Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Winter Storm Preparation

Winter is around the corner, and while the hurricane season is passing by without too many storms, there is still plenty to prepare for.

Early snow falls typically result in very wet & heavy snow, which can be a tremendous burden on whatever it lands on.  Heavy snow means falling limbs and trees, knocked over power lines, and roof & property damage; this doesn’t even include the fun part of clearing all that snow.

Winter storm backout
Winter Storm Damage
One thing that differentiates early winter storms from storms in January or February is how heavy the snow is.  When the temperatures are warmer, snow will melt a little, adding moisture and weight to the flakes.  Colder temperatures produce dryer snow, making it lighter and easier to move.  This was very apparent during the large winter storm that hit the Northeast around Halloween of 2011, which knocked out power to millions.  Not only was there a run on snow blowers, but people had to find backup power during the long & cold cleanup process.

There are a few things you can to to protect your home from early winter storms.  Inspect trees on your property for any potential hazards, such as drooping, dead, or dying trees and limbs.  Use a chainsaw or pole saw to remove any limbs that may pose a threat to your home, garage, shed, etc.  If there are overhead power lines running near or through your property, contact your local utility provider and let them know about anything that could potentially impact the power lines in the event of a storm.  Do not attempt to cut anything near or touching a power line, leave that up to the professional utility crews.

In the short term, many in the midst of a blackout will turn to portable generators.  Since water and electricity don’t mix, using a portable generator in the middle of a storm is an extremely bad idea.  Wait for the storm to pass, then fire that generator up (don’t run it in your garage!)  Conversely, with some planning, you can get an automatic standby generator for your home.  Standby generators are fully enclosed and can be operated in nearly any weather condition.  They will start up automatically within a few seconds of sensing a power outage and run until the utility power is restored.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Choosing a Portable Generator Style

Choosing a portable generator depends on your application.  There are 3 main styles of portable generators - inverter, professional and emergency.  While they can be used interchangeably, it’s best to stick with the style that matches your needs.

Honda EU2000i
Inverter generators are typically quieter than other styles of portable generators due to a unique alternator that produces clean AC power.  This alternator also reduces the size and weight of the generator, and makes them well-suited for recreational use in camping and tailgating settings.  However, they won’t power much during an outage.  They also run at a higher price tag than portable generators with comparable wattage.  The top seller in this category is the Honda EU2000i.

Generac XG8000E
Professional generators are assembled with commercial quality components and are designed to consistently run throughout the workday.  Due to the nature of their use, professional generators feature GFCI outlets to meet OSHA standards, hour meters, and lifting eyes.  These features are not typically found on emergency generators and raise the price tag.  The top seller in this category is the Generac XG8000E.

Generac GP7500E
Emergency or backup generators are designed to be used occasionally during power outages.   They will not hold up to everyday use, but are affordable and durable if used a couple times a year in the event of a blackout.  These generators range from 3000 to 17,500 watts and the price starts at about $300, the most affordable of these three styles.  At the low end of wattage, you’ll be able to power a few household appliances, like a refrigerator or sump pump, as well as keep on a few lights or a TV.  At the high end, you can achieve coverage on most if not all of your home, and the largest ones can even turn over a central A/C unit.  The best seller in this category is the Generac GP7500E.