Generating Relief

Autumn’s cool breezes and mild temperatures carry with them the anticipation that winter is just around the corner.

Recent winters have hit Oklahoma with several epic snowstorms. The record snowfall earlier this year left most of our state digging out for days and thousands without power. This season, many are looking to be prepared next time.

David Burke, president of Gilley Electric, who has been selling Generac generators for 18 years, says sales today are higher than ever.

Ginette Overall, owner of Power Ready, agrees. She opened Power Ready, an authorized Briggs and Stratton dealer, after she spent days without power. Upon opening, business was so busy she didn’t get her own unit installed for three months.

Why are so many people buying generators? Overall says the peace of mind that generators provide in case the lights go out and the heat is off is part of the reason. She believes generators add value to your home.

“I think generators will become expected to be in the home just like garage door openers and security alarms,” says Overall.

“There are lots of reasons to have (a generator) and not many to not have one.”

There are many options available when choosing a generator. Various sizes and fuel options allow for a range of uses. Choosing the right generator is as easy as a phone call.

Both Overall and Burke say they can help you analyze your needs and match your home with an appropriate unit.

The area you want to power with your generator can vary, including powering the whole house or a specific area for emergencies.

“We can install a generator to power your ‘safe zone,’” explains Burke. “You can power anything except your A/C with this set-up.”

Homeowners can also choose between a permanent unit and a portable generator. Permanent units have higher installation costs; however, they are less expensive to operate. Cheaper to purchase, portable generators will cost the price of the gas used, Burke points out. Additionally, a permanent unit can have an automatic transfer switch that senses when the power goes out and will turn the unit on and off. This convenient feature makes the unit very safe to use.

Typically, there are three common fuel types: natural gas, propane and gasoline. Natural gas tends to be the most cost effective choice, even though the upfront costs can be higher.

“Natural gas is the lowest costing fuel to operate a generator,” says Burke. “And, all of the other fuels’ supply has to be monitored so you are prepared.”

“The cost varies, but at Power Ready it usually starts at $3,200 (for a non-portable generator), and then installation can be around $1,500 to $3,500.”

Burke estimates the cost for a Generac portable generator between $1,200 and $1,500, and the cost of a large, permanent generator that can power the entire home between $6,000 and $7,000.

Generators require regular maintenance, reminds Overall.

“You should have a certified technician check it out regularly,” she explains. “It needs oil and filters, just like a car.”

Burke advises to be cautious of whom you buy from.

“They will be telling you how to use your generator,” says Burke. “So make sure they are properly trained.”