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When a generator is not going to work

What to do if your generator is not working properly.

Recent events here in New Jersey have caused a lot of folks to lose power to their homes. Specifically we are talking about Hurricane Irene and that weird October snowstorm. Both times I lost power at my home for three days.

 

Some people had flooding in their basements and lost lots of their possessions. Many had to replace boilers, hot water heaters and HVAC systems. The devastation that comes from having a flooded basement is something that no one wants to repeat.

 

Now comes the part about the generator.  You may say something like: "I never want to go through anything like that devastation again so I will get a generator."  I completely and totally understand those sentiments. Getting a generator makes a lot of sense.

 

Let's talk about the different kinds of generators. There are mainly 2 types, to the best of my knowledge, portable and stationary.

 

First we will discuss portable. The portable units are something like you would see at a campground. This type of unit is powered by a gasoline engine and is as noisy as a lawn mower. The smaller portable generator will power your sump pump and refrigerator and maybe a little more. The gasoline holding tank capacity can run the engine for up to 12 hours before needing a refill. So you have to refill the gas twice a day, it's noisy and it will keep your sump pump and fridge going, if you are home when the power goes out. Or, better yet, if you are home and AWAKE when the power goes out. Think about that for a minute. If you ever plan on taking a family vacation how would that generator work?

 

The other bigger unit is a stationary generator and one of these babies can power your whole house. Now we're talking about the sump pump, the fridge, the lights, the A/C, the TV, the computer and everything. This generator is usually powered by natural gas so you don't have to do any handling of gasoline. It comes with a transfer switch so it will start automatically in the event of a power failure. So it doesn't matter if you are at home or not, whether you are awake or not, it is automatic. So even if you are at Disneyworld, you would be protected in the event of a power failure.

 

Next we can talk about the cost of each. Here comes the bottom line; the cost of a portable generator is usually in the hundreds as in $400-$800 and the cost of a stationary generator can be from $7,000 to $12,000 and beyond. There is a big disparity in the amount of electricity each type can produce and a big disparity in price.

 

I don't sell generators and I don't pretend to be an expert. It seems to me that you first need to know is what you want to power up to decide what type of generator would be best for you.

 

We started this whole topic by talking about basement flooding which is where I do qualify as an expert. If your sole purpose in buying a generator is to prevent your basement from ever flooding again, you may be surprised that there is still a time when the generator won't be able to prevent flooding. Whether it’s a portable or stationary, expensive or inexpensive, you are still vulnerable when the sump pump quits or dies of old age.

 

If your primary purpose in getting a generator is to prevent basement flooding, you might instead consider water powered emergency sump pump. The water powered emergency sump pump works without electricity and is activated by a float. A water powered pump is designed to work until the power is restored. It will go for days if necessary and keep going long after battery backups have dies.

 

The generator replaces electricity only.  The water powered emergency sump pump will pump when there is electricity and the primary sump pump fails while the $12,000 generator won’t help at all. We sell water powered sump pumps for $995 installed and guaranteed. For a lot of folks this will be a better solution.

 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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