Gasoline Generators — the New Necessity: Power Loss Concerns Mandate Gas Generator Usage – Sept. 1999
— Westfield: Regular electrical power outages — for some, almost routine power outages — as well as concerns about uninterrupted electrical supply due to the Y2K conundrum have caused a tremendous surge in the demand for gasoline-powered Generators around the world.
“It has been fairly common,” says Keith Petersen of The Eardly T. Petersen Company in Westfield, “for us to have historically received inquiries for gas generators for residential use for South American and European countries. The demand for these generators in this country have always been more for commercial and contractor use.”
“Now, however,” continues Petersen, “the overwhelming demand we see here in the USA is for residential use. People have experienced power outages due to storms and simple, re-occurring power problems in their neighborhoods, and have found that to be without electrical power is a hardship. The simple things such as not having lights are more a nuisance than anything else; the more important issues deal with not being able to run a necessary sump pump in the finished basement, or not being able to power the refrigerator or freezer to adequately preserve the food. Then, there’s always the “biggie” of wondering whether the power is going to go out in the dead of winter and not being able to heat the house, etc., in which case the pipes might freeze and burst.”
“Gasoline-powered generators,” states Mr. Petersen, “provide the solution to all these problems. A generator is kept for emergency situations and, when the power goes out, is available to power lights, household appliances including refrigerators and freezers, sump pumps and furnaces. What could be a major expense and headache if, for example, the sump pump could not run and a finished basement floods in a storm, can usually be averted by simply running the generator and supplying the electricity to run the pump.”
“Generators come in different sizes made by a variety of manufacturers,” says Mr. Petersen. “Typically, the most immediate need is to confirm the quality of the generator, as a generator that is hard to start or will not run when needed can result, to say the least, in considerable frustration. Then, there are noise issues, maintenance considerations and run times — i.e., how long will the generator run before it needs to be refilled with gas. The best generators, therefore, such as Honda, use overhead valve (OHV) engines, as they use considerably less gas than standard engines. Lastly, a good-quality generator — for home use — will probably last indefinitely. While a quality generator like this absolutely represents a higher initial investment, the pay-off is in reliability and longevity.”
Mr. Petersen states that, after a good-quality brand generator is selected, the next requirement when considering the purchase of a gas generator is to determine the needed size. “Generators,” declares Mr. Petersen, “are usually selected based upon the electricity needed to operate various electricity-using items, measured in wattage. For example, a typical sump pump might have an 800 watt motor. However, because the motor is an induction motor, it will require as much as 1800 watts of electricity to get it up and running when it first starts — something called the “power surge”. If a 1000 watt generator was purchased to power the sump pump, the sump pump cannot start.”
“As a result,” continues Petersen, “the average generator used today for the home is 2500 watts to 5000 watts, with most purchases we see being 5000 watts. This gives “elbow room” to assure adequate electricity to run a variety of electricity-using appliances at the same time. If a smaller generator is used, the need is to then run appliances sequentially rather than simultaneously — i.e., turn off the refrigerator, run the sump pump for a while, turn on the freezer and run it for a while, etc.”
“The easiest way to operate a generator,” says Mr. Petersen, “is to have an electrician install a transfer switch. This enables the generator to be plugged into an electrical box in or outside the house (gas generators must be run outside due to exhaust fume considerations), and certain electrical circuits in the house are then powered so that the homeowner can use appliances as usual. If this is not done, the need, then, is to run extension cords into the house to different appliances. A transfer switch handles considerations such as the electrical power being restored by the utility company at the same time a generator is supplying power in the house. This prevents any electrical conflicts.”
“The last storm — Floyd — in this area has dramatically highlighted the need for the homeowner to have backup power. If the executives in the power industry have generators already installed in their homes, the handwriting is on the wall. It has become less a question of “Will I need emergency backup power?” than “When will I need emergency backup power?” Another, parallel concern, especially for homeowners in areas where the water table is already high, is ownership of a gasoline- powered pump. A good pump such as Honda makes will remove 50 — 100 — 200 gallons per minute (GPM) of water from a flooded basement, and can be a real life-saver. The same quality considerations that apply for gas generators apply for gasoline- powered pumps.”
“One additional “word to the wise”,” concludes Mr. Petersen, “is that there has been a severe generator shortage in this country for most of this year. While it has eased at the present, we urge anyone considering a generator purchase to act as soon as possible; otherwise, they will likely find that they cannot obtain a generator in a timely way. Honda makes the premium generator line in this industry, and we are constantly being short-shipped Honda generators as demand issues curtail complete and adequate supply.”
For questions on generators or pumps, please contact The Eardly T. Petersen Company, 224 Elmer St. in Westfield at 908-232-5723, fax 908-232-8761, e-mail at email@example.com, or, vist them on the web at www.etpetersen.com.