PERC Offers EcoGen Off-Grid Standby Generator Incentives

EcoGen Standby Generator System

EcoGen 6W Standby Generator for Off-Grid Use

The EcoGen was introduced by Generac Power Systems as the first standby generator designed specifically as a backup source of power for off grid alternative energy systems. Off grid systems generate power using solar panels, wind turbines, or both to charge a bank of batteries. Power from the batteries is converted to AC current using an inverter or is used directly by DC appliances and equipment. When the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine, energy production drops and batteries become depleted. A standby generator provides the necessary energy to recharge batteries.

PERC Incentives

The primary objective of the Propane & Education Research Council is to promote the use of energy efficient propane systems through research, education, and demonstration of propane technology. The Council has provided development incentives to manufacturers and purchase incentives to consumers, businesses, and construction professionals.

As part of their Propane Heat and Power Incentive Program, PERC is offering a 1500 dollar incentive to consumers, businesses, and construction professionals to purchase and install a premium generator set, including the EcoGen six-kilowatt Standby Generator.

EcoGen Standby Generators

Generac introduced the EcoGen as the first standby generator designed and manufactured specifically for use with off-grid alternative energy systems. Most standby generators are sold specifically for use where utility power is available and in use on the property. Many manufacturers void the warranty when their standby generators are used in off-grid applications, but the EcoGen carries a three-year, 2000-hour limited consumer warranty.

With off-grid applications in mind, Generac extended the oil change service period from 200 hours to 500 hours, making the EcoGen one of the few standby units suitable for use in remote locations. Applications include both residential and commercial use for telecommunications, remote lodging, farms and ranches, railroads, parks, and any installation using an alternative energy system that requires a backup to keep batteries charged.

The EcoGen uses propane to power its air-cooled 500cc OHVI engine, designed specifically for use in a standby generator. The oil recovery and circulation system is exclusive to the EcoGen and virtually eliminates oil degradation, extending the maintenance period to five times the industry standard.

Off Grid Energy

EcoGen with Alternative Energy System

EcoGen in a Alternative Energy System

Instead of receiving power from the national power grid, off grid systems generate their own power using a combination of solar panels and wind turbines to generate electricity and feed an inverter/charger which charges storage batteries. Power is converted to AC current by the inverter and supplied to the home, business, or facility through a service panel.

The EcoGen connects directly to the inverter. When storage battery levels near critical levels, the EcoGen starts and charges the batteries. Unlike other off-grid generators that supply DC current, it can also supply electrical power directly to the service panel. The generator is shipped from the factory as a 120-volt generator, but converts easily to a 240-volt generator with a new main breaker.

The EcoGen at Norwall

Norwall PowerSystems offers the EcoGen Standby Generator at more than 900 dollars off the suggested retail price, and with the incentive from the Propane & Education Research Council, buyers can save nearly 2500 dollars.

Available incentives are limited and an application is required. PERC suggests applying before the purchase and understanding the terms. Visit Build With Propane and follow enrollment the instructions. then call Norwall Power Systems for your new EcoGen Propane Standby Generator.

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How Standby Generators Work

The first generators required a team of engineers to keep them working. They kept the steam engines running that provided the mechanical power for the generator, and made constant adjustments to the generator to regulate the power production. As the technology matured, the need for constant supervision gradually declined until generators were able to operate on their own. As cost declined and reliability increased, systems designed to provide backup power were brought to market. They are called Standby Generators because they are always standing by, ready to supply power whenever needed, without operator intervention.


Guardian 20kW Home Backup Generator

Guardian 20kW Home Backup Generator

A standby generator system is permanently installed outside the residence or business and is connected to a long-term supply of fuel to eliminate frequent refueling. Residential and commercial systems usually run on natural gas or LP gas. An automatic transfer switch connects the generator to the building’s electrical system.

When a power outage is detected, the engine starts automatically and turns the power generating unit which is called an alternator. The alternator converts the mechanical energy of the internal combustion engine into electrical energy. After a few seconds, the engine speed and electrical output stabilize and the transfer switch begins supplying power from the generator to the home or business.

Automatic Transfer Switch

Cummins Onan Home Standby Generator

Generator System With Automatic Transfer Switch

The automatic transfer switch makes the generator a permanently installed solution to power outages. Depending on the model, it may have it’s own circuit breakers or control a load center, which may include the main service panel for some models. Some provide power management capabilities for 240-volt, high-current loads.

The transfer switch isolates the standby generator from the utility power lines. When an outage occurs, it automatically disconnects the utility service and connects the generator as soon as it is ready to supply power. A typical switchover takes less than a minute from startup to transfer.

When the utility restores power, the transfer switch disconnects the generator and reconnects the utility supply.

Power Management

When high-voltage devices all try to operate at the same time, the generator may not be able to handle the full load. With a power management option, the high-voltage loads are only allowed to run when the generator can supply them with power. Some homes or businesses have multiple loads that need management while running on standby power, including air conditioners, hot water heaters, and well pumps. With the right power management option, these loads each get their share of power as necessary to keep the appliances operating during an outage.

Generator Controller

At the heart of the generator is the controller. It handles all standby generator functions from start to shutdown, and also monitors the generator for problems. Some models handle the power outage detection, others rely on the transfer switch to detect an outage. In either case, a short delay of a few seconds is allowed to ensure the outage was not momentary. The engine is started and allowed to warm up for about five seconds which also gives the alternator output time to stabilize at full voltage.

After power is restored, the controller runs the engine in a cool-down cycle, usually for about a minute, and then shuts the generator down. To keep the standby generator lubricated and ready to run, the controller will also exercise the generator on a set schedule. It starts the unit, lets it run for a short period, then shuts it down again.

Standby Generator System

Manufacturers design transfer switches and generator controllers to work together as a unit and provide more features than using separately designed and manufactured switches and generators. This eliminates compatibility issues, simplifies installation, and reduces the cost of installation while improving reliability. A standby generator system is often called a ‘Genset’ for generator set. The set includes the generator and the transfer switch, and any optional electrical equipment necessary, such as power management devices.

The modern standby generator system is always ready to supply power during an outage to keep homes safe and businesses operating.

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Residential Power Washers: Exterior Home Cleaning

The new OneWash™ from Generac is first power washer of its kind to feature variable pressure control for a variety of cleaning tasks. The OneWash features the largest, most powerful engine in its class. And our innovative PowerDial™ provides total control at the turn of a dial, so you can easily adjust the intensity of the spray to clean a wide range of surfaces, all with a single, easy-to-use control.

The new OneWash™ from Generac is first power washer of its kind to feature variable pressure control for a variety of cleaning tasks. The OneWash features the largest, most powerful engine in its class. And our innovative PowerDial™ provides total control at the turn of a dial, so you can easily adjust the intensity of the spray to clean a wide range of surfaces, all with a single, easy-to-use control.

No doubt about it, there are a lot of tough cleaning jobs around the outside of your home. From oil stains on the driveway to prepping your deck for a new coat of stain, a power washer from Norwall Power Systems can take the elbow grease out many difficult and time-consuming outdoor cleaning tasks.

Generac OneWash with Variable Pressure from 2000 to 3000 PSI

Generac OneWash with Variable Water Pressure from 2000 to 3000 PSI

Residential gasoline power washers use a pump to increase average home water pressure of 45 PSI to a dirt-blasting 2000 to 3000 PSI. The volume of water is significantly decreased, but the high-pressure spray can remove dirt, mold, and even oil stains from just about any surface.

Cleaning a Deck

After a year or so, the once bright wood of a deck begins to fade. Good maintenance includes yearly cleaning and reapplication of the wood sealer.

Loosen dirt and grime using the yellow 15-degree nozzle and spray the deck surfaces at a 45 degree angle. Apply a detergent made for decks and wood surfaces using a soap dispensing nozzle, and then give the deck a final rinsing with the white 40-degree nozzle. Let the deck dry thoroughly, usually overnight, and apply the stain the next day.

Washing the Car or Boat

Few tools make washing the car or boat as easy as a power washer. Add a brush accessory and the job becomes easier than ever before.

The white 40-degree nozzle is usually fine for most parts of this job. Rinse the entire surface to remove the surface dirt, then switch to a black soap nozzle or a brush to apply the soap. Give your car or boat a final rinse to wash the soap away and its ready for coat of wax.

Tough areas like insect-splattered bumpers and hub caps coated with road grime and brake dust might need a bit of extra oomph provided by a green 25-degree or yellow 15-degree nozzle to blast away the toughest dirt.

Concrete Floors Walks and Drives

The Westinghouse WP2500

Westinghouse Power Washers from 2300 to 3000 PSI

The first time you clean your garage floor with a power washer, you might just declare it the most fun you’ve ever had cleaning anything. And those weeds that perpetually grow between the cracks in your drive or sidewalk-they don’t stand a chance.

Note: Only clean well-cured concrete with a pressure washer and cleaner.

Loosen dirt with the 15-degree nozzle and direct the spray at a 30- to 45-degree angle. Add the detergent next and apply liberally over any oil stains. Be sure to follow the detergent instructions on the bottle and use the soap nozzle to apply. Wash the dirt and oil away with the yellow nozzle. For bad stains, the zero-degree red nozzle might be required. Old stains may need multiple applications of detergent.

Use the red, zero-degree nozzle to dig the dirt out of sidewalk and driveway cracks and take the weeds with them. Fill the cracks with a caulk made for concrete cracks and those weeds will never come back.

Cleaning House Siding

Whether just to clean up the house or prep it for painting, if you’ve ever washed an entire home you know how much work it is. A power washer makes quick work of the job, but doing it right is important.

Never use the red zero-degree nozzle on wood, vinyl, or aluminum as it can damage the siding. Apply detergent with the black nozzle, then wash the siding with a green 25-degree or white 40-degree nozzle. Direct the spray downward at a thirty- to forty-degree angle to prevent pushing water up under the siding.

Caution: Power washers are not for washing windows and may break glass.

Many Uses

Buy a power washer and you’ll put it to use on an endless array of cleaning jobs. They do wonders on BBQ grills, rain gutters, patio furniture, lawn mowers and garden tillers. Trash cans clean up in a breeze and cleaning out the dog kennel won’t get any easier.

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2013 Generac Guardian Product Line Changes

Mobile Link with Generac Guardian Standby Generator

Generac Guardian with Optional Mobile Link – Access your Generator Controller from anywhere

Generac unveiled a number of updates to their Guardian generators in January at the 2013 International Builder’s Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Highlights include the new Evolution Controller and control panel for the highly popular Guardian Series Standby Generators that include new features and new programmable options, additional optional accessories including a web accessible controller dashboard, and an updated power management system. All told, more than 80 new improvements were implemented for faster and easier installations and a more user-friendly product.

Changes were also made to the limited comprehensive consumer warranty, including extending the warranty length to five years, ranking it with the best of the industry leaders.

Evolution Control Panel

Evolution Control Panel

The new Control Panel makes the Evolution Controller even more user friendly than ever before.

The new Evolution control panel is brighter and more user friendly than its predecessor. A color coded membrane keypad with LED back-lit icons provide generator status at a glance. Generator operating mode―Auto-Manual-Off―was previously selected with a rocker switch. Now the mode is chosen by pressing the keypad and an LED indicates the selection.

The familiar two-line display (multi-lingual) display still provides alerts, logs, and reminders with additional information on the battery condition and status. Menus are navigated using the Up, Down, Left, Right, and Enter keys. A handy Escape button returns the user to the menu from any page.

Evolution Controller

The new controller helps homeowners identify possible issues before they turn problematic with six additional alarms to identify battery charger problems, fuse warnings, overload conditions and more.

One very useful feature is the new USB port which allows technicians to update the controller firmware in the field instead of performing a costly replacement.

As with its predecessor the Nexus, the Evolution handles all the functions of the generator including voltage regulation, monitoring and controlling engine speed and generating unit status, utility line monitoring, transfer switch control, and much more.

Power Management

Also updated on the Guardian Series are the power management features of the Smart Switch, the automatic transfer switch packaged with many Guardian Series standby generators.

Generac implements power management with a priority based, load-shedding control system for high-voltage, high-current appliances. The load-shedding controller is located inside the Smart Switch and can handle a total of six loads assigned to priorities one through four. As shipped, the controller will manage two air conditioners. Additional loads require a Power Management Module Starter Kit that includes a transformer and Power Management Module (PMM). The kit allows a third load, and with additional PMMs, can handle a total of four loads in addition to the two air conditioners.

The new power management strategy utilizes low voltage wiring and controls to reduce cost and simplify installation.

Engine Improvements

Guardian standby generators already had the only engine in the industry designed and manufactured specifically for use in a generator. Improvements to the design included modifying the fuel system, implementing a new throttle body, and eliminating the choke.

The changes allow easier starting at any temperature and simplify servicing. Switching between LP Gas and Natural Gas is easier than ever and only requires turning a knob. Installers don’t even need a tool to perform the switch.

Mobile Link

Standby Status

With Mobile Link you can access your Generac Controller using a web-based dashboard, from in your home or half way around the world.

As homeowners spend more time away from home, keeping track becomes more difficult. Mobile Link is an optional accessory that keeps the homeowner in touch. Utilizing the cellular text messaging system, it provides updates and alerts to homeowner cell phones.

The system also allows access to the generator controller through a web-based dashboard via the Standby Status website. Using a web browser on laptop computers, tablets, and smart phones, homeowner access includes viewing reports, scheduling maintenance, and checking standby generator status.

In General

The all weather, corrosion resistant enclosures received their own updates to make it easier to access the unit for servicing and for making fuel connections. Wiring changes make it easier to comply with future electrical code changes. Continued compliance with National Fire Protection Codes allow installation as close as 18 inches to a home.

Generac Guardian Series standby generators include certification and listing by the Southwest Research Institute.

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Pressure Washer Nozzles: Use the Right Tip for the Job

Pressure washers include a set up nozzles that install at the end of the wand or lance. They come in various colors to identify the nozzle’s spray angle. Norwall carries residential, and commercial and industrial pressure washers from Generac and Westinghouse.

The nozzle’s angle determines the spray angle. A narrow angle concentrates more pressure in a small area, while a wide angle spreads the pressure out. Nozzle orifice diameters are matched to the unit’s pump. A nozzle designed for a lower pressure machine can increase  pump pressure on a more powerful model and damage the pump.

Safety First: A pressure washer is not a toy. The spray is potentially dangerous and even light-duty residential pressure washers can inject water directly into the skin, a serious injury. As pressure and volume increases, so does the potential for injury. Always wear safety glasses while using a pressure washer and never point the spray at yourself or another person.

Black Soap Nozzle

The soap nozzle is also called a chemical injector tip. It has a larger orifice that reduces pump pressure. The lower pressure activates the siphon tube, which pulls soap or chemicals into the water stream.

OneWASH 2000-3000PSI Power Washer (2.8 GPM)

The new OneWash™ from Generac. It’s four power washers in one. The OneWash features the largest, most powerful engine in its class.

Lower pressure makes spreading soap or chemicals on the surface easy. Manufacturers supply cleaning solutions for various surfaces and materials in formulations that won’t damage the pump or pressure washer. Using household cleaners that contain bleach, ammonia, or other chemicals may result in damage and expensive repairs. Only use chemicals or soaps made for use in pressure washers, and only on surface types specified on the label. The use of household chemicals may void the unit’s warranty.

Red: Zero Degree

This tip produces a solid stream of water that can damage soft materials such as wood. The pencil-like water stream concentrates all of the water pressure onto a single point.

Uses include removing grass from sidewalk or driveway cracks, cleaning lawnmowers, or removing stains from brick, concrete, or metal. It handles thick mud and makes cleaning rototiller tines a breeze.

Generally not for use on house siding or other easily damaged surfaces. If you could throw a small stone and dent the surface, then avoid using the red tip.

Yellow: Fifteen Degree

The yellow tip is like a chisel, and is sometimes called a chisel tip. When the spray is applied at an angle to the surface, it peels paints, mold, and mildew from the surface much like a paint scraper would. Applying the spray at an angle allows it to get under the paint and break its bond with the underlying surface material.

This tip is good for stripping paint or other finishes or any other tough cleaning job. Avoid using on painted surfaces unless you want to strip the paint. This nozzle is excellent for general cleaning on metal, concrete or masonry surfaces. Use care on wood―the spray could damage it or strip away paint, even if the spray is not applied at an angle.

Green: Twenty-Five Degree

One of the most commonly used cleaning tips, the green tip produces a 25-degree spray that handles most cleaning jobs. After soap is applied, the green tip completes the job by breaking the bond between the dirt and the surface. The wide spray angle makes covering large areas easy and fast.

This tip is excellent for general cleaning. It removes dirt from houses, patios, walkways and other surfaces.

White: Forty Degree

With a forty-degree spray and a slightly larger orifice, this tip produces a lower pressure spray for cleaning cars, fiberglass boats, patio furniture, and rinsing soap from glass and wooden surfaces. It’s a good follow up tip to use after brightening and cleaning your deck.

This tip makes final rinsing a breeze and won’t damage most surfaces. It’s not the best tip for cleaning stubborn stains on concrete or brick, but it will do a great job cleaning dirty wood, vinyl, or aluminum siding.

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Portable Generator Basics

Portable generators supply electrical power wherever it is needed. Construction sites use them to power electric tools and temporary lighting. Small units in campsites power small appliances and festive lights. Homeowners use them for outdoor equipment or backup power during an outage.

Portable Units as small as 450 watts are available and are popular at campgrounds and outdoor events. At the other end of the spectrum are models like the Generac GP17500E, rated for 17.5 kilowatts of continuous power and up to a 26.25 kilowatt surge, suitable for large job sites or keeping the lights on during a power outage.


Generac Portable iX Series iX2000

Tailgate Power with the Generac Portable iX Series iX2000

Small, quiet inverter generators in plastic cases allow single-handed carrying from location to another. They weigh as little as 30 pounds and run for four to six hours on a single tank of gasoline. They are built mainly for consumer use with the largest producing up to 2000 watts.

Larger portable generators are mounted on two-wheeled carts and are moved in fashion similar to a wheelbarrow. They can weigh hundreds of pounds, but are balanced on the wheels so that one person can move them. Rated continuous watts begin at around 2000 and include both consumer and commercial models.

Power Outlets

Portable generators can supply power as 12 volts DC, 120 volts AC, or 240 volts AC, but not all models are capable of supplying all three, and some only provide 120 volts AC.

Duplex (double) outlets are common on portable generators and each one supplies 120 volts. Ground fault protected outlets (GFCI) are a feature on some models and protect the user from electric shocks.

120/240 volt outlets provide a way to connect the generator to a circuit breaker panel with a connection to two, 120-volt terminals, a neutral terminal, and a ground wire. To obtain the full 240 volts, both 120 volt terminals are used. This is exactly how the main service panel in a home works, making it possible to connect the generator to the service panel through a manual transfer switch or interlocked circuit breaker.

Some models have a 12-volt outlet suitable for charging a battery or operating a 12-volt appliance.

Circuit Breakers

All electrical outlets are required to have circuit breaker protection rated at or below the maximum current-carrying capacity of the outlet and outlet wiring. Each outlet or duplex outlet on a generator will have a circuit breaker associated with it.

Main circuit breakers are designed to protect the generator against overload. They will handle a momentary surge that exceeds the breaker rating, but if the high current continues, the breaker trips and all the outlets stop working. On smaller generators of 1800 watts or less, the main circuit breaker sometimes acts as the outlet breaker. Since the outlet is rated at 1800 watts, the main breaker protects the outlet and the generator at the same time.

Electrical Ground

An important safety feature is the portable generator’s electrical ground. It provides a path for electrical current to follow back to the source in the event of a short circuit. A grounded appliance routes power through the easiest path for electricity to follow. If a short circuit occurs, electricity follows the ground instead of passing through a person.

Often, the neutral on a portable generator is bonded (connected) to the frame and to the outlet ground terminals. Current can then flow back to the generator in case of a short. Read your owner’s manual to understand how your ground is connected and if your generator requires removal of the bond to connect it to your home.

Portable generators offer a great source of power for many uses. Advances in technology have increased efficiency, portability, and power output, and made them available at a cost affordable to many consumers in sizes to fit a myriad of needs.

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Ordering Parts: The Importance of Serial and Model Numbers

Have you ever called a dealer or manufacturer of just about anything for a maintenance or repair part? Chances are, the salesperson wanted to know the name of the product, the model number, the serial number and possibly even when and where you bought the item. If you’re not prepared, the process of getting parts becomes frustrating. After all, once an appliance or piece of equipment is installed or in use, retrieving those numbers or remembering where you put the documentation isn’t always easy.

What’s in a Number

Automatic Home Standby Generator

Keep your standby generator model and serial number handy.

Model numbers carry quite a bit of importance and can considerably narrow a parts search. Manufacturers rely on model numbers to identify the parts that were used to build a particular line of product. A model number can also tell the salesperson more information than you might imagine, including a range of dates when the unit may have been manufactured and any problems that occurred with that specific model.

Serial numbers are unique to each unit sold. And they may contain other information besides the units number when it came off the assembly line. By identifying the unit’s number, the computer can often identify the specific parts that were used to build the unit.

Complex items like generators may contain assemblies from other manufacturers, which carry their own model and serial numbers.

Warranty Coverage

If you’ve ever wondered whether or not a repair was covered by the manufacturer warranty, the model and serial number can clear it up in a hurry. The Generac Model 6248 17 kW standby generator was first sold in 2013 and carries a five-year limited consumer warranty. When you call in 2014 with the model number, the salesperson can probably assure you almost immediately—barring limitations—that the unit is covered under the warranty.

As the unit ages however, it becomes even more important to have the model and serial number, along with the date of purchase and date it was put into service.

Modern Parts Search

The days when dealers had to search through microfilm or huge catalogs filled with fine print are gone. Part searches are done through the manufacturers parts database, which is probably linked directly to the manufacturing database, which was assembled from the manufacturers inventory while they were building the models.

Although much faster than searching through thick catalogs or microfilm, searching becomes more specific. Computers are good at looking up a specific model and serial number, but not always perfect when it comes to matching a number that is only close. Having the exact model and serial number eliminates errors and prevents the dreaded search message, “Item Not Found”.

Manufacturers may also change the parts used on the assembly line for various reasons. They might replace a troublesome part with a better one, improve the model’s functionality, or even substitute a part because a supplier went out of business. Two portable generators manufactured several years apart may use a very different parts lists. A complete model number and serial number will define which parts list was used to assemble a particular machine.

Organizing Information

Using computers to keep track of everything helps manufacturing companies build better, more complex machines while keeping the units final cost to the buyer as low and as competitive as possible. The same systems that make these things possible also require accurate information when asked to supply a specific part for a piece of equipment.

Keep appliance documentation in a place you’ll remember and write down the serial and model numbers before you put the documentation away. It is also a good idea to write the purchase date, serial and model numbers, and dealer phone number on a card to keep with your equipment for easy access, such as a note taped to the inside cover.

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Choosing a Home Standby Generator for Emergency Power

The decision to install a standby generator isn’t something to take lightly. Standby generators with installation are a considerable investment, but they offer your home and family a measure of protection and peace of mind that no other appliance can match. Making the right choice includes considering power requirements, fuel use, and power management.

Generator Power

Automatic Home Standby Generator

Kohler Automatic Home Standby Generator

Consider how much power is required by determining what appliances are absolute necessities. Medical equipment should top the list followed closely by the refrigerator, freezer, sump pump, well pump, and the furnace if you live where temperatures drop below freezing. Include at least one lighting and convenience circuit in your list of essential equipment.

Secondary or convenience circuits are next. A kitchen counter-top circuit will let you prepare food using small appliances, and having use of the television or computer will keep you up-to-date on weather and other emergency related news. During a heat wave, a working central air conditioner can make the difference between staying in your home or seeking shelter in a hotel.

Fuel Use

The electrical load determines the amount of fuel consumed. A 20kW air-cooled standby generator consumes about 2 gallons of LP gas per hour at half load to produce 10 kilowatts. That is about 336 gallons per week during an extended outage. By comparison, an 11kW generator uses about 200 gallons of LP to produce 5500 watts for one week.

Determining what circuits are essential will directly affect the amount of fuel used by the generator. A homeowner reliant on LP gas to power a generator should carefully consider how much power the generator will supply to ensure they don’t run out of fuel during an extended outage. A larger tank will extend running times, as will judicious use of power.

Natural gas supplies don’t rely on home-based storage tanks, but using more fuel results in higher fuel costs.

Automatic Transfer Switch

Standby generator manufacturers design and build automatic transfer switches to work with their generator’s controllers, a factor that makes considering the transfer switch just as important as selecting the generator.

Even smaller standby generators can supply power to an entire home if that power is managed properly, and some automatic transfer switches include power management, which in part determines how much power the generator must supply. Transfer switches that include power management capabilities control the use of high-voltage appliances such as central air conditioners, water heaters, and well pumps.

Strategies differ by manufacturer. Some determine the starting requirements of an appliance, then check if the generator load will permit starting before allowing the unit to start. Others monitor the generator load condition and shut off the appliance if it causes an overload.

The right whole house power management strategy can make it possible for a smaller generator to provide a home’s emergency standby power and they make sense when two appliances can share power. For example, two air conditioners can alternate running. AC-1 is off while AC-2 runs, and vice versa.

Selecting a Standby Generator

Automatic Home Standby Generators

Generac Automatic Home Standby Generator

First conduct a power audit of all the circuits in a home to determine where and how much power is used. Decide what circuits are essential during a long-term power outage, and what circuits are merely a convenience. Use a sizing guide for standby generators to determine the kilowatts required by the home, and decide if power management is an option.

Choosing the bare minimum is rarely a good idea. Once the load approaches the generator’s rated continuous power, it doesn’t take much to push it into an overload condition and the unit’s main breaker will open. Plan to leave about 25 percent of the generator’s rated capacity unused, and there will be plenty of power when you need it without worrying.

Deciding which standby generator and automatic transfer switch will protect your home and family isn’t necessarily easy, but taking the time to consider all the factors will help you make the correct decision.

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New Jersey: In the Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

Coastal regions usually garner all the attention before, during, and after a hurricane. When hurricanes like Sandy roll up the coastline and finally turn inland, they bring destruction all along the shore and often for miles inland. Near the time it made landfall, Sandy became an extra-tropical storm, combined with another storm system, and impacted weather and lives all the way to Wisconsin where gale warnings were issued for Lake Michigan.

West Milford, a township in Passaic County New Jersey that covers about 80 square miles of mainly forested land, is about 140 miles straight north of Atlantic City and just 40 miles east of the Long Island Sound. Sandy roared inland with tropical storm force winds and torrential rains, and spawned tornadoes and micro-bursts that flattened acres of forested land.

Wreaking Havoc

Bob MacGregor lives in West Milford on a three acres of property and shared some of his experiences with Super Storm Sandy.

Image showing a shed flattened by a large pine tree

Shed Flattened by a Large Pine Tree

During the night of the 29th of October, Sandy roared through the town like a runaway freight train, stripping roofs, blowing out windows, breaking off branches and re-locating outdoor furniture and decorations. The power of the storm was awe inspiring.

With the wind came a torrential downpour and as the soil lost its ability to grip the shallow roots of pine and ash, the trees began to fall. At first, one or two toppled, then dozens, and then hundreds. In several places, including one stretch of reservoir-owned property bordering the town’s main road, entire thickly-wooded acres were smashed flat as if under the boot of an enraged Titan.

The root ball of a several trees that were uprooted during the storm

Trees Uprooted During the Storm

With the trees went power, hard wired internet, and cable, the lines severed in hundreds of places. The roads themselves were blocked by trees. Emergency crews moved with the aid of teams of chain saw operators who had to cut a path in and another out as more trees fell.

And the town went black. Here and there portable generators sputtered to life as the better prepared citizens initiated their

Piles of uprooted trees litter a previously forested area.

Sandy Smashed Acres of Forests Flat

emergency routines, but generators proved to be thin on the ground. A few lucky ones, those with a clear road to a supplier that was open and had a few generators in stock, were able to power up. But even for them the supply of fuel to run the equipment was problematic and would remain so for weeks as road travel remained extensively curtailed.

With no refrigeration, residents began bagging the contents of their freezers and fridges and storing them in garagesuntil trash collection could be resumed.

Lessons Learned

Image showing a large pine that fell on the home's porch.

When I went outside to see what had bounced off the house I was nearly blown flat. Scared me speechless, to tell the truth.

West Milford’s location is unique within the state of New Jersey, and access is limited to forested county and township roads, which made clearing a path to provide much needed help difficult. Eventually, crews from as far away as Ohio and Virginia arrived to help get the power back on and rebuild the devastated electrical grid throughout the county. Most of the township went dark on the night of 29 October, and it was three weeks before all residents had their power restored.

Trees fell next to, but not on Bob’s house, though he had several near misses. When I went outside to see what had bounced off the house I was nearly blown flat. Scared me speechless, to tell the truth.

Bob also talked about the future and what he and the people of West Milford have learned, in particular about being prepared for disasters of any kind.

Another large pine that fell on Bob's Property and narrowly missed his home.

Chainsaw Work Ahead

Sandy was bad for the Township of West Milford, but even that mighty storm is not the very worst that could happen. Disaster can come from all directions and in a wink of an eye. For many residents of the town it was a teachable moment; preparation is the key. A full tank of gas in the car when one gets home at night and perhaps 10 gallons extra in cans, a supply of foods that do not require extensive preparation or refrigeration, bottled water, and most of all a generator with plenty of fuel on hand.

As the West Milford cleanup continues more then six months after Sandy, people like Bob are getting ready for the next time it happens, with new standby and portable generator installations, stores of food, fuel, and water, and plenty of gas for their chainsaws.

Photos by Bob MacGregor

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Take Action: National Hurricane Preparedness Week

Hurricanes are without any doubt a force of nature to be respected. People living anywhere along North America’s Eastern and Gulf of Mexico coastlines need an emergency plan to deal with the possibility of a hurricane.

The National Hurricane Center tries to give as much advance warning as possible. They hurricanes-6194[1]will issue a hurricane watch when winds of 75 MPH or greater are possible within 48 hours. A hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of a hurricane making landfall, and warns that the arrival of a hurricane is imminent. Forecasters have determined the probable path of the hurricane and are warning residents to take action.

Advance Planning

To survive a hurricane, you should already have a plan in place before a hurricane watch is issued. Know about the hazards a hurricane poses and how they may affect your home and family. The main risks include inland flooding, storm surge, and high winds. Hurricanes can often spawn tornadoes which can cause localized damage and threaten lives, but inland flooding causes more loss of life than the other hazards combined.

Make advance plans to supply yourself with backup electrical power. Standby units work automatically and use your home’s existing natural or propane gas supply. Portable units also provide power, but are connected and started manually, and require regular refueling. Standby generators with automatic transfer switches require installation in advance. Most home owners will want to hire a qualified electrician to do the work.

Make the best use of portable generators by combining them with a manual transfer switch to supply power to your home. Dangerous backfeeding of a home by using a generator connected to a range or dryer outlet is illegal.

Hurricane Watch

When a watch is issued, people living within the watch area should know that hurricane force winds are a possibility within the next two days. Forecasters have not yet narrowed down the hurricane’s path, but it could happen anywhere within the watch area.

Take the first steps toward putting the emergency plan into action. Gas up vehicles and stock supplies of fuel and oil for portable generators. Review evacuation routes in case you have to leave. Check your emergency kit to ensure all needed items are there. Fill your water containers. Close storm shutters and board up windows. Make sure your non-perishable food supply is complete.

Hurricane Warning

Forecasters are fairly certain of a storms track and will issue warnings 36 hours in advance of the cyclone’s expected landfall. Hurricane force winds, storm surge, and inland flooding will occur within the next day and a half.

Residents affected by a warning should keep apprised of evacuation efforts and be ready to leave. Make final preparations and secure your home and shelter. Take your food, water, and emergency kit when you evacuate. Don’t wait until the last minute. Sudden flooding can hamper traffic, and those who wait the longest face the most difficult travel.

If you haven’t done it already, make sure your generator is ready to run. Standby generators run automatically and don’t require user intervention. You can rely on your standby or portable generator to power medical equipment, keep food cold in your refrigerator, and keep your home comfortable.

2013 Atlantic Hurricane Forecast

Long-range forecasters predict above average activity in the Atlantic Basin. They expect to name as many as 18 tropical storms, and nine of those will probably strengthen into hurricanes. Four storms will become major hurricanes in the 3, 4, or 5 category. There is a 72 percent chance that at least one major hurricane will hit the United States coastline in the Gulf of Mexico or anywhere along the East Coast from Florida through Maine.

Don’t wait for forecasters to warn of a tropical cyclone to head your way. Become informed, make a plan, and put that plan into action when the NHC issues watches or warnings.

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