Both whole-house and portable generator sales are spiking after the major storm on June 30 left residents without power for a week.
More homeowners are considering purchasing whole-house generators — another after-effect of the derecho that swept through Northern Virginia at the end of June, leaving hundreds of thousands without power for days.
Benfield Electric in Manassas has fielded an “amazing number” of calls in the past week both from homeowners who have generators in need of maintenance and from homeowners who want generators installed as quickly as possible.
In some ways, generators are like cars, according to Benfield Electric’s David Delorge. They need maintenance—including oil changes, spark plugs and cleaning—and most generators automatically turn on once a month as an automatic check to ensure things are running properly.
Too frequently, when a generator breaks down or isn’t maintained, homeowners don’t realize it until a derecho, blizzard or other major natural disaster hits, Delorge said.
Benfield Electric has fielded hundreds of calls from distressed homeowners with no power and broken generators.
The rest of the calls they have received are from homeowners who want a generator installed instantly.
Here’s where whole-house generators are not like cars, Delorge said: “It’s not like you can just buy one, bring it home, and set it up in the backyard.” In most areas, homeowners must obtain permits from the county to install a whole-house generator, which can take a week or longer, and generators should be installed by a licensed professional.
Things to Know Before You Buy
The size of the generator a homeowner buys should be based on the amount of electricity they want to use. A generator that can power the refrigerator and a few lights will be smaller – and less expensive – than a generator designed to run the refrigerator, lights, air conditioning and everything else.
Whole-huose generators usually range in size from 7K to 25K (kilowatts) and range in price from a few thousand dollars to more than $10,000.
The single most important thing Delorge said he wants people to know: “They really need to know that they need to maintain their generator.”
Whole-House versus Portable Generators
A number of people did pick up small, portable generators from hardware stores throughout the region after the derecho. Multiple news outlets across the derecho-hit states of Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and elsewhere reported portable generators were sold out in most locations.
Unlike whole-house generators, portable generators are often less expensive and are designed to be set up quickly. They are not designed to operate a whole house, but may do well enough to keep food relatively cold in a powerless refrigerator. One major drawback: They’re really loud.
Note:the news is from the Internet.