A WONDERFUL PRODUCT
The first thing to know is that you will need an electrical and plumbing permit from your town. Some towns actually require that you provide a property survey before the permit is issued because they want to see the proposed location. In my town, the generator had to be at least 5 feet from any property line. Luckily, I had an old survey kicking around from 15 years ago which the town accepted. I put an "X" on the proposed location and waited two weeks for approval. My Kohler 12RESL arrived by
... read more
truck delivery right on time and the driver wheeled the unit to the end of my driveway. I hired a certified Kohler electrician to do the installation work, and they sent over fours guys who lifted the unit and walked it over to a gravel base that I put down the day before. I used about six bags of pea gravel to create the base. When the Kohler tech opened the box, he told me that I got a fantastic price on my 12RESL generator from Home Depot. He could not, as a dealer, match the price. You should know that model sold by Home Depot differs from the one you would get from your local Kohler Dealer in that the Home Depot model does not come equipped for internet based control. In other words, if you want to be able to control your generator while lying on beach in France, this is not the model for you. Since my budget would now allow for a higher priced unit anyhow - this one was perfect. While I considered the Generac models, I opted for this one because A) it was the top rated model when Consumer Reports tested generators in 2006; B) as an older model, the bugs have been worked out. c) The Kohler units are able to handle larger loads than comparable Generacs due to their ability to provide short term surges in power production when appliances are turned on. I would have had to move up to a 14 KW Generac model to handle my house. The Kohler 12RESL comes with a very nice 100 AMP transfer switch that allows for 12 circuits to be activated in a power outage. Even though my house has a 200 AMP main panel, it's no problem to connect the 100 AMP Kohler panel to the 200 amp main panel using a circuit breaker. I selected 12 circuits that will have my home up and running in an outage. Here's my list: 3 ton Central Air (this uses up 2 of the 12 circuits on the panel because it is a 220 volt application), Washer, Gas Dryer, Gas Range, three kitchen outlets, master bed and bathroom, room, Cable Service, Two TV's, and 2 Refrigerators, dishwasher, and lighting. Before you buy, look at your electrical panel and figure out which circuits you would select. If you absolutely need more than 12 circuits, this is not the generator / transfer switch combination for you. One of the nice features of the transfer switch is that it allows the electrician to set the central Air unit to come one 5 minutes after everything else. This is a great feature because it prevents the generator from having to deal the extraordinary load caused by starting everything at once. The 12RESL is housed in an insulated steel box and it is very quiet when running. As a matter of fact, my wife and I were absolutely shocked by how little noise is produced by this unit. After installation, we tested the unit by shutting off the main breaker. The Kohler started up and we had quiet power in about 8 seconds. While testing the generator, it ran my central air while running two refrigerators, and dehumidifier, lighting and a TV. At my electrician's recommendation, I switched out all of our old fashioned light bulbs for Compact florescent and LED bulbs. I should have done this a long time ago to save electricity, but now it's doubly important. Less wattage consumed by lighting means more generator power for everything else. Here's an important tip: The Kohler transfer switch that comes with this unit does not feature the newest technology called "power shedding." With power shedding, a small computer inside the transfer switch always monitors the load and will automatically shut down circuits that you designate as being less important if too much electricity is being used in the home. If too much of a load is demanded of my unit, the main circuit breaker will trip and the whole house would go dark. We would then shut off a high demand appliance and reset the breaker. The new power shedding technology is great, and Home Depot offers it with some of the Generac units that they sell - at a very good price. If you have a tight budget, you'll have to decide whether you want to place the emphasis on getting a better generator (Kohler) or a more sophisticated transfer switch (Generac). Note that not all of the Generacs come with the power shedding switch. Be careful to read the Home Depot package deal descriptions very carefully. Both the Generac and Kohler units require an oil change after 100 hours (4 days) of continuous operation. If you think you might have an outage longer than that, buy some motor oil and learn how to do an oil change. Based upon my research, the best oil for these units 10W-30 Synthetic Mobil 1 Extended Performance. Whether you buy the Kohler or the Generac, you should buy the optional carburator heater if you live in a place where temperatures can drop below 32 F. If you buy this particular Kohler unit, you need Kohler heater Model GM39564-KP1. Do not buy the Kohler carb heater sold by Home Depot because it will NOT fit the 12RESL model. The Home Depot web site says it will fit, but it won't. You can read my heater review for more details.