the electrical power resumes, the transfer switch automatically reverses the process — whether you're home or away.

A residential backup generator system can be sized and wired for your home in one of two power distribution scenarios:

1. Essential Loads Power Distribution

This scenario supplies electrical power only to those devices you've pre-selected to receive power during an electrical utility outage or power interruption. Examples of devices and appliances that may be considered essential are: lighting, sump pump, refrigerator/freezer, security system and a garage door opener.

2. Whole House Power Distribution:

This scenario enables you to power all devices in your home with the generator, as if they were using normal electrical utility power.


Natural gas generators cost 40 to 50 percent less per hour to run than gasoline or propane powered models. Natural gas powered generators do not require any fuel to be stored at your home for their operation. Natural gas is supplied to the equipment from the house line that delivers gas to your furnace, water heater and other natural gas appliances. Models are available in a variety of sizes from 5 KW (Kilo-Watt) to 60 KW to match your electrical load.


Automatic start:

Many models offer an option which senses when a failure occurs in your electricity from your electric supplier. The standby unit starts itself and begins giving you electricity in 30 to 60 seconds. It then monitors the electricity from the street and, when it senses that the power is restored, shuts itself off.

Exercise timers

Many units offer timers which run the unit 15 to 30 minutes each week. This keeps the starting battery charged so it will be ready for use during an outage

Weather proof enclosure

The generator sits outside your home in a painted, weather proof enclosure like your air conditioning unit. This cover protects the equipment from rain and snow

Since the generator is installed on a concrete pad outside your home, you always have the option of taking the unit with you if you should move to a new home.

Generator engines are manufactured by companies such as Briggs & Stratton, Kohler, Cummins, Onan and Perkins. These are the same reliable engines which power garden tractors and other devices.

The units require a minimum of maintenance. The oil, oil filter and air filter should only require changing once per year.

These units can provide you with 120 volt and 240 volt service at 30 amps, 60 amps, 125 amps or more and the natural gas consumption for the generator varies from 110 cubic feet per hour to 475 cubic feet per hour.

Please see the City of Richmond's Charge Policy for New Residential/Commercial Gas Service Lines

Contact Information:

Energy Services Division
Public Utilities
City of Richmond
730 E. Broad St., 7th Floor
Richmond, VA
23219 USA
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Phone: (804)646-8544
Fax: (804)646-3199

For Billing questions or to turn on/off, transfer gas or water services call Custormer Care Center at (804)646-4646 or email

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