With less than a month left in the 2021 hurricane season, homeowners are counting down the days so they can stop thinking about evacuation plans, water supplies and generators. But if the past few years have taught us anything, this hurricane season isn’t the only time we need a backup power source.
Anyone who has experienced the effects of a blackout, as many have done after Hurricane Ida and his predecessors recently, would likely consider purchasing equipment to minimize damage — and sweat —. New Orleans residents are increasingly asking, “Should I invest in an all-home generator?”
New Orleans talent agent Victor Schmidt and his wife Robin, a realtor, installed a new generator earlier this year to replace the one that was included in the construction of their home a decade ago. The Generac 18 kW did well during the Ida, starting automatically once the power was cut off and running much quieter than the first generator.
The Schmitz family’s initial reason for buying a generator was hurricane season, but Victor Schmidt added: “The electricity goes out all the time, and you don’t know how long it’s going to go off. Everything stops. Strong winds and lightning cause outages that can last from a few hours to a day and a half. It really is. uncomfortable “.
The choice of generator to buy depends on your budget and needs. Metairie electrician Troy Mainza of Maenza Electric said the question often asked by those considering a generator is, “How much will this cost?”
The homes where generators have been installed are existing medium-sized homes and not new buildings. Homeowners he works with generally choose Generac brand generators in the 20-22 kW range. He said the cost of equipment and installation ranged from $8,000 to $10,000.
Lake View residents Fran and Bob Simon installed their own generator after living in their current home for five years. “We consider our house our forever home, and since storms are more frequent and intensify rapidly due to global climate change, we feel it is a worthwhile investment. As we and our pets get older, the idea of evacuating every time a hurricane approaches,” said Fran Simon from New Orleans is a horrible idea.”
She said their decision to purchase the Generac 24kW whole house system was based on “capacity, reliability (serviceability) and reputation.” They discovered during Ida that the unit they purchased was more than enough to run their entire home, including the home’s air conditioners, the garage, two refrigerators, and charging for two electric cars.
When deciding what kind of generator to buy—a gasoline-powered or a natural gas-powered generator—David LaVie of David LaVie’s Air Conditioning and Electrical noted, “The difference is in (the need to find) fuel after a storm or running natural gas all the time without no effort.”
Mainza added that placement should be some distance from the building and away from windows and vents. Works with a surveyor, who surveys the property to ensure proper placement. Natural gas generators will also require hiring a plumber.
The Simons noted, “Plan the location of the unit along with your landscaping. After running the generator continuously for a week, a shrub and several plants that were too close to the unit were burned!”
Chris Adams, of C. Adams Construction in Belle Chasse, is seeing an increase in new construction with generators installed from the start. “We have installed 20KW Briggs & Stratton in our 4,000 to 5,000 (square-foot) homes.”
Generac, Briggs & Stratton, as well as other manufacturers, offer calculators on their websites that allow customers to enter home size and power needs to choose the right size for a whole home generator. But homeowners caution that you can’t fully manage your home as you would with regular power.
“The air conditioner pulls a ton. The dryer pulls a lot,” said Victor Schmidt. He suggests using only the essentials during a power outage, including shutting down the pool and trying to consolidate your use into one floor if your home is multi-storey.
Mainza agreed, saying that the TV, dishwasher, washer/dryer, oven, and air conditioner shouldn’t all be running at the same time, if they run on electricity.
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So is the generator a worthwhile long-term purchase? Actor and media celebrity John McConnell would say so. “My neighbor’s palm tree kept hitting the transformer and exploding energy, nine times in six months.”
Fifteen years ago, he installed a single-phase natural gas generator with a capacity of 20 kilowatts. And still strong.
While some people might consider the initial expense a good reason to avoid buying a generator, Robin Schmidt noted, “It’s ultimately worth it because hotels, travel, and eating out are expensive. For example, when Hurricane Ida hit, we stayed. Our gas bill was About $400 higher over the 12 days we ran our home natural gas generator.
“Compare this to staying in a hotel for 12 days, and we saved over $1,000 on those expenses and one accident.”
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Simons’ generator came on in 10-15 seconds after the power was cut off during Ida. “It turned on automatically when the neighborhood power went out, and worked continuously for eight days and nights,” except when it was turned off to check or add oil.
Knowing how to care for and use your generator properly is essential. When generators fail, Mainza said it’s usually because the owner failed to properly maintain equipment, including something as simple as adding oil.
McConnell advised obtaining a service contract. “Let the professional show you what you can do and what you should never do. Take notes and follow them exactly. Don’t be deceived. You can seriously hurt yourself, but the transfer workers trying to regain strength.”
Robin Schmidt echoed it. “You want to make sure you have a service plan and extra supplies like oil, oil filters, and air filters.” Her husband pointed to the need for regular tests – automatic on many of the home’s generators – as well as semi-annual maintenance checks and an oil and battery check.
In the wake of prolonged power outages from Hurricane Ida, boil-off guidelines and internet outages, one common refrain from Jefferson Parish was…
If you have made the decision to buy, do so now. Fran Simon said, “Plan for the future. We ordered the generator in May last year, it was delivered in October, and the delivery time is likely to be longer now.
“Be aware that the installation (running the gas line to the unit) will likely require an installer to excavate your yard.”
LaVie added, “Anytime is a good time. Most manufacturers are running a few months when generators are delivered right now. So plan ahead if you’re trying to get one before the next hurricane season.”
Are there any downsides to owning a generator? “Your friends want to come after the blackouts and they won’t leave,” Adams said.
Categories: Generac, Briggs & Stratton, Craftsman, Honda, Westinghouse, and Duromax are all highly rated manufacturers of whole house (also called “backup”) generators.
whole house: The standby generator is the backbone, and it is considered as the generator for the whole house. It generates more than 10,000 watts and has a starting price of $5,000. They are installed permanently, and are connected to the electrical panel of the house for backup power. When an outage occurs, an automatic transfer switch operates the generator, which can be run on natural gas or propane. Adams recommends natural gas.
smart technology: The latest versions include smart home technology, allowing a homeowner to check in or even start a generator even if they are away from home. According to techmoran.com, current generators include wireless monitoring that sends messages to your phone or laptop, letting you make sure they’re working.
Smart Distribution: Advanced power management systems distribute power more efficiently to devices as needed, rather than distributing them all equally. Sensing carbon monoxide will shut down the generator if gases are detected.
Value Added: A generator will increase the value of your home when you’re ready to sell, according to Remodeling magazine. For example, a $12,860 generator increases its resale value by $6,940.