Posts Tagged emergency power

Top 4 Most Devastating Florida Hurricanes in History

florida hurricanes

Flood in the Belle Glade area after the 1928 storm. (Historical Society of Palm Beach)

Being prepared for a disaster by having a home standby generator can make a world of difference. For starters, a standby unit means you don’t have to rely on gas (which could be in short supply after a major natural disaster) and you don’t have to head outside to refill the unit during or after the storm.

Unfortunately, some of the worst Florida hurricanes to ever hit the region happened long ago, before emergency power systems, generators and other helpful devices were invented.

Here’s a breakdown of the five worst hurricanes in the history of Florida.

Key West, 1919

Although Key West has been struck by hurricanes numerous times, none have been as devastating as the one that landed there in 1919.The hurricane’s death toll could be as high as 800 (the exact numbers are unknown), with many of those deaths happening onboard ships that were sailing in the surrounding waters.

One of the reasons for the massive damage caused by this hurricane was how long the storm lasted. Although the strongest winds (110 mph) only lasted for a few hours, the storm lingered over South Florida for 38 hours. The sustained 39 mph winds made evacuation difficult and might have affected how many lives were lost in the storm.

After striking Florida, the storm then continued on to Corpus Christi, Texas, becoming the first hurricane ever to hit the city directly.

Okeechobee, 1928

The most devastating hurricane in the history of Florida, Okeechobee killed more than 2,000 people and destroyed over 6,000 homes. That’s in addition to 2,000 other people who died when the hurricane struck the Caribbean, especially the islands of Puerto Rico and Guadeloupe. In Florida, the hurricane was particularly devastating because it struck farther inland, taking residents by surprise.

Aside from the destruction brought over by the 125 mph winds, Okeechobee also caused massive floods.The rain that came with the storm caused the Lake Okeechobee dikes to crumble, inundating the surrounding area.

The Herbert Hoover Dike was constructed in the lake after the hurricane to help control the movement of the water and prevent a similar tragedy from ever happening again.

Labor Day, 1935

Known as the Labor Day Hurricane or the Florida Keys Hurricane, was a category 5 hurricane that struck the upper Florida Keys. The hurricane is still considered the “most intense landfalling U.S. hurricane,” with winds reaching 185 mph.

Over 400 people died during the storm, including 200 World War I veterans living in a local work camp. The hurricane derailed trains, washed away bridges, and completely destroyed the village of Islamorada. A storm surge almost 20 feet tall washed away entire area of the Florida Keys.

Andrew, 1992

Called “the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history,” Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida in August of 1992. It caused over $25 billion in damage and hit the state with winds as strong as 177 mph.

Andrew caused a relatively low number of fatalities: 23 people. However, it left over 175,000 homeless and almost 1.5 million people without electricity for days. The hurricane also caused massive natural destruction, knocking down over 70,000 trees in the Everglades. Floods and heavy rain caused additional damage and required massive evacuations.

While installing a home standby generator will not necessarily keep you safe when Florida hurricanes hit, it can still be a great ally during the storm’s aftermath. Keep in mind that in many cases, people return to their homes after the storm has passed but before electric power is restored. Having a home generator means you’ll be able to cook, have access to warm water and feel safer during a moment of crisis.

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5 Reasons Your Florida Business Needs a Commercial Generator for Backup Power

commercial generatorLiving and working in Florida, you and your employees face the reality of tropical storms and hurricanes that can lead to the loss of electrical power to your business and equipment. If you could find a way to keep your business operational during and after a major storm or other catastrophe, you would be able to protect much of your business – and much more. A commercial-grade generator may help you stay in business.

Ability to Maintain Customer Contact

If you have a commercial generator installed for your business, you’ll be able to resume contact with your customers on the first day you are allowed to get back into your office. While other businesses in your neighborhood and community are unable to open because they do not have generators, you’re calling customers to see how they made it through the storm. You’re also building valuable goodwill.

Keep Lighting and Security

A commercial generator is equipped with a transfer switch, which means that as soon as a major storm leads to a loss of electrical power, the switch senses that power has gone out. The generator kicks in, continuing to power your business’ lighting and security system, which helps to keep your business and everything within safe from looters.

Looters won’t target a business that still has its lights – and security – operational. Instead, they will target those companies that have gone dark after a power outage.

Avoid Loss of Electronic Data

Your business’ computers are vulnerable to power outages, especially when they don’t run on internal batteries. Data stored on the hard drives could be lost in the event of a major storm and resulting power outage.

Even if you have a regularly scheduled data backup, a loss of electricity can cause your computers to lose data that you, your employees and your business rely on to stay in operation.

Prevent Loss of Income

Unless you have a source of emergency power that doesn’t rely on the municipal power grid, your business can’t operate until electricity begins flowing through the lines again. For you and your business, this would force you to stay closed, losing thousands of dollars for every day you’re unable to open.

A generator that connects to your business’ electrical lines provides a reliable source of backup power. This enables you to open, keep your employees earning and, by allowing customers to come buy from you, helps you to bring in the money you need to keep your company operational.

A Commercial Generator Helps Increase Value to Customers

As a business owner in Florida, you know how much damage a hurricane or even a tropical storm can wreak on communities, individuals and businesses such as yours. Your customers are also aware of this.

It makes good business sense to invest in a source of backup power so you can continue providing services or products to loyal customers. When power lines are pulled down, other businesses will stay shuttered until damage has been repaired and power restored. Some of these businesses may never reopen.

Customers develop loyalty to a business as well as to a brand. When they are unable to visit the business to which they’ve developed positive feelings, they will eventually begin to think that the owner is shortsighted. Eventually, they will start visiting another establishment.

For so many reasons, having reliable emergency power available before a disaster strikes can save your business. Because Florida is right in the path of strong storms, a commercial generator makes good business sense.

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Can’t Afford a Generator? Look for a Generator Sale or a Pre-Owned Unit

generator saleWhen bad weather or any other type of disaster hits, one of the first things to go is your power supply. During an outage, you’ll often wish you had invested in a home generator to provide emergency power. It’s never too late, however, and with the end of the hurricane season in sight there’s every chance that you can look for a generator sale in your area and get a good deal.

Choosing a Generator

The first step is to determine what generator is right for your home. Choosing between portable generators and whole-home units sounds simple, especially when you consider the price, but there’s more to it than that. So before you rush off to the nearest generator sale and buy the cheapest equipment you can find, do some research to find out what you actually need.

What Size Generator Do I Need?

Generator size is based on the number of circuits you need to keep going during a power outage. This varies between households depending on:

  • size of the home
  • number of family members
  • climate
  • time of year when you’re most likely to need it
  • special needs such as healthcare

Generator sizes range from small portable units that can support only a couple of appliances or some lights, to large pieces of equipment that can run the home as well as the outbuildings on a large property.

Find a Generator Sale

Once you know what size you need, you can start looking around for the right-priced unit. Begin with your local generator dealer, because chances are he can give you a pretty good price based on your location and the distance the equipment has to be transported. If your installer doesn’t currently have a generator sale, ask when the next one is likely to be. You may find he gives you a good deal without you having to wait for a sale to come up.

Buy a Used Unit

It may be possible to purchase a pre-owned or low-hour used generator, if you know where to look for one. Here again your local installer may be able to advise you, because he is likely to be one of the first people homeowners turn to if they want to sell a used generator when they upgrade. You’ll need to ask some of the following questions before becoming involved in a private generator sale:

  • What are the age, hours and usage of the unit?
  • Who is the manufacturer and what is their reputation?
  • How well has the unit been maintained?
  • Are there signs of physical wear and tear on the unit?
  • How does it perform in a Load Test?
  • Who you are buying it from (broker vs distributor)?

When you have the answers to these issues, ask your installer to examine it the generator before committing yourself, to protect you against unforeseen circumstances. As long as it has been looked after and maintained regularly, it could be in excellent condition.

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Why Generator Maintenance is Essential for Households with Young Children

Why Generator Maintenance is Essential for Households with Young ChildrenHouseholds with young children find a power outage particularly difficult to deal with. Babies and toddlers need a level of care that’s challenging enough under normal circumstances, and dealing with them during bad weather or other disruptions is even harder. Apart from calming the panic a violent storm could cause, it’s necessary to keep the home running as smoothly as possible.

Even if you have a home standby generator, you need to have regular generator maintenance done to be sure it will perform reliably when you need it to do so. Without emergency power that kicks in automatically when necessary, this is what you’ll end up facing:

Safety Concerns

This is the primary concern of parents with young children, and during a power outage people typically engage in a number of dangerous activities, including:

  • Setting up lighted candles in all the rooms, which can be knocked over without warning and cause a fire
  • Cooking and heating water on camping or propane stoves, which are a fire hazard if used indoors and doubly dangerous in the event of a fire started by a candle
  • Going to sleep without arming the alarm, making them vulnerable to intruders, smoke and fire
  • Leaving electrical appliances plugged in, which may succumb to an energy surge when the power comes back on

Installation of a home standby generator will help to avoid these dangerous situations, provided the unit you purchase is the right size for your home and you keep it in good condition with regular generator maintenance.

Family Food Issues

Keeping your family fed is vital, especially if you have babies and young children in the home. You’re limited with the items you can cook on a makeshift stove, and it’s not always possible to feed convenience meals or cold food. If you don’t have an emergency power supply you can tap into during a loss of power, make sure you keep foods such as breakfast cereals, canned fruit and baked beans in the pantry. Any of these can be eaten with little to no preparation, and if you turn it into an adventure meal you’re less likely to find your toddler refusing to eat.

Entertainment

We’re so accustomed to turning on the Cartoon Network to keep the kids quiet during busy periods such as meal preparation, that we probably don’t know what we’d do without it. When a power outage hits, television goes along with all the other electronic entertainment devices such as iPods, iPads, Wiis and Play Stations. Laptops might work for a while on battery power, but chances are your Intenet connection runs off the power so that will die. Without an emergency power source that gets regular generator maintenance, you’ll find yourself reinventing “parlour” games like charades, building blanket forts in the dining room and digging out coloring books and crayons.

Make sure you do regular generator maintenance to keep your home standby unit operating at peak performance, all year round.

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How to Choose a Home Generator That’s Perfect for Your Needs

how to choose a home generator

You’ll need to choose the right home generator to continue life as normal during a power outage

Choosing a home standby generator to provide emergency power during an outage is an exact science. Generators come in a range of sizes and capabilities, and if you want to know how to choose a home generator for your particular needs, the first thing you have to do is determine what your requirements are going to be.

Questions to Ask

Ask yourself these questions to help identify the appliances you need to operate to carry on life as normal:

  • Do I have a security system or alarm that requires electricity, and how safe is my family without it?
  • What temperatures does my region typically get during potential outage seasons? (Tip: If these happen during summer, will you need to run A/C or is your home designed to make the most of natural airflow?)
  • How much perishable food do I usually have in stock, and will it outlast a one- or two-day (or week) power outage?
  • Does anyone in my household require refrigerated medication or the use of life-saving electrically-powered medical equipment?
  • Is my home prone to flooding during heavy rains if the sump pump is out of action due to the power outage?

Your answers to these questions (and others you may think of) will highlight the number of circuits you need to be able to operate in the event of a power failure that lasts longer than a couple hours.

Calculate Your Usage

Based on your responses to these questions, you can calculate the amount of power you’re going to need during a power outage. That will enable you decide how to choose a home generator that will supply enough power. Use the Consumer Reports free wattage calculator to determine how much emergency power you need to keep your home going for the duration of the outage. Remember to take account of the size of appliances such as AC – you may need more power to operate a 15,000 BTU AC than you do for a 5,000 BTU unit.

Select a Location

While you’re figuring out how to choose a home generator, don’t forget to think about where you’re going to put it. Location is an important aspect of your choice, because whole-home generators aren’t small items. You can’t install it in your basement out of the way, either; you need to have it located outdoors and comply with safety requirements to have it a certain distance away from the house. Generator emissions consist of carbon monoxide, which is responsible for the death of close to 100 Americans each year and thousands of emergency room visits. So your generator has to be far enough from the home to avoid affecting the air your family breathes. You may also want to enclose it in a cabinet or housing to soundproof it and protect it from the elements, so make sure you have enough space to accommodate the unit.

Choose Your Fuel

Most whole-home generators are powered by natural gas, although liquid propane is also an option. To run a large home’s emergency power on propane will require you to refuel the generator every few hours, which could be problematic during an outage lasting days or weeks. Get your home generator professional to help you determine how to choose a home generator and advise you on the best type to install for your purposes.

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How Much Does Hurricane Season Really Cost Homeowners?

emergency power, power outageIn spite of predictions for an above-average 2013 hurricane season, it’s been relatively quiet so far. With three months left to go, however, South Florida could still be hit with a devastating storm. According to FEMA, late August and September are considered the high points of the hurricane season because of warm water temperatures that help fuel the storms. So while you’re counting your blessings that we’ve had nothing more than some wet weather so far, it might be good to consider what a major tropical storm or hurricane could cost a home without an emergency power supply.

Temporary Shelter

The U.S. Department of Human Services says that temporary accommodation for both people and pets are one of the biggest expenses during a power outage. Nearby hotel or motel rooms required at the last minute typically run at around $100 to $150 a night depending on the size, while kenneling for pets can run at $50 per pet per night. If the outage lasts for 3 to 5 days before power is restored, it could cost the average family of four with two pets around $1,500 just to have light, security, hot water and the ability to cook food. While some of this may be covered by insurance, the deductible is for your own account—as is the inconvenience. In addition, the hotel stay could be extended if there are damages to your home that need to be repaired before you can return.

Repairing Damages

Damages caused by the lack of emergency power are by far the highest expense, costing Americans some $150 billion a year according to Purdue University Energy Center’s Smart Grid initiative. Costs in this category range from around $3,000 to remove household mold caused by damp during the outage, to $20,000 or more in basement flood damage due to inoperable sump pump mechanisms. Once again some of this is covered by insurance, but you would do well to check the fine print on your policy to ensure that damages are covered if your sump pump isn’t working—for any reason.

Replacement Costs

When the refrigerator is off, your food spoils. When your AC isn’t working, the humidity gets into your closets and causes mold, which can damage your clothing and linen. Depending on the severity and duration of the power outage, you may find yourself having to replace significant quantities of these items. Insurance typically doesn’t cover much in the way of foodstuffs or personal effects, so you could be on your own with this aspect. If you have an emergency power source as a backup, however, you can ensure that none of these problems arise.

Healthcare Services

Health care is always the most critical issue during a power outage. If your household includes someone with disabilities, a patient who needs refrigerated medication or the use of electrical equipment such as a dialysis machine, an emergency power supply such as a home standby generator enables you to keep everything running smoothly. If you don’t have one, the costs involved in transporting a patient safely to temporary accommodation with the equipment he or she needs can be frightening—and these are mostly not covered by insurance.

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Why Whole Home Generators Beat Portables

whole home generatorsWhen homeowners experience a power outage, it’s often the first time they stop to consider the option of installing an emergency power supply. Don’t be tempted by portable generators; sure, they are cheaper and take less work to install, but there are a number of reasons why whole home generators are a better bet than a portable one. Here are some of the main factors you should consider before making your choice:

Safety

The safety of home generators is a primary concern. With portable generators, there’s a degree of risk involved in the continual refueling needed to keep the generator going. Most portables use gasoline or propane to operate, and gasoline is particularly volatile during handling. Both Subaru and American Honda recently issued recalls for portable generators, due to a fire hazard caused by potential leaks in the fuel hoses.

In addition, regardless of the type of fuel used, portable generators produce colorless, odorless carbon monoxide gas. This can be lethal in high enough concentrations, particularly for someone with a compromised immune system. Whole home generators don’t require refueling or complex home operation, so your safety risks are minimized.

Cost Benefit

The cost of installing whole home generators is substantially higher than portables, we know that. There are a number of benefits, however, which we believe should be taken into account when you’re making your decision:

  • Investment value – by installing a whole-home generator you increase the resale value of your property by at least 75% of the installation cost over a five-year period.
  • You might save on labor charges for installation, but you’ll pay in the long term with the numer of personal hours you’ll have to put in to starting, refueling and maintaining the portable.
  • Calculate the cost of traveling to and from your nearest gas station multiplied by the number of trips you’ll have to make to get through a 7-day power outage.

When you consider these cost implications, the higher-priced whole-home generator becomes a much more attractive proposition.

Convenience

If your power outage lasts anything longer than a couple hours, you’re going to work as hard as the portable generator does to keep it running. The gas typically lasts around 4 to 5 hours in most models, which means to keep it operational you’ll need to come home in the middle of the work day and set your alarm to wake up at 3 am. If the weather is lousy, you’re refueling the generator in the dark on a cold, wet and windy night! Besides, even if you live near a gas station you’ll need a backup supply, because if the power outage affects the whole area the gas pumps may not be working. Whole-home generators use a natural gas installation so re-fueling isn’t required.

Efficacy

There’s only so many circuits that a portable generator can power, even if you buy a big one. And of course, the larger the equipment the more fuel it uses. That means you essentially have to choose between whether to run your AC or your refrigerator, and whether to cook or keep medication at the right temperature. You usually can’t do it all. A whole-home generator starts automatically and uses clean power, so there’s no fuss, no smell and no choosing between amenities.

For an assessment of your power requirements and an estimate to install a generator to power your home during an outage, contact us to request a quote today.

 

 

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Gas Appliances Still Need Emergency Power During an Outage

Gas Appliances Still Need Emergency Power During an OutageChanging from electrical to gas appliances has a number of benefits, but it doesn’t mean you no longer need electricity. Many appliances may use natural gas for operating purposes, but they still require electrical power to manage certain features. This means that during a power outage, all the gas in the world isn’t going to help you unless you have a source of emergency power. Here are some of the gas appliances that use power:

Stoves

Gas stoves are great. Not only are they trendy because all the celebrity chefs use them, but it’s much easier to control the temperature precisely than most electric stoves. Certain models need electricity to ignite, while others use a spark generated by a piezo crystal. However, if your gas stove has any of these features, you probably need power to operate them:

  • Oven light
  • Clock or timer
  • Rotating grill or plate
  • Fan-assisted oven

Of course, when you’re preparing food in an emergency you can probably use the stove without the benefit of these options, but if you want to be truly independent during a power outage, a home standby generator is the answer to providing all the conveniences you’re accustomed to.

Hot Water Heaters

Depending on the model you buy, your gas hot water heater may need emergency power to operate the pilot light. While many older models had a pilot light that could be ignited with a match, for safety purposes most modern versions have an electronic one.

Then there’s the thermocouple, which generates voltage to hold the gas valve open. Although it uses only the tiniest amount of power, it’s necessary for safe operation of the heater. Thermostats and timers also both operate using electricity, so in the event of a power outage your hot water may be useless without a home standby generator to keep it going.

Air Conditioning

Natural gas air conditioners aren’t new, and were popular during the 1940s and 1950s. New technology to make them safer and more efficient coupled with the threat of power outages is giving them a new lease on life. While you can operate a gas air conditioner without emergency power there’s no way to control the temperature without an electric thermostat, so it’s necessary to operate the unit manually by switching it on and off as needed. By connecting a gas air conditioner to your home standby generator, however, you can make sure that your home is cool and comfortable at all times.

Furnaces

While furnaces are seldom needed (or even installed!) in most homes in the South Florida area, this is another example of a gas appliance that requires emergency power to operate effectively. Igniting the furnace, operation of the thermostat and air blowers all require electricity, so in times of power outage it’s essential that you have back up power such as that provided by a home standby generator.

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