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    Power Up | Summer 2013 Out Here Magazine

    Power Outages are On the Increase - Tractor Supply Co.

    Generators keep you charged during electrical failures

    By Carol Davis

    Photography by Courtesy of Generac

    In 2011, a severe snowstorm knocked out power to David Panzarella's family for six days, forcing the family to find a hotel to accommodate his family and dog. They lost hundreds of dollars' worth of food in their freezer, and didn't have phone service.

    "It was a major disruption to my professional life and my personal life," Panzarella says. "And once Hurricane Sandy hit in this area it was very, very traumatic for everybody. But thanks to the Generac 20 kilowatt generator that we have, you know we barely noticed it."

    In addition to severe weather, power failures are also caused by higher demands on the power grid and aging infrastructure, so it's not a problem that's going away.

    "Power outages occur every day," says Art Aiello, of Generac Power Systems, Inc., a Wisconsin generator manufacturer. "In 2012, there were 10,414 power outages affecting nearly 36 million people, by estimates based on our data."

    Outages are more than a mere inconvenience. They can be life-threatening for those who rely on home medical equipment; they cause property damage from backed-up sump pumps or frozen pipes; and where well pumps are relied upon, a power outage could mean no fresh water for family or livestock.

    The antidote to increasingly common outages is a generator, which comes in two types — portable and home standby. Each type ranges in size and capability.

    PORTABLE GENERATOR

    "If power outages in your area are relatively infrequent, or if you're wanting to back up only essential appliances, the portable generator might be right for you," Aiello says.

    Portable generators run on gasoline or propane gas, produce 2,000 to 17,500 watts and cost approximately $400 to $2,500.

    A portable generator can back up essential appliances through the use of multiple extension cords or an electrician can install a manual transfer switch, which allows portable generator owners to deliver the full power of the generator directly to the home's electrical panel via a single cord.

    This also allows users to back up essential appliances that are hardwired, such as a furnace or well pump.

    HOME STANDBY GENERATOR

    With a standby generator, electricity begins flowing automatically in less than 30 seconds. "The electronics within the generator (will) monitor utility power, so when utility power fails, the generator turns on, gets up to speed, delivers power, and switches everything over from utility to generator power," Aiello says.

    A home standby generator — which was pioneered by Generac — is permanently installed outside your home to automatically deliver standby power until utility power is restored.

    Standby generators run off natural gas or propane gas, produce 6,000 to 20,000 watts and are priced from $1,900 to $4,500 plus the cost of installation through a certified electrician or Generac installer.

    With a standby generator, electricity begins flowing automatically in less than 30 seconds.

    "The electronics within the generator (will) monitor utility power, so when utility power fails, the generator turns on, gets up to speed, delivers power, and switches everything over from utility to generator power," Aiello says.

    Switching back to utility power is just as seamless.

    Standby generators can provide a whole house backup power solution. They are safer and quieter than a portable and don't require frequent refueling. They provide protection 24 hours a day, whether you're home or away.

    It's not a question of if your power will go out, it's a question of when, Aiello says.

    For David Panzarella, having a home standby generator during Hurricane Sandy was money well spent.

    "We have heat. We have air conditioning, we have all of it. The world around us was very chaotic but in our home we felt very safe and secure," he says. "I'd be more than happy to buy it again. You know it's one of the best investments I've ever made in this house."

    Carol Davis is editor of Out Here.