2014 Tropical Storm Risk Update: Are You Ready for Hurricane Season?

A hurricane as photographed by a satellite showing rotation and storm bands.

The time to prepare for the 2014 hurricane season is now.

Risk assessment for tropical cyclones during the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season for the North Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea has been updated as of April 7, 2014. Major factors in the assessment include the trade wind forecast and the ocean temperature forecast.

Ocean temperature aids tropical cyclone formation by contributing energy to storms in the form of heat and moisture while trade winds help spin storms into cyclones. This year, a moderate El Nino in mid summer along with cooler than normal late-summer North Atlantic Ocean temperatures are expected to somewhat moderate the hurricane season that begins June first and lasts until November 30.

For comparison, annual risks are based on a 64-year average. For 2014, there is a 21 percent chance the season will be more active than usual, a 32 percent chance of average activity, and a 47 percent chance the season will be somewhat less active.

Researchers and forecasters are quick to point out that long-range forecasting is not an exact science, and that forecasts made weeks and months in advance are not always accurate predictors, and the Tropical Storm Risk assessment will be updated on May 27th.

2014 Storms

Chart showing wind speed tropical depressions, storms, and hurricanes.

Saffir Simpson Scale

In the 2014 hurricane season, forecasters are expecting the formation of 12 tropical cyclones which includes seven (±3) tropical storms, three (±2) hurricanes, and two (±2) intense hurricanes. Some of those storms will almost certainly make landfall in the United States, the Caribbean Islands, Mexico, and the Lessor Antilles Islands.

The United States should expect one to three hurricanes and three to five tropical storms to make landfall this hurricane season. The ten year average is for three tropical storms and two hurricanes.

Prepare Now

Photographer Jim Occi captured these photos of gas lines in Cranford on Thursday following Hurricane Sandy.

Photographer Jim Occi captured these photos of gas lines in Cranford on Thursday following Hurricane Sandy.

By the time a tropical storm or hurricane is predicted to make landfall, the time for advance preparation has already passed. Stores will quickly run out of supplies and when evacuations are announced, the roads will be jammed with traffic.

If you live on the coast or in a low-lying area near the coast, be prepared by knowing your evacuation routes and determining where you will go in advance. When the time comes to leave, don’t hesitate. Grab your ready bag and your luggage and leave at once. Hotels and motels in destination areas will sell out quickly.

Those living away from the coast should be prepared with non-perishable food and water, and other supplies. Each person needs a minimum of one gallon of drinking water per day, and another gallon for personal hygiene.


Ocean City, N.J., Nov. 2, 2012 -- Linemen from Alabama Power and other crews form around the country have been working tirelessly to restore power to the hurricane-ravaged New Jersey shore. At the height of the storm, 2.5 million people were without power. Outages are down to about 1.7 million today. Photo by Liz Roll/FEMA

Photo by Liz Roll/FEMA

Tropical storms and hurricanes can destroy the local electrical distribution grid, and it can take weeks for crews to restore all utility customers. Homes equipped with a standby generator can keep the power on during extended outages. Portable generator owners are also equipped for long-term outages, but may have trouble finding fuel as gas stations run out of gas or are unable to sell the fuel because they don’t have electricity either.

It takes a fair amount of time and planning to install a standby generator. You won’t visit the local home center, buy one and have it running the next day. The project requires building permits, inspections, and the skills a qualified electrician and possibly a plumber.

Are you ready for hurricane season. It’s just six weeks away. Plan now and be prepared.

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Cummins Power Generation Standby Generators for Homes and Businesses

The Cummins Onan RS20 Standby Generator shown with automatic transfer switch.

Cummins Onan 20kW RS20 with ATS

The Cummins Power Generation line of standby generators at Norwall Power Systems offers 20-kilowatt and 13-kilowatt air-cooled models in various packages. Liquid-cooled models range in capacity from 20 to 60 kilowatts, with three-phase configurations available on some models.

Design considerations include appealing weather and corrosion-resistant enclosures, operating sound levels at or below those of most central air conditioning units, and various automatic transfer switch options.

Cummins Onan standby generator systems provide backup electrical power during an outage automatically to protect your home and family, even when you are not present.

Air-Cooled Standby

The Cummins Onan standby air-cooled generator packages include the RS20 and RS13 with options for 100- and 200-amp automatic transfer switches, wiring harnesses, and cold weather packages. At normal load conditions, the 62dB noise level is 10 percent quieter than the average 3-ton central-air conditioner, allowing it to easily fit into any neighborhood environment.

The in-home display makes control easy by putting control inside your home. No need to go outside in a storm or at night to check the generator.

The in-home display brings controls inside your home. No need to go outside in a storm or at night to check the generator.

All packages include the remote display which allows homeowners to view generator status without going outdoors. The remote display allows remote stopping and starting of the generator, setting exercise periods, configuration of the automatic transfer switch, fault and event display, service/maintenance reminders, and current load conditions to allow the homeowner to better manage the electrical load. The in-home display also allows email notification and Internet monitoring.

The remote display replaces the generator’s controller panel, an important consideration if technicians or maintenance personnel need access to the controller when the homeowner is away since they need access to the remote display.

The service-entrance-ready transfer switches are 100 or 200 amp with NEMA 3R enclosures suitable for indoor or outdoor installation. These ATS units include a 2-amp battery charger and are capable of managing non-essential loads (requires installation of optional contactor relays) to ensure an continuous supply of power.

RS20 Air Cooled

With up to 20 kilowatts of power, these standby generators can supply the average home with enough power that the homeowner will barely notice the outage. The generators operate on either Natural Gas or LP Gas and are easily configurable for either fuel during installation.

The RS20 air-cooled generators are US EPA and CARB emissions certified for sale in all 50 states. Generators and automatic transfer switches are UL2200 listed and CSA certified to protect your home and family. A molded polymer base and available wiring harnesses (included in some packages) simplify installation.

RS13 Air Cooled

Cummins Onan RS13 air-cooled standby generator

The RS13 Cummins Onan Standby Generator

The RS13 standby generators provide plenty of backup power for many homes and can start a 4-ton central air unit, even when the generator is already near full load.

Cummins Onan manufactures their RS13 standby generators as either LP units or NG units. These standby packages include generator-only models and bundles of different configurations with automatic transfer switches, cold-weather packages, and wiring harnesses. All RS13 packages include the remote display which also allows Internet monitoring and email notifications when installed inside the home.

US EPA and CARB emissions certification make the RS13 available in all 50 states. UL2200 listing for RS13A models, and CSA certification for RS13AC models.

Liquid Cooled Standby Generators

Liquid cooled Cummins Onan 20 kilowatt.

Cummins Onan RS20L

Cummins Onan liquid-cooled generators offer greater reliability for emergency backup power as residential or commercial generators. They have automotive style engines with a radiator, fan, and coolant to keep the engine cool, even in extreme heat.

The RS20L provides 20 kilowatts of power on LP Gas or Natural Gas. Two packages include either the 200-amp or 100-amp automatic transfer switch, coolant heater to improve cold weather starting and performance, fully automatic operation, and a 66dB sound level at full load.

Quiet Connect or Power Connect by Cummins Onan

Quiet Connect by Cummins Onan

The Quiet Connect Series of generators includes models ranging from 22 kilowatts to 40 kilowatts. They feature reliable 4-cylinder, 2.4 liter engines operating at 1800 RPM and are available in either 240-volt single phase or 208-volt three phase. Field-selectable LP Gas or Natural Gas operation.


Power Connect Series standby generators range in capacity from 30 kilowatts to 60 kilowatts and are easily configured in the field to run on Natural Gas or LP Gas. The 2.4 liter engines run at 3600 RPM. These generators provide either 120/240-volt single phase or 120/208-volt three phase current.

The Power Connect Standby Generator with Access Panel Removed.

The Power Connect with Access Panel Removed

Both the Power Connect and the Quiet Connect generators offer extreme cold-weather operation with reliable starting down to minus 40 degrees. They are NFPA 110 capable with the correct installation and configuration.

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Power Outage Frequency: How Reliable is the Power Grid?

Transmission tower supporting high-voltage electrical transmission cables.

High-Voltage Transmission Towers Support Cables that Carry Electricity Across the Continent’s Electrical Grid

Even though the United States is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, the nation’s power grid is based on technology and equipment from the 1960s and 1970s. It’s no surprise therefore, that a 2012 study funded by the Department of Energy at University of California’s Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory found that the reported frequency and duration of power outages has been increasing at the rate of two percent every year.

In 2010, a Minnesota University study revealed that in the years 1991 to 1995, there were 41 non-disaster related outages affecting 50,000 or more customers. From 2001 to 2005, that number rose to 92, an increase of 124 percent.

And in 2006 alone, there were 36 such outages.

Best – Worst States

If you live in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, North or South Dakota, Nebraska, or Kansas, chances are you’re less likely to endure a protracted power outage. Based on the number of utility customers and the length of widespread outages, the average consumer experiences less than two hours of service interruption per year, according to a 2008 study.

Data from the same study shows that residents of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey can expect an average of four hours of service interruption every year.

Electric utility reliability in other states falls somewhere between these regions. The same study compared the United States to Japan where the interruptions average just 4 minutes per year, per consumer.

It bears repeating that reliability isn’t getting better, it is getting worse at the rate of two percent every year, and this study is already six years old. Equipment breakdowns in the nation’s aging electricity transmission and distribution system are responsible for more than 24 percent of the country’s power outages.

Grid Blackouts

The power grid in North America is comprised of several key components. Generating stations produce electrical power which is stepped up to as much as 765,000 volts by transformers for long-distance transmission. Transmission lines supported by steel towers carry the high voltage to sub-transmission stations where it is stepped down to 26,000 or 69,000 volts for local distribution. Substations reduce the voltage again to 13,000 volts. Local transformers reduce the power one more time for use in homes, businesses, industry, and other facilities.

Any component in the system that fails can cause a widespread outage that lasts for days and affects thousands of utility customers. And because the entire grid in North America is interconnected, failure in any of the transmission components can cause widespread blackouts that affect millions of people.

When transmission systems fail, they cause other failures and equipment damage. In 2003, A software bug caused a blackout with cascading failures in the Northeast and Canada, ultimately affecting more then 55 million people for at least two days. Another blackout was caused by human error when an substation under maintenance was prematurely put online. The error caused 26 other substations to shut down, affected millions of people, and economic losses ran into tens of millions of dollars.

Protect Your Home and Business

Guardian 20kW Home Backup Generator

Guardian 8kW  to 20kW Home Backup Generator

You can protect your home and business with a backup supply of electricity. Standby generators integrate into a building’s electrical system with an automatic transfer switch and isolate the building from the power grid during an outage. The system detects power interruptions immediately. After a short delay to prevent unnecessary starts during momentary outages, the automated system starts the generator, then switches the building onto generator power. Once utility power is restored, the system reconnects the building to the grid and then begins to shut down the generator.

Quiet Connect or Power Connect by Cummins Onan

Cummins Onan 30kW to 60kW Power Connect for Business or Home Use

It all happens automatically and without human intervention. Most standby generators run on natural gas or LP gas to eliminate frequent refueling or volatile fuel storage. Some systems run on diesel fuel with integrated fuel tanks.

A standby generator gives you peace of mind with the knowledge that you can keep your businesses doors open and your home livable and safe during an extended power outage.

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Steps to Secure Protect Portable Generators During Use

Briggs & Stratton Elite 7000 Watt Electric Start Portable Generator

Secure Your Portable Generator from Theft

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, people who ran their generators indoors or too close to their home became a part of the storms sad statistics. Interviews with people sickened by carbon monoxide poisoning revealed that fear of theft was one of the main reasons why portable generator users put their generators too close to their homes, or even ran them indoors.

A portable generator operating during a power outage is worth its weight in cash, and too many unscrupulous people will take advantage of the opportunity. Keep your home safe and follow safety rules for proper generator placement.

Above all else, never operate a portable generator indoors or near an open window, door, or vent.

Storage Tips

If you’ve ever driven through a construction zone after working hours, you’ve probably seen tool boxes and generators suspended thirty feet off the ground by a crane to prevent the items from being stolen. Most homeowners don’t have access to a crane, but a good storage location is just as effective.

Store your portable generator in a secure, locked building when not in use. Garages and locked storage sheds are the best choice. The old adage, “out of sight, out of mind” is a good rule to follow. If thieves can’t see it, they won’t think about it and that adds a significant measure of security.

Remember that gasoline ages quickly, especially when the ambient temperature is warm. Before storing the unit, drain the generator’s gas tank and run the carburetor dry, or add fuel stabilizer to the gasoline before putting it in the tank. Aging gasoline forms varnishes and gummy deposits that can clog carburetor ports and cause poor performance.

If you must store the unit inside a house, drain the gasoline from the tank before putting it away.

Keep the generator’s make, model, and serial number with your owner’s manual and other documentation. If the unit is stolen despite your security measures, you can provide the information to the police and greatly ensure the odds your property is returned if police recover it.

In-Use Security

The creative methods people have invented to prevent portable generator theft are a testament to problem. Most thieves are opportunists—they see an easy opportunity and take it. If it’s not easy, they don’t take it. Usually. These methods are good ways to deter all but the most determined thief.

Use carriage bolts to secure a steel plate to the bottom of the generator frame with the nuts down. The plate should extend about two feet beyond the outside of the frame. Position the generator, then park your vehicle with the tire resting on the plate. Keep the muffler in mind when positioning the plate so that it won’t end up pointing at the vehicle. This method of theft prevention is often used by campers, but could certainly be used at home.

Place the generator inside a fenced-in area during use and lock the gate. Consider removing the wheels from the frame to make hauling the generator away more difficult. During the night, a light will also help deter thieves and a motion-activated trail camera can take pictures of potential thieves.

A hardened chain and hardened lock are another good deterrent. Buy a lock with a guard that prevents the use of bolt cutters. Although tools such as a battery-powered grinder with a cutting wheel will cut the lock or chain, using those tools makes noise and draws attention to the user.

Remember that the most important aspect of portable generator operation is the safety of your family. Follow all manufacturer’s guidelines and safety rules for operation and placement during use.

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New Mobile Link App Simplifies Generac Standby Remote Monitoring

The Mobile Link IOS screen showing status lights and current mode with options.

Mobile Link on IOS

Generac has released a new free app for IOS and Android devices to make remote monitoring of standby generators easier than ever before. Paired with the optional Mobile Link remote cellular monitoring system, the app allows users to receive status updates from their standby generators on smartphones and tablets.

Previously, Mobile Link users were able to check generator status in real time by logging onto the Mobilelinkgen.com website and viewing their dashboard. The new app keeps the homeowner informed automatically without opening their web browser.

Mobile Link

Mobile Link with Generac Guardian Standby Generator

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

The Mobile Link accessory attaches to the outside of the standby generator and communicates with the cellular system via text message. Cellular service is required and one year of service is included in the package. Messages are relayed to the StandbyStatus.com website where laptop, tablet, and smartphone users are able to access the generator’s controller remotely. The Mobile Link services will also send updates as text messages to four different cell phone numbers and up to four email addresses.

The Mobile Link system was first introduced in 2013 and is compatible with any Generac-manufactured air-cooled generators of 20 kilowatt or less that were manufactured in or after 2008. Liquid-cooled generators from 22 to 60 kilowatts from 2010 and later years are also compatible with the system, but require an extension cable.

During emergencies, the cellular phone system has proven more reliable than traditional landlines and landline-based Internet connections, making the Mobile Link system more reliable than other technologies that use telephone lines or Ethernet connections. Using a connection established by the Mobile Link accessory between the generator’s controller and the cellular text system, the controller sends and receives information as text messages. Installation is simple and it takes only a few minutes to attach the Mobile Link to the outside of the generator enclosure and connect it to the controller.

A new feature planned for 2014 will allow homeowners to send standby generator messages directly to their local dealer to ensure on-time maintenance and allow the dealer to spot problems before they occur.

The New App

IOS Mobile Link App showing Maintenance Alerts for filters, oil changes, spark plug changes.

Mobile Link App Maintenance Alerts

A large majority of smartphone users rely on their phones for information in real time including weather, traffic, and directions. The Mobile Link App provides real-time information on the status of the user’s standby generator including when it starts and runs, if it needs maintenance, or has shut down in the event of a problem, such as a low oil condition.

The new Mobile Link app is available for Android and IOS tablets and smart phones at the Amazon App Store, iTunes App Store, and Google Play. Generac showcased the new technology in February at the annual International Builder’s Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Mobile Link at iTune App Store, Amazon App Store, Google Play.

Homeowners can still access their dashboards at StandbyStatus.com via desktop or laptop computer, smartphone, or tablet, or receive email or text message notifications.

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Portable Generators Power Up Outdoor Summer Activities

GP7500E 5943 Portable Generator by Generac Power Systems


Summer is just around the corner and many folks are planning summer activities that include family reunions and ballpark tailgate parties, to camping trips and festivals. And whether your outdoor fun is in the backyard or local park, or even in the remote wilderness, a portable generator can add a whole new level of possibilities.


Getting away from it all doesn’t have to mean roughing it. Everyone likes their coffee or tea in the morning, and having a few conveniences is always nice. A portable generator can provide plenty of power for a number of appliances that you might not want to do without.

The small iX series inverter generator.

Inverter Generators offer Quiet and Efficient Power for Camping or any Outdoor Event

Refrigeration is a good example. When it’s warm and you’re a long way from a supply of ice for the cooler, a small refrigerator can keep drinks cold and meat or produce fresh. Most small refrigerators will run on less than 100 watts of power. Looking for hot drinks instead of cold? A four-cup coffee maker requires just a few hundred watts. Lanterns are great sources of light, but a string or two of colored lights creates an ambiance that fits perfectly in a campground.

Check out extra quiet and fuel-efficient inverter generators to bring power to your camp site.

Outdoor Gatherings

People at an outdoor event with coolers, tents, and shelters.

Bring the power along to your next outdoor gathering.

Summer is favorite time for picnics and reunions. Setting up at the local park under the shelter is a good idea in case it rains. Many park shelters have an outlet or two, but how much power they can handle is another story.

Portable generators can supply power at picnics and other outings for a variety of uses including public address systems, karaoke machines, crock pots, and coffee makers. If the party continues after dark, plug in some party lights to illuminate some space for dancing.

Unless your event is bigger than your average family picnic, a moderately sized portable unit will usually handle anything you can throw at it.

Tailgate Parties

People in team jerseys cooking out and partying at a tailgate party.

Tailgating at the Ballpark

There’s nothing quite like arriving at the ball park early and cooking food to share with family, friends, and even the folks wandering by to get a whiff of what’s on the grill.

Compact and portable generators can power music systems, video, and even television in case you weren’t able to get tickets to the game. Relax and turn up the music without worrying about depleting the car battery. For more elaborate cookouts, the generator can power a spit to keep your favorite meat turning.

Norwall carries a number of propane and gasoline portable generators for recreational use.

Festivals and Events

Generac's GP17500E portable generator has a running capacity of 17.5 kilowatts.

Generac GP17500E Portable Generator

Larger events need more power and Norwall Power Systems has the generator to keep your event running smooth.

Farmers markets, outdoor craft fairs, church festivals, community events—they all require power to keep things going. The larger gasoline portables can provide from 8500 to 17,500 watts of power, equivalent to the power of five to ten, 15-amp circuits. Strategically placed, portable generators can supply power to a number of locations with the right cords while keeping the noise level at a minimum. At the same time, a central power source eliminates the need for a number of smaller generators scattered about.

Safe Use Guidelines

Portable generators use internal combustion engines to produce electrical power. The fuels burned always result in exhaust that contains carbon monoxide.

Never operator a portable generator inside a tent, basement, garage, shed, home, or any other enclosed space. It takes only minutes for carbon monoxide levels to reach lethal levels.

Always run generators outdoors, away from homes, tents, and sleeping spaces. Keep the machines away from windows, doors, and vents. Even a small opening can pull large amounts of exhaust into an enclosed space.

Remember your neighbors, whether you’re camping, at home, or at the park. Position your generator where noise and exhaust won’t be a factor for them.

When it’s time to refuel, shut the generator off for a few minutes and let it cool. Never attempt to fill the fuel tank while the generator is running or the motor is hot. While it’s off, check the oil and top that off too.

Don’t let your summer fun be interrupted by tragedy. Use portable generators safely.

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Standby Generator Installations Require Time and Planning

Standby generator with covers open for access.

Home Standby Generator Installations Require Planning

The season of severe weather is just around the corner. Everything from hurricanes and tornadoes, to floods, brush fires, and torrential rains will impact lives across the United States in the coming months. Every year, millions of utility customers do without power for periods that range from a few hours to a few weeks.

While not everyone in the country will be affected by the season’s power outages, there is no guarantee anyone will have uninterrupted power.

Norwall PowerSystems keeps standby generators in stock and ready to ship within a day or two, but that doesn’t mean you can order a unit today and plug it in tomorrow.

A standby generator installation requires planning, building permits, the services of at least two trades, inspections, and some units also require activation. When the next weather event threatens electrical power or even knocks it out, big-box home centers will sell out their entire stock of standby and portable generators within hours.

Planning Process

Cummins Onan Home Standby Generator

Cummins Onan Home Standby Generator

Before you purchase, select a location for the generator that meets local and national fire and electrical codes, and also the manufacturer’s recommendation. For most air-cooled residential standby generators, this means 18 inches away from the building, 36 inches of clearance on either side and in front of the unit, and a minimum of five feet horizontally to any window, door, vent, or other opening.

It is important that you speak with the local building department yourself. Being informed about local codes and what it takes to install the generator properly will help you spot shoddy work and avoid problems later. Take a plat of survey with you to the building department and show them where you want to install the unit. Some communities require an inspection to ensure the location and electrical system are up to code.

An electrical outlet and plug drawing with bolts of electricity.

Use an Electrician for a Safe and Trouble-Free Installation

Find an electrician. Even though any journeyman electrician is technically qualified to do the job, find one with generator installation experience. Ask how many standby generators they have installed and discuss the installation with them. It’s always a good idea to get references, and anyone with satisfied customers will be happy to provide a few references.

An experienced electrician will also know what local codes require and can navigate the sometimes complex task of acquiring building permits and having the work pass a final inspection.

In all likelihood, you will also need a plumber or other mechanical contractor to run a gas line to the installation location and connect the unit. They will also determine if your natural gas meter or LP gas regulator is large enough and can coordinate with the local gas company to make meter changes if necessary or install a new regulator.

Don’t forget to plan for delivery. The truck will arrive with the generator and they will place it at the entrance of your driveway. You’ll need to arrange help in advance to move it close to the installation location. A 20 kilowatt unit will need six strong people and two 3/4-inch black-iron pipes to carry it.

Lineman on a Utility Pole

Not A DIY Job

The installation of some automatic transfer switches requires interrupting the power from the meter. An electrician can safely disconnect the meter and make the installation, but dealing with live wires direct from the pole isn’t something most DIYers are qualified to do. In some cases, the electric utility requires notification, in others they may disconnect and then reconnect the meter after the install is complete. It’s just one more reason to employ the services of a qualified electrician.

If the install requires interruption of utility power, it’s a good bet you’ll do without power for several hours at a minimum, and possibly an entire day.

Plan Ahead

Don’t wait for the next weather event or local distribution problem to look for a generator. Plan ahead for severe weather and other utility disruptions and begin planning your standby generator installation today. You won’t be sorry when the rest of the neighborhood is dark and sweltering in the heat while your lights are on and your home is cool.

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Home Standby Generator Watts Comparison—What Can I Run?

A frequently asked question about generators is, “What can I run with my generator?”

Guardian 20kW Home Backup Generator

Guardian 20kW Home Backup Generator

The answer is, it depends. Norwall PowerSystems supplies standby generators with power capacities that range from 7000 watts to 150,000 watts, and many that fall somewhere in between. Since a standby generator represents a considerable investment in both the equipment and in the installation costs, buying the right generator to meet current and future needs is important.

Home standby generators for backup emergency power are permanently installed appliances and operate on an as-needed basis similar to a hot water heater or furnace that only runs when it is needed. When a power outage occurs, the system senses the outage immediately. A short wait confirms the outage isn’t momentary. The generator motor is started and comes up to speed, then the automatic transfer switch isolates the electrical system from the utility lines and connects it to the generator to provide the home with power. The entire process happens in seconds.

7000 to 10,000 Watts

Generac's 7kW core power unit pictured with 8-position 50-amp ATS.

Generac 7kW Core Power with Automatic Transfer Switch

Air-cooled standby generators in this range provide enough power to keep essential home systems operating. Operating a sump pump, freezer, refrigerator, and furnace will use up to 4000 watts. Add in some lights, a small television, and a microwave oven, and a 7000-watt unit is working close to its continuous capacity. The larger 10,000-watt standby unit could probably handle the additional load of a 1-ton air conditioner.

This scenario depicts a home operating with only the bare essentials. There’s enough power to keep the home safe from flooding and the food from spoiling while providing the means for minimal lighting, some outside communication, and to heat some soup for dinner.

11,000 to 14,000 Watts

In addition to powering the basic essentials, the larger standby generators that supply 11 to 14 kilowatts can handle some larger loads that include well pumps, electric hot water heaters, and a larger central air conditioning unit. A transfer switch with a managed power can extend this capability to a number of appliances. At the top end, there’s usually enough power left over to keep the kids busy with a video game or a desktop computer.

Generac Guardian 11kW Standby Generator Pre Packaged with 200 Amp Service Rated ATS 6438

Generac Guardian 11kW Standby Generator Pre Packaged with 200 Amp Service Rated ATS 6438

With a generator of this size, it becomes possible to use multiple kitchen appliances such as electric fry pans, coffee makers, hot plates, and toasters. Each use 1000 to 1500 watts, so it is still easy to overload the system if you are not careful about your power use. Keep too many of these devices operating and you’ll find that your A/C unit won’t start or the well pump doesn’t run.

15,000 to 20,000 Watts

Mobile Link with Generac Guardian Standby Generator

Generac Guardian with Optional Mobile Link

Generators in this range are a good choice when the homeowner wants to keep all the essentials operating along with a number of conveniences. With transfer switches that manage power, a number of high-voltage appliances can operate. It is still important to understand that the generator isn’t the nearly-limitless supply that the electric utility offers. Even so, most of the people in a house won’t notice that the power is out once the generator is running.

Standby 15kW to 20kW generators are essential if you need to power multiple large air conditioners alongside hot water heaters and well pumps. Larger homes may require additional power.

22,000 Watts and More

Owners of larger homes will want to consider liquid-cooled standby generators that can supply more power than largest air-cooled models. These generators offer exceptional reliability.

Liquid-cooled generators use automotive style engines with a radiator, cooling fan, and coolant that circulates to keep the engine cool. Residential units of up to 60 kilowatts are available to keep even large, luxury homes supplied with power. If you need more power, commercial standby generators can supply up to 150,000 watts of power.

Run multiple air conditioners at the same time, use your electric range and the electric dryer too. All while keeping the lights on and everything else running too.

Before deciding which generator you will purchase, conduct your own power audit to size your generator, consult with the electrician who will install it, and confirm your plans with your local building and code enforcement agency.

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Be A Force of Nature: National Severe Weather Preparedness Week

An infographic showing various severe weather types that impacted the USA during 2012.

2012 U.S.A. History of Extreme Weather

March 2-8, 2014 is National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, an awareness campaign sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Preparing in advance for severe weather could save the lives of your family and even your neighbors. Last year alone, the United States experienced seven severe-weather events that took 120 lives. Each event was responsible for more that 1 billion dollars in damage. All too often, severe weather takes people by surprise even though they have advance warning—sometimes days or even a week ahead of the weather.

This year, NOAA and FEMA are encouraging everyone to “Become a Force of Nature” by being prepared, understanding the risks of severe weather, and by being an example to others. A letter from President Barack Obama states that “We all have a role in preparing ourselves and others for dangerous weather.” He also encouraged “all Americans to learn the type of hazardous weather that can affect your homes, schools, businesses, and places of worship.”

A key component of the message from the President, FEMA, and NOAA is that everyone should prepare an emergency kit that includes non-perishable food, water, a first aid kit, a flashlight with extra batteries, and other essential items.

Preparing Your Shelter

Shelter is of primary concern during any weather emergency. It can help you survive the storm, and provide a place to keep warm, prepare food, and stay safe after the storm.

Home Standby Maintenance

Prepare now for severe weather power outages by installing a standby generator.

Homes are the primary places of shelter during and after storms. Inside rooms without windows are best, preferably with four walls that support the overhead structure. Even better are rooms specifically reinforced to withstand severe weather. Commercially available storm shelters provide even more safety.

Keep your emergency kit in your shelter, and include a large, heavy-duty plastic sheet or tarp to provide emergency shelter in the event you have to leave your home or it is destroyed. Supply your home with emergency power from a standby generator. After a major weather event, it could be weeks before power is restored. An emergency generator can keep the lights on, the house warm or cool, and prevent stored food from spoiling. Generators also provide power for sump pumps to prevent flooding.

Know Your Risks

Severe weather can happen anywhere, at any time. We all know about hurricane season, tornado season, and storm season. New agencies often talk about them. As events in recent years have shown, severe weather doesn’t pay much attention to seasons or state boundaries.

A late fall outbreak of tornadoes in November of 2013 produced more than 70 storms in the Midwest and included two EF4 tornadoes that caused widespread damage and was the most active tornado day of the year.

Despite being warned days in advance of severe weather, many Moore, Oklahoma residents were caught by surprise when a devastating EF5 tornado with winds in excess of 200 MPH struck the town and mowed a 1.3-mile-wide path through 17 miles of the city’s landscape in May, 2013.

Super-Storm Sandy came ashore as a hurricane in New Jersey, flooded Manhattan and parts of Long Island, and blew across the Appalachian Mountains all the way to Wisconsin with gale force winds and 30 foot waves on Lake Michigan.

It’s not everyday that a hurricane affects the Midwest, but Sandy serves as a lesson that severe weather knows few boundaries.

Be Prepared with an NOAA Weather Radio

Throughout the country, NOAA provides weather alerts via more than 1000 transmitters. A weather radio with Public Alert capability is a good investment. Weather radios come with various features and choosing one with public alert capability provides around the clock protection. In the event of a weather emergency that could affect your location, the radio will sound a tone and then give emergency information.

Choose a model that operates on AC with a battery backup. In the event of a power failure, it will continue to operate off the battery or until you connect it to your portable or standby generator.

Unlike other services that provide alerts, the weather radio operates continuously to inform you of approaching severe weather.

Be a force of nature and prepare now for severe weather. You never know when it will strike.

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Raising Awareness: National Severe Weather Preparedness Week

Poster from the FEMA/NOAA severe weather preparedness campaign.FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency) are helping to raise severe weather awareness and preparation during National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, March 2 through March 8.

Severe weather is a possibility during every season and each carries it’s own risks. As winter begins to meld into spring, it’s time to start preparing for spring, summer, and fall weather hazards. The National Weather Service invites you to contact your regional NWS office to learn more about risks specific to your area.

Severe Weather Risk

Every region has its own severe weather risks whether from tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, or other hazards. After a long period of drought, California is experiencing mudslides where heavy rains have inundated hillsides previously ravaged by wildfires. Wildfires are an annual concern throughout the West.

The Gulf and Atlantic Coasts are less than three months away from the hurricane season which begins June 1 and ends November 30. It would be a rare year indeed if no tropical cyclones came ashore to cause flooding, power outages, and force evacuations.

From the Rocky Mountains all the way to the East Coast, strong storms will spawn tornadoes. Last year an F5 tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma and carved a 1.3-mile-wide swath of destruction through the city and traveled 17 miles in 40 minutes. Three schools were among the buildings devastated along with a hospital and a movie theater.

Watches and Warnings

When severe weather threatens, a watch is issued to inform people of the weather risk. For example, when conditions are ripe for tornado, a tornado watch is issued. A warning indicates that the severe weather condition has formed into a threat. When a tornado forms, a warning is issued for the immediate area and path that the tornado is expected to take.

Understand the meaning of watch for each type of severe weather. A tornado watch means that a tornado could form at any time and any place within the watch area. The same is true of severe thunderstorms or winter weather.

Tropical cyclones are well tracked by weather services. Tropical storm and hurricane watches are issued 48 hours before the storm arrives. A warning means that arrival of the storm is imminent.

Plan for Severe Weather

Have a plan in place for dealing with severe weather. Prepare your home in advance of storm watches and know what you will do if severe weather threatens. Tornadoes sometimes give very little warning and having a shelter plan can save your family’s lives.

Be prepared with food, water, and supplies to last for three days following severe weather. FEMA has a list of items to include in an emergency supply kit.

Briggs & Stratton Elite 7000 Watt Electric Start Portable GeneratorA source of backup power such as a portable or standby generator can keep your lights on and your home safe until utility companies are able to restore service. Portable owners should store enough fuel and know how to keep it fresh until needed.

People with special dietary needs may find it difficult to purchase food in the event of a widespread disaster and should plan accordingly.

Know evacuation routes in the event you are forced to leave the area, and know where you will go as well. Don’t wait until the last minute to leave. Roadways will become clogged with traffic and fuel becomes difficult to purchase when everyone is leaving the area.

The Aftermath

Severe Weather is unforgiving and often leaves destruction in its wake. If you’re prepared with water, supplies, and food, you’ll find life more manageable. It is a little easier to focus on recovery when you’re not worried about drinking water, how to feed your family for the next few days, or whether you can keep warm in the winter or cool in the summer.

Having a plan and the supplies you need such as food, water, electricity, and many other items will get you through the storm’s aftermath until relief efforts reach you.

Be prepared for the next time severe weather threatens.

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