Back-up Generators

Posted in Blog Posts on December 11th, 2012 by capitalhm

The Northern Virginia area has experienced some severe weather over the last decade. From strong winds and heavy rains to snow blizzards leaving 5-6 feet of snow behind. Just this summer the area was also severely impacted by the Derecho. As a result power lines go down. Power outages are the inevitable consequence.

This year we were just coming from back home from a trip to the beach, when the derecho hit the area. Trees fell down, power lines were impacted. Hundreds of thousands of people were without power. We were one of them.  It was a hot Saturday morning. When we arrived at our house we had to clear a huge branch from the entrance to our house. The power was out.

We got the backup generator working within minutes. It keeps the fridgerator running. That is priority number one on a hot day. We also ran all major kitchen appliances, air movers as well as the lights and. We also have our TV and Internet up because of the generator. A big plus if you want to stay informed as well as keep working.

The power outage lasted almost 3 full days. It could have been more. Our neighborhood luckily got back on the grid earlier than most. Because of the backup system, we were not impacted at all. We also could continue to run our business and take care of our clients.

The installation is pretty straight forward. It’s important that the unit is filled up with all the essential lubricants. The only thing that we did in addition was to drive a copper rod (9 feet) into the ground. We use that rod to ground the generator properly. It’s worth to take this extra precaution.

I would recommend to choose a system with plenty of power. Some of the smaller generators will do the job, however I would recommend to operate a generator for a longer period of time only at 50% of it’s capacity. In addition to the backup generator it’s worth to have plenty of extension lines at various length (up to 100 feet) at hand. I would strongly recommend to buy power surge protected outlets. That way, your expensive electronics are not getting fried while you run them using power from the back-up generator.

It’s worth to mention that if you power your FIOS box with the generator you continue to have access to TV and internet, because the fiber optics based service is not impacted by the outage. Keep a few extra gallons of gas at home. That way you can get by for the first day or two without having to look for gas right away. If need be, you can siphon some gas from your car tank. In that case it’s worth to have a clear plastic hose handy.

Power outages are a fact of life. Having a backup power source allows you to continue with your life and work. You can continue to run all essential appliances in your house, stay cool and/or warm and keep the sump pump going. On a lighter note, lot’s of your neighbor will come by and have coffee with you, because your coffee maker/espresso machine is working.

2 Responses to “Back-up Generators”

  1. Deb says:

    Nice article Maike and very true. While Reston typically fairs well with power outages, a tree down on a line can cause loss of several hundreds of dollars worth of food. My parents lived in Homestead during Hurricane Andrew and lost power for three months. They wished they’d had a generator, which was of course impossible to find for any price after the hurricane.

  2. Jamil Mourtaza says:

    I need to know more about the size and the price of the generator and the installation.
    Thanks.

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