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Living Smart: Home Generators

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By Angie Hicks

generator_portable(MCT)—When extreme weather hits, often one of the first luxuries lost is electrical power. Being without power for even a few hours can be inconvenient. Go without it longer, though, and it could also be very costly and even dangerous—from replacing spoiled food, to the potential for your home flooding without an active sump pump, to losing pets or even human lives if life-sustaining equipment can’t work.

Adding a power generator to your home can provide you with a backup power source that allows you to keep your appliances and electronics running, giving you security and comfort even in the face of severe weather conditions.

“Here in south Florida, the power can be knocked out for a substantially long period of time,” said Brenda Burtch, vice president of Elcon Electric, Inc. in Pompano Beach, Fla. “A couple of years ago, there were several people without power for more than three weeks. With a standby generator, when the power goes out, within 15 seconds the generator kicks on and you’re able to power your home. When everybody else has no power, you can (still) live comfortably. For people with medical issues—a lot of people on oxygen or breathing machines, things like that—it is vital to their existence to be able to have that power.”

Investing in a generator is not something that you can do quickly, so if you live in a power-outage prone area, you need to plan ahead. Standby generators—which automatically kick on when the power goes out—often take weeks to install and include local regulatory steps. If you head to your local hardware store after a heavy storm to buy an emergency portable generator, chances are good you’ll only find empty shelves.

“A lot of times, (customers) don’t realize we can’t just put a generator in the next week,” Burtch says. “We have to go through a permitting process, as well as have everything inspected. So, you’re looking normally at about a six- to eight-week turnaround from the time you sign the contract to when we get it in.”

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