Hurricane Preparation 2014

140705-hurricane-arthur-819a_292ceb2e46295f7af0db9a42b43bdf6dHurricane season is upon us, and this year is promising some action. If you’re at risk of being affected by a hurricane, then it’s important that you’re prepared in advance. Being prepared will help to minimize the risk of property damage and bodily injury.

You’ll want to be prepared to either evacuate or have an effective shelter to protect you from the storm surge.

Knowing your evacuation route can help you relocate to a safe place before the storm hits. Having backup evacuation routes is also a good idea should your first choice be either blocked off or jammed with traffic.

Have an emergency kit ready at all times. Include essentials like first aid, bottled water, flashlights, and batteries. Develop a communication plan to help you and your family stay coordinated and in contact.

Whether you’re staying sheltered or wish to return immediately after the storm, having a portable generator can really help make your life easier. After the storm has passed, power will be out, and you’ll likely be left with a cleanup project. Cleaning up and restoring your home to its previous state will be much easier if you have a power source to provide lighting, power pumps and fans, and keep your most important appliances running.

In case of a hurricane, tune into your local Emergency Alert System using television or radio. Keep your cell phone on you, because many carriers now will alert you to approaching weather hazards.

Having an emergency generator will be a necessity when returning home after a hurricane. Power often times isn’t restored for at least several days. Local stores usually sell out of generators very quickly in these cases, so the best bet is to buy online from a site that will deliver to you in a timely manner.

Also, since most emergency generators run on gasoline, you will want to stock up on some tanks of gasoline in advance to be sure you aren’t fighting people for a pump in the event of a hurricane. It can take a while for trucks to deliver more gas to an area affected by a hurricane, so fill a few cans and add fuel stabilizer if it’ll be sitting long.

An even better alternative is to install a standby generator that runs on natural gas or propane. This way you won’t have to worry about getting gas in an emergency at all. Standby generators will power your home automatically when the power goes out. Plus, some gas stations won’t have electricity either, meaning their pumps will not work. 

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How Important is a Standby Generator Battery?

battery_200Unlike a portable generator, home standby generators require a battery. Without a battery, standby generators are useless.

Standby generators require a 12 volt battery, and choosing a battery could be a lot more important than you think. While it’s often left as a last-minute consideration, the battery must be given some careful consideration. Once the generator is installed, it will rely entirely on the battery to deliver power at precisely the right time.

The batteries are the same as you’d use for a car, but you have to be careful to select one that will meet your specific generator’s needs.

For example, here are some requirements for air cooled standby generators up to 20kW:

Generally, Generac generators require a 525cc battery (Group 26-R). Kohler air cooled standby generators generally require a 500cc battery (Group 51). Briggs generators typically require Group 26-R batteries except for 12kW units, which require a 600 CCA battery (Group 22NF).

Maintaining an Electric Generator

generator_maintenance_kitWhether you have used your generator on multiple occasions, or it’s  been running for several days straight due to a prolonged power-outage, it’s going to need a little tender loving care.

When your generator runs around the clock, it takes a tremendous toll. To make sure your generator remains up for the task of powering your home in times of need, you’ll have to maintain it.

Portable generators are relatively easy to remember because you have to top off the fuel periodically, whereas standby generators are more likely to be forgotten about since they’re hooked up to the gas line of your home.

So when your portable generator has been running a while (approximately 100 hours), you’ll need to change the oil, replace the oil filter, and replace the old spark plugs and air filter.

You may think it seems unnecessary to do this every 100 hours because your car can go so much longer between oil changes, but unlike your car, a portable generator is air-cooled.

Air cooled engines need more frequent oil changes than liquid-cooled engines like the one in your car. When the oil gets low, you run the risk of burning up the engine. However, generators today are equipped with low oil shutdowns that are in place to keep the engine from burning up.

Because of this, a lot of people think their generator has failed them. But the painful truth is that they have failed their generator. If your standby generator turns off and stops working, check the oil.

Generator Decibels

To help you understand what decibels mean for you, and to explain why some manufacturers don’t measure the decibels for their generators, we’ve put together a chart and an article that are easy to follow.

decibel_chart

 

For more information about decibels and how they relate to generator noise levels, visit our article: Not Measured by MFG – Why Some Generators Don’t List Decibel Ratings

 

The Importance of Load Shedding

product_8470_500load shed kit is recommended for those who have multiple standard central AC systems that may run simultaneously.

The reason is that during summer months, both air conditioners may be running at the same time. And if you’re not home when the power goes out, the generator could overload due to the two air conditioner units kicking on simultaneously.

For example, an individual 5-Ton AC unit can require anywhere from 70-90+ amps to start up. When there are two, they could easily require 140-180+ amps to start both AC units at the same time.

A 20kW generator has a maximum amperage output of 145 amps, which is not enough to handle the multiple AC units along with any additional items in the home that may need to power on such as your refrigerator which can require an additional 20 amps.

The load shed kit will delay the start of the AC units when the generator initially starts. Then, it will prevent the AC units from starting at the same time.

After a short period of time, it will allow the AC units to turn back on, one at a time, which helps prevent the generator from overloading. The load shed kit can also lock out one of the AC systems to prevent the generator from overloading.

The use of the load shed kit also helps to extend the life of the generator by preventing enormous starting loads from overworking it.

Tornado Safety Checklist

83fc7768a4b9cb41e3d5c12c328fc1a5Few people actually look forward to a tornado, so not many are prepared when one actually hits.

Having a plan and a checklist to ensure you’re prepared if one strikes can be the difference between life and death.

Another thing people don’t think about is that tornadoes bring more problems than just the initial damages they create. With a tornado, you can expect extended outages, which makes recovery even more of a challenge.

To make sure you’re safe and prepared in case of a tornado, print off and use this Tornado Safety and Extended Outage Preparation Checklist.

What’s the Deal With Red-Dyed Diesel Fuel?

The sulfur content in diesel fuel is something many people tend to overlook, but be careful! You don’t want the sulfur content in your diesel to be any higher than 15 ppm if you’re using it in your standby generator.

Red Dye

The EPA requires red dye in diesel fuel with a high-sulfur content. The purpose for this was to make sure it’s not used in on-road vehicles.

The IRS requires red dye in diesel fuel that’s tax-exempt to make sure it’s not used for taxable purposes.

However, by October of this year, the EPA is going to require that any tax-exempt, red-dyed diesel fuel have a sulfur content less that 15 ppm.

If you’re careful, you can already find tax-exempt red-dyed diesel fuel under 15 ppm, but having it all switch over may motivate generator owners to start shopping differently to save money.

Generac States: “The standby generator owner/operator is solely responsible for identifying the sulfur content of the diesel fuel used in their generator, ensuring the fuel purchased does not exceed the 15 ppm sulfur limitation.”

Portable Generator Transfer Switch

Generac 30-Amp Power Transfer System (6-10 Ciercuites)I get a lot of calls from people wondering if they can remove the bonded neutral from their portable generator and install a manual transfer switch.

First, make sure you’re using a transfer switch that’s compatible with your make and model of generator.

Second, consider the following statement by Generac, leading manufacturer of quality generators:

“Some portable generators are intended for use on jobsites, and therefore are subject to OSHA regulations for GFCI protection on all receptacles.

These ‘contractor grade’ generators have their neutral wire bonded to the ground wire to pass OSHA inspection on job sites, and when connected to a [manual] transfer switch, this may cause nuisance tripping of the generator GFCI breaker.

If you’re using a neutral bonded generator to power a house or building through a [manual] transfer switch, then determine if the neutral bond wire on the generator can be disabled without voiding the warranty, preferably by a dealer or a qualified electrician.

NOTE: After this action, the generator will no longer pass OSHA inspection on job sites. Consult the manufacturer of your generator to determine if the neutral bond can be removed. If it can be disabled, then no modifications to your [manual] transfer switch installation are needed.

If the neutral bond cannot be disabled or voids the generator warranty, you must install a Switched Neutral Kit (model 6297) accessory with your [manual] transfer switch.”

The key to this is when you are connecting your generator to your residential electrical panel, you need to make sure the outlet on the generator you are connecting to is not GFCI protected.

If it’s not GFCI protected you are ok with connecting to any manual transfer switch, but if it is GFCI protected you need to utilize a switched neutral kit or a specific GFI manual transfer switch.

Human Powered Cell Phone Chargers?

wearable-generator

Dr. Zong Lin Wang’s prototype of a human-powered portable backpack generator designed to revolutionize the way we charge electronic devices.

There are more cellphones and tablets on the planet than there are people!

And you know just how terrifying it is to be without your smart phone.

The massive amount of electricity used to power the millions of cell phone and tablet devices  in the United States alone depletes non-renewable energy sources.

If you can, why not give the environment a break while saving yourself the trouble of finding an outlet while you’re playing Angry Birds?

Scientist Zhong Lin Wang and his team of researchers have created a lightweight backpack generator that runs entirely off of the movement of your own body.

Using a process known as the triboelectrification effect, Wang has found a way to generate electricity by utilizing the side-to-side movement created by walking.

What sets Wang’s creation apart is the addition of highly charged nanomaterials which he uses to maximize the contact created between two surfaces. This small addition raises the energy output of Wang’s generator, which he calls the triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG).

Wang’s TENG matches the efficiency of an electromagnetic generator, but it’s smaller and lighter-weight than any other mechanically operated electric generators.

While they’re not available to strap on and plug into yet, researchers are looking at these gas-free portable generators as transportable, clean energy “chargers on the go” that may be fully developed in the not-so-distant future.

How to Stay Warm in Winter Storm Nika

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Winter storm Nika has wiped out power for more than 1 million.

After covering half of the country in either snow, ice, or a “wintery mix,” many areas along the north-east coast of the United States have endured severe ice accumulation and power outages.

During a time when temperatures are very cold, power outages pose a serious problem. This means no heat and no lights.

A lot of people are searching for generators, which means locally sold generators may sell out quickly. If you are searching for a generator, and your local stores are all sold out of portable emergency generators, you can still get one through Electric Generators Direct.

Electric Generators Direct stocks a large number of portable emergency generators and portable professional generators/contractor generators for situations just like this to ensure people in need can obtain one. Just be sure to never run the generator inside your home or garage. Be safe!

We can ship them out quickly to help get your home warmed and lit sooner, and we have experts like myself available to answer any questions you may have.

Call:  1 (800) 800-3317